Description is used in all forms of writing to create
a vivid impression of a person, place, object or event eg to:
a special place and explain why it is special
the most important person in your life
the animal's habitat in your report
Descriptive writing is usually used to help a writer develop
an aspect of their work, eg. to create a particular mood, atmosphere or describe a place so that the reader can create vivid
pictures of characters, places, objects etc.
Description is a style of writing which can be useful
for a variety of purposes:
focused and concentrates only on the aspects that add something to the main purpose of the description.
description - what is heard, seen, smelt, felt, tasted. Precise use of adjectives, similes, metaphors to create images/pictures in the mind eg Their noses were met with the acrid smell of rotting flesh.
development of the experience that "puts the reader there" focuses on key details, powerful verbs and precise nouns.
Descriptive writing portrays
people, places, things, moments and theories with enough vivid detail to help the reader create a mental picture of what is
being written about.
to Consider as You Write Your Descriptive Essay
of an instance that you want to describe.
is this particular instance important?
were you doing?
other things were happening around you? Is there anything specific that stands out in your mind?
were objects located in relation to where you were?
did the surroundings remind you of other places you have been?
sights, smells, sounds, and tastes were in the air?
the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes remind you of anything?
were you feeling at that time?
there been an instance in which you have felt this way before?
do you want the reader to feel after reading the paper?
types of words and images can convey this feeling?
you think of another situation that was similar to the one you are writing about? How can it help explain what you are writing
there enough detail in your essayto create a mental image for the reader?
of Descriptive Essays Illustrated by Sample Paragraphs
Appealing-to-the-Senses Description: Let the
reader see, smell, hear, taste, and feel what you write in your essay.
The thick, burnt scent of roasted coffee tickled the tip of my nose just seconds before the old, faithful alarm
blared a distorted top-forty through its tiny top speaker. Wiping away the grit of last night's sleep, the starch white sunlight
blinded me momentarily as I slung my arm like an elephant trunk along the top of the alarm, searching for the snooze button.
While stretching hands and feet to the four posts of my bed, my eyes opened after several watery blinks. I crawled out of
the comforter, edging awkwardly like a butterfly from a cocoon, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. The dusty pebbles
on the chilled, wood floor sent ripples spiraling from my ankles to the nape of my neck when my feet hit the floor. Grabbing
the apricot, terri-cloth robe, recently bathed in fabric softener and October wind, I knotted it tightly at my waist like
a prestigious coat of armor and headed downstairs to battle the morning.
of Text Forms
The writer's purpose is to explain
how something works or state reasons for some phenomenon. Explanations answer the questions "how" or "why".
Types of Explanation
There are two basic types of explanation
which focus on:
does a pump work? How does a computer work? How are mountains formed? How does a spider spin a web?)
do some things float or sink? Why is the ozone layer getting thinner? Why does iron go rusty? Why do living things need food?)
a logical sequence
cause/effect relationships (then, as a consequence, so, if)
relationships (first, then, following, finally) Explanations involve the stating of reasons for an activity or process.
Lizards in the suborder Iguania communicate by doing
push-ups and other athletic displays. They convey territoriality, courtship displays, and other messages with various combinations
of push-ups, body postures, head movements, and displays of colorful belly patches or throat dewlaps.
The Iguania includes the common sagebrush lizards of the American west,
as well as iguanas and tropical anoles. Different species have different languages, and within each species there may be regional
A recent study showed that, like the languages of humans and some kinds
of birds, lizard body language is an open grammatical system. This means that they can express many different messages using
a fixed set of symbols combined in various orders.
of Text Forms
- Procedural Texts
The purpose is to tell the reader
how to do or make something.
The information is presented in a
logical sequence of events which is broken up into small sequenced steps. These texts are usually written in the present tense.
The most common example of a procedural
text is a recipe.
Types of Procedural Texts
There are different procedural texts
for different purposes:-
explain how something works or how to use instruction /operation manuals eg how to use the video, the computer, the tape recorder,
the photocopier, the fax.
instruct how to do a particular activity eg recipes, rules for games, science experiments, road safety rules.
deal with human behaviour eg how to live happily, how to succeed.
of procedural text has a format.
usually have the information presented in at least two basic groups: ingredients and method.
usually include instructions on how to play, rules of the game, method of scoring, and the number of players.
experiments usually include the purpose of the experiment, equipment, procedure, observations and conclusion.
need to be clear, logical and easy to follow eg
is clearly stated
are listed in order of use
of the text is easy to understand and follow (steps are numbered or listed)
There are a lot of times when you have to write out directions
of how to do something. Sometimes you have to explain how something works, how to make something, or how to get from one place
Here’s a way to help you write an explanation.
Make a list of all the steps – don’t go into a lot of detail, just enough that you remember what to write
Make sure all of the steps are in the right order.
If you’re giving directions to make something, make sure you give a list that tells all the stuff you’ll
Start your explanation with a good sentence that explains what you’re trying to do.
Write all the directions as briefly and clearly as possible. Use words like first, second, and next to help the reader
Edit what you’ve written, and then try to follow the directions yourself. Make any changes that you might have
missed the first time.
Have someone else try to follow your directions. If they don’t understand, write it more clearly so they do.
Use illustrations if they help make the written words more clear.
Features of Text Forms
The basic purpose of narrative is
to entertain, to gain and hold a readers' interest. However narratives can also be written to teach or inform, to change attitudes
/ social opinions eg soap operas and television dramas that are used to raise topical issues. Narratives sequence people/characters
in time and place but differ from recounts in that through the sequencing, the stories set up one or more problems, which
must eventually find a way to be resolved.
Types of Narrative
There are many types of narrative.
They can be imaginary, factual or a combination of both. They may include fairy stories, mysteries, science fiction, romances,
horror stories, adventure stories, fables, myths and legends, historical narratives, ballads, slice of life, personal experience.
with defined personalities/identities.
often included - tense may change to the present or the future.
language to create images in the reader's mind and enhance the story.
In a Traditional Narrative the focus
of the text is on a series of actions:
Orientation: (introduction) in which the characters, setting and time of the story are established.
Usually answers who? when? where? eg. Mr Wolf went out hunting in the forest one dark gloomy night.
Complication or problem: The complication usually involves the main character(s) (often mirroring the
complications in real life).
Resolution: There needs to be a resolution of the complication. The complication may be resolved for
better or worse/happily or unhappily. Sometimes there are a number of complications that have to be resolved. These add and
sustain interest and suspense for the reader.
To help students plan for writing
of narratives, model, focusing on:
Plot: What is going to happen?
Setting: Where will the story take place? When will the story take place?
Characterisation: Who are the main characters? What do they look like?
Structure: How will the story begin? What will be the problem? How is the
problem going to be resolved?
Theme: What is the theme / message the writer is attempting to communicate?
verbs: Action verbs provide interest to the writing. For example, instead of The old woman was in his way try
The old woman barred his path. Instead of She laughed try She cackled.
in the first person (I, we) or the third person (he, she, they).
nouns: Strong nouns have more specific meanings, eg. oak as opposed to tree.
nouns: Make nouns actually do something, eg. It was raining could become Rain splashed down or There
was a large cabinet in the lounge could become A large cabinet seemed to fill the lounge.
use of adjectives and adverbs: Writing needs judicious use of adjectives and adverbs to bring it alive, qualify the action and provide description
and information for the reader.
the senses: Where appropriate, the senses can be used to describe and develop the experiences, setting and character:
it smell like?
be seen - details?
it taste like?
it feel like?
Simile: A direct comparison, using like or as or as though, eg. The sea looked as rumpled as a blue quilted dressing
gown. Or The wind wrapped me up like a cloak.
Metaphor: An indirect or hidden comparison, eg. She has a heart of stone or He is a stubborn mule or The man
barked out the instructions.
Onomatopoeia: A suggestion of sound through words, eg. crackle, splat, ooze, squish, boom, eg. The tyres whir on
the road. The pitter-patter of soft rain. The mud oozed and squished through my toes.
Personification: Giving nonliving things (inanimate) living characteristics, eg. The steel beam clenched its muscles. Clouds
limped across the sky. The pebbles on the path were grey with grief.
Questions: Often the author asks the audience questions, knowing of course there will be no direct answer. This is a way of
involving the reader in the story at the outset, eg. Have you ever built a tree hut?
in sentence beginnings. There are a several ways to do this eg by using:
Participles: "Jumping with joy I ran home to tell mum my good news."
Adverbial Phrases: "Along the street walked the girl as if she had not a care in the world."
these may be used as an opener. This may be done through a series of short or one-word sentences or as one long complex sentence.
Show, Don't Tell: Students have heard the rule "show, don't tell" but this principle is often difficult for some writers to master.
Personal Voice: It may be described as writing which is honest and convincing. The author is able to 'put the reader there'.
The writer invests something of him/her self in the writing. The writing makes an impact on the reader. It reaches out and
touches the reader. A connection is made.
of Text Forms
The purpose of a recount is to list
and describe past experiences by retelling events in the order in which they happened (chronological order). Recounts are
written to retell events with the purpose of either informing or entertaining their audience (or both).
Types of Recount
Personal Recount These usually retell an event that the writer was personally
Factual Recount Recording an incident, eg. a science experiment, police
Imaginative Recount Writing an imaginary role and giving details of events,
eg. A day in the life of a pirate; How I invented...
Features of Recounts
on individual participants/events
has a title, which usually summarises the text
participants (Mum, the crab)
recount consists of three parts:
or orientation - background information answering who? when? where? why?
are identified and described in chronological order.
comments express a personal opinion regarding the events described
are selected to help the reader reconstruct the activity or incident (Factual Recount)
may describe the outcome of the activity, eg. in a science activity (Factual Recount)
of time, place and incident need to be clearly stated, eg. At , between Reid Rd and Havelock St a man drove at 140 kms toward the shopping centre (Factual Recount)
details may also be required to provide information, eg. He was a skinny boy with a blue shirt, red sneakers and long tied
back hair (Factual Recount)
personal thoughts/reactions (Imaginative Recount)
in the past tense (she yelled, it nipped, she walked)
use is made of words which link events in time, such as next, later, when, then, after, before, first, at the same time, as
soon as she left, late on Friday)
describe events, so plenty of use is made of verbs (action words), and of adverbs (which describe or add more detail to verbs)
are often chosen to add interest or humour to the recount.
personal pronouns (I, we) (Personal Recount)
voice may be used, eg. the bottle was filled with ink (Factual Recount)
of Text Forms
"Reports can be straightforward recounts of events, but many of them are more than this. They may contain accounts
and descriptions, but they often do more than describe a thing, event or situation. Some reports state a problem and suggest
a solution. Some argue a case for or against a particular option, supporting their case with evidence and making a recommendation."
(The Learner as a Reader, Learning Media NZ:P 129)
The purpose of a report is to describe
and classify information. Reports have a logical sequence of facts that are stated without any personal involvement from the
Informative reports are written about
living things like plants and animals and non-living things like cars or oceans. An information report is used when we talk
and write about, eg. Bikes. (When writing a description we only talk/write about one specific thing, eg. My Bike).
usually consist of the following:
statement. (The Antarctic is a large continent at the South Pole or Possums are nocturnal animals that were introduced
to New Zealand from Australia)
of facts about various aspects of the subject eg where possums live, what they eat, problems they cause, etc.
have been used to organise information
of information is coherent
photographs, illustrations and maps may be used to enhance the text
don't usually have an 'ending", although sometimes the detailed information is rounded off by some general statement about
language is used that is factual rather than imaginative eg colour, shape, size, body parts, habits, behaviours, functions,
of Text Forms
To support ideas presented in sequence
to justify a particular stand or viewpoint that a writer is taking.
The writer's purpose is to take a
position on some issue and justify it.
An argument usually consists of the
with a statement of position
is put forward in a series of points with back up evidence
with a summing up or restating of position
argument shows cause and effect. This is the connection between an action and what leads to it, eg. The fish died as a result
of pollution in the water: Violence in movies contributes to violence in society
Types of arguments
a case - letters to the school principal / local council with regard to current issues.
goods and services - advertisement writing to promote the school concert/sports.
forward an argument - School uniforms should not be compulsory.
is written in the timeless present tense. This might change to the past if historical background to the issue was being given. If predictions are being
made the tense might change to the future.
uses repetition of words, phrases and concepts deliberately, for effect.
Verbs are used when expressing opinions, eg. I think ___ are the best! We believe students should not be stopped from
eating junk food.
provoking questions are used. These may be asked as rhetorical questions. (Rhetorical questions: a question asked only for
effect, not for information, eg. Would you give your pre-schooler matches to play with?)
pronouns (I, we, us) is used to manipulate the reader to agree with the position argued. eg. We all know that smoking
causes cancer so we do not smoke.
emotive language ie. words that will appeal to the reader's feelings, eg. concern, unreasonable, should.
passive voice ie verbs in which the subject is acted upon and not doing the action. This helps structure the text, eg. We
would like to suggest that an enquiry be held into the running of the steel mills. Water is being polluted.
Conjunctions that can exemplify and show results - they are usually used in concluding statements to finalise arguments
Debates, which are conducted orally,
are a form of argument in which two opposing points of view are stated and both sides are argued. Supporting evidence for
each side is put forward and finally an opinion is stated based on the two arguments.