Descriptive Paragraph Writing



By: Mubarak Abdessalami



          For the majority of students, writing is a horrific nightmare. This is due to the fact that it is actually a hard task. Besides this, the students don’t practise it so often and this, also, is the result of not knowing how to start doing it. When it comes to writing assignments, almost all the students are reluctant. They are terrified to take risks because they only lack self-confidence. This will no longer be the case if they decided to be audacious enough to engage into training themselves to write on practical and purposeful bases.

          Descriptive paragraphs, on the other hand, are quite tougher for average students to write because they are based essentially on personal observation. Accordingly they necessitate a bunch of colourful vocabulary so as to draw the image perfectly well for the reader to “see” what or who you are describing. Moreover description requires a lot of artistry and details, mostly sensory, to help the reader create a vivid mental picture. For this reason, students need to own a relatively large repertoire of quality adjectives and a certain level of originality.

          In addition to that, the students must also master the description techniques. They have to picture their subject in such a bright way that no confusion is probable. Every detail is important to depict with care so that for the paragraph to be clear, impressive and almost alive. You may probably know that description is what makes most novels and stories motivating, understandable and enjoyable.



          In this paper, I’ll simply try to lead you to the most appropriate economical way to write a concise paragraph describing a person through indicating the steps to follow so as to manage the paragraph the easiest and the most effective way.

Describing a person

          To describe a person needs an attitude otherwise the result is not inspiring at all. The person you intend to describe must have something particular that makes him, or her, your focus and makes your paragraph worth reading.

          To describe a person is to imagine him or her first. This person has to be a little particular so that you make your paragraph motivating. The person described should be a famous one or a very particular man with special qualities. He or she may also be so funny that your paragraph depicts the person as a caricature. You can also describe a very common man, but this won’t be impressive, I’m afraid unless you have something original to illustrate about him. You normally need to stimulate or excite the readers by giving them enough solid reasons to urge them to go on reading the paragraph.



          First, decide about the person you want to describe and put his or her name or nickname within a circle and start building a spider gram. Visualize him or her and start jotting down any idea or word that crosses your mind so as not to interrupt your brain storming. Let your mind give all that it has without censure. Later on you can discard most of what your mind proposes, but first don’t break off the process flow. Marshalling comes on a second position after having exhausted your vocabulary and ideas connected to the person you intend to describe.

          At school you might be asked to describe your best friend for instance. Certainly you have one. So think of one with a particular quality and put his or her name in the circle and start writing down any word that comes through your mind about him or her in the way it comes: (profile, appearance, hair, eyes, clothes, qualities etc). Don’t just start thinking if a word or an idea is appropriate for your subject or not. Leave this action for a next stage of your writing process. Am I clear enough?

The most important questions which need answers in a descriptive paragraph are normally in the following order..

          You may want to mention his or her job, hobbies and so on but only if you are sure they serve your purpose excitingly well. Your judgement whether what you write might interest your readers or not, can have an impact on your composition. So you have to be cautious. However, the most important thing is to find a strong reason why you have chosen this person in particular. For example, if you are asked to describe your best friend or the most amiable member of your family, you have to think about what make them "best" and "amiable". This would help a lot in creating a stimulus for you to write well and for the readers to enjoy reading your product.


  1. Brain Storming  

          Before all, don't just forget that description is based essentially on senses. What you see and feel should be translated into words. This should go from total to part but first things first. Now let's go brain storming.

          This is just a quickly formulated sample of how your final spider gram might look like. (For more vocabulary, see below) Once you have gone through this stage successfully, you move to the next step. You start gathering your ideas into groups of common features just like in the example below.

          In this stage, only relevant ideas and words are to be kept. It is not necessary to use all the ideas on the spider-gram. Likewise, it is not obligatory to stick to the spider-gram. You must be at the same time selective and resourceful. You should cast away the unrelated, the irrelevant or the weak ideas so as to ovoid repetition or redundancy. You still can do more omitting, replacing or rectifying in your editing stage but for the time being, be careful about your material and the diversity and richness of your vocabulary. This method has an additional benefit that is it makes your list a basis on which you can generate more words and build a backup list. This is for advanced levels but as for now; let’s keep up with our simple approach.

          The following example will give you an idea about how you get rid of unwanted or irrelevant material.


  2. Mapping  

          Gather your selected material into specific clusters each connected to a part or section of the paragraph. This stage is crucial because it helps you overcome all the potential troubles you may encounter as time presses on you. Don’t worry too much; you are not supposed to write a miraculous paragraph. The most important thing is to know exactly what you want to do and to do it. In other words, try to avoid wordiness and randomness in your choice of words and expressions. Keep simple but precise.

          Organization is half the work. Not only must you care about vocabulary and descriptive adornments, but you must care more about the design of your work. In order not to drop important details, you must plan your paragraph on a separate sheet of paper. The outcome is almost as follows.

This organization helps a lot to clearly visualize what you’re planning to do. However, if you want to save time and effort, you can just organize your ideas this way.



  3. Writing  

          Now that you have gathered the necessary material you can start writing your paragraph based on the following plan. Remember that the whole work is based on your opening sentence (topic sentence). It must be appealing the maximum. The secret force of the paragraph lies in the reason “why?” you choose the person you are describing!!!
  1. Topic Sentence
    • Who and why?

  3. Supporting Sentences
    • What does he/she look like? (Physical form)
    • What clothes does he/she wear? Why?
    • What is he/she like? (qualities)

  5. Concluding Sentence
    • What impression do you have about him/her?


  3.a. First Draft  
            My best friend Dave is the most brilliant student in our school. He is a student. He is young. He is tall. He is slim. He is very frail. He has an oval skinny face. He has long straight black hair. He has small blue eyes. He puts on glasses. He wears casual clothes. He is handsome and elegant. My friend Dave is optimistic. He is an east-going and extroverted person but he is the smartest of us all.


  3.b. Second Draft  
            My best friend Dave is the most brilliant student in our school. He is a tall young boy. He looks slim and too frail for his age. He has an oval face with long straight black hair and small blue eyes. He puts on glasses. He always looks elegant and comfortable in his casual clothes, jeans and T-shirts. He doesn't care much about fashion. My friend Dave is an east-going and an extroverted person still he is the smartest of us all.


  3. c. Editing  
          This is the final stage. Before you hand in your paper, you must review your paragraph for mistakes, word-order, linking words, tense, and punctuation. Make sure that the answer is always “YES” to the entire set of the following questions. Despite all, if you cannot reach this level successfully, don’t desperate and try again. Remember that practice makes perfect. Good Luck.



          As you see, the paragraph goes from stitches or discrete details to a whole body which makes sense. Furthermore it develops tremendously as we go on with the steps of the process. Ideas generate one another. If you go on rectifying, recycling, editing and reformulating, you’ll perhaps write a paragraph with a new look though the planned work was different at the beginning. It is crucial to plan the work because it is the outline which boosts and improves your performance. Now if you check the first step, you’ll see how far we go and how many changes have been made.

          I hope this paper will give you more confidence to conquer your reluctance and fear from this nightmare named writing and start training. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You can’t be perfect from the first try. It is by practicing regularly that you can amaze yourself by how much potentials you have got. Stop hesitating and make the first step, but be patient.


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