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A Good Descriptive Writing
A descriptive writing is one that gives a clear description of people, objects, events or places by use of appropriate details. To be efficient, it must elaborate details to communicate a sense of the subject in question. Such details are usually sensory and selectively picked to describe what the writer sees, hears, touches, smells or tastes (Elbow 1998)). All these five senses need captured to give the piece of work a complete dimension. This way, the reader is sure to be fully engaged in all their senses.
Alice Steinbach in her essay, “The Miss Dennis School of Writing,” presents a special characteristic that every good descriptive writing must possess. According to her ninth grade creative writing teacher, Miss Dennis, a good descriptive writing makes the reader see what the writer sees. This is the statement of the author’s topic.
Implied in this statement is that the description works to create in the reader, the feeling of being part of the scene described. This entirely contains the use of sensatory description to allow the reader to enter the scene effectively through evoking sense that is more emotional and directly involving them. In short, the narrator creates a sense of imagery in the mind of the reader similar to the subject as seen by the reader. The outcome is that both reader and the writer settle at one scene, the one the author describes. Based on the author’s various descriptions in the text, my opinion is that Miss Dennis’ argument is not comprisable.
As she puts it, you can see clearly, what the writer sees just by reading through the author’s description. This actually happened to me while reading the description of how Miss Dennis would chase Dorothy Singer around the classroom. She makes me see the way Dorothy moves around the classroom, the teacher behind, threatening her with a yardstick. I hear her yell. Furthermore, the way Alice Steinbach describes the spot of the red geraniums she saw on her way to school one morning gives me the exact picture of the scene as if I was with her.
In the essay, Alice Steinbach lets me see not just Miss Dennis but also her personality through the lively image her description creates. I can clearly see what kind of a woman she used to be including her dressing style, as though she was here right now. Moreover, she create in me a vivid image that gives me the picture of the two sitting together while the young girl narrates the story of her dead father to her teacher. I can even see Miss Dennis listening to her and the way she reacts to her student’s sad news. Additionally, the writer’s details seem to put us together with her into that afternoon he died.
As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, Alice Steinbach’s essay illustrates that a descriptive writing extends beyond creating the sense of vision to mapping the author’s feelings into the reader’s mind. This is what enables Miss Dennis to capture a kind of unique sadness in Alice before the young girl reveals that it was about the loss of her father. She knew the girls’ feeling through her narratives.
A further justification of Miss Dennis’ argument can de shown by the following description:
”She was waiting for me, a white face behind a dusty window. She smiled her painted mouth unfurling as a red flag caught in a sudden breeze. Her hair was dyed dark-auburn. Her legs were a Mesopotamia of varicose veins. She still had the tatters of an extraordinary beaut.” (1)
Here, Bruce manages to show us the woman rather than simply telling us concerning her. He builds in our mind her picture bit-by-bit starting from the woman’s face, then the mouth, her hair until we sure see what he sees.
Nevertheless, at times the author’s descriptions may cause a false implication to the reader about the author’s point of view. For instance, my immediate feeling at the beginning of Alice Steinbach’s report on the news of Miss Dennis death was sad. Her initial statements win the reader’s sympathy. She first makes us think the incident was a blow on her only to realize towards the end that our feeling was the opposite of hers.
“I think of Miss Dennis but not with sadness.” She notes.
Secondly, descriptions may be intentionally misleading to make the reader have the wrong picture rather than what the author actually sees. Alternatively, excessive exaggeration equally forms a wrong imagination in the reader’s mind. Therefore, reader cannot see the even the writer describes, in which case, the above argument fails to hold. Most importantly, the accuracy of the explanation depends on the author’s descriptive ability. The reader sees things described and not necessarily those seen by the author.
In summery however, regardless of the foregoing limitations, I still concur with the argument of this text that a good description makes the reader see what the author sees. It builds within the reader’s mind an accurate picture, which is a true copy of what the writer sees feels, senses, touches, and smells.
- Chatwin, Bruce. In Patagonia. Random House, 2012, page 6.
- Sarkar, Sucharita. “Maternal Affect and Journalistic Agency: Features by Three Pulitzer Prize-Winning Women Journalists.”