Description Essay

1408 Words 6 Pages
"A description is an arrangement of properties, qualities, and features that the author must pick (choose, select), but the art lies in the order of their release--visually, audibly, conceptually--and consequently in the order of their interaction, including the social standing of every word."
(William H. Gass, "The Sentence Seeks Its Form." A Temple of Texts. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)
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Show; Don't Tell
"This is the oldest cliché of the writing profession, and I wish I didn't have to repeat it. Do not
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Give up commonplaces, such as: 'the setting sun, bathing in the waves of the darkening sea, flooded with purple gold,' and so on. Or 'swallows flying over the surface of the water chirped gaily.' In descriptions of nature one should seize upon minutiae, grouping them so that when, having read the passage, you close your eyes, a picture is formed. For example, you will evoke a moonlit night by writing that on the mill dam the glass fragments of a broken bottle flashed like a bright little star, and that the black shadow of a dog or wolf rolled along like a ball.'"
(Anton Chekhov, quoted by Raymond Obstfeld in Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes. Writer's Digest Books, 2000)
Two Types of Description: Objective and Impressionistic
"Objective description attempts to report accurately the appearance of the object as a thing in itself, independent of the observer's perception of it or feelings about it. It is a factual account, the purpose of which is to inform a reader who has not been able to see with his own eyes. The writer regards himself as a kind of camera, recording and reproducing, though in words, a true picture. . . .

"Impressionistic description is very different. Focusing upon the mood or feeling the object evokes in the observer rather than upon the object as it exists in itself, impressionism does not seek

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