"Developing a paragraph through description is painting a verbal picture," says Esther Baraceros. "This means creating impressions and images through words that appeal to the reader's senses" (Communication Skills I , 2005).
After completing one or more drafts of a descriptive paragraph, use this eight-point checklist to guide your revision.
- Does your paragraph begin with a topic sentence--one that clearly identifies the person, place, or thing you're about to describe?
(If you're not sure how to write a topic sentence, see Practice in Composing an Effective Topic Sentence.)
- In the rest of the paragraph, have you clearly and consistently supported the topic sentence with specific descriptive details?
(For examples of how to do this, see Practice in Supporting a Topic Sentence With Descriptive Details.)
- Have you followed a logical pattern in organizing the supporting sentences in your paragraph?
(For examples of organizational patterns commonly used in descriptive paragraphs, see Spatial Order, Model Place Descriptions, and General-to-Specific Order.)
- Is your paragraph unified--that is, do all your supporting sentences relate directly to the topic introduced in the first sentence?
(For advice on achieving unity, see Paragraph Unity: Guidelines, Examples, and Exercises.)
- Is your paragraph cohesive--that is, have you clearly connected the supporting details in your paragraph and guided readers from one sentence to the next?
(Cohesion strategies include the following: Using Pronouns Effectively, Using Transitional Words and Phrases, and Repeating Key Words and Structures.)
- Throughout the paragraph, have you chosen words that clearly, accurately, and specifically show readers what you mean?
(For ideas about how to create word pictures that can make your writing easier to understand and more interesting to read, see these two exercises: Writing With Specific Details and Arranging Specific Details in Sentences.)
- Have you read your paragraph aloud (or asked someone to read it to you) to check for trouble spots, such as awkward phrasing or needless repetition?
(For advice on polishing the language in your paragraph, see Practice in Cutting the Clutter and the Exercise in Eliminating Deadwood From Our Writing.)
- Finally, have you carefully edited and proofread your paragraph?
(For advice on how to edit and proofread effectively, see our Checklist for Editing Paragraphs and Essays and Top 10 Proofreading Tips.)
After completing these eight steps, your revised paragraph may look quite different from earlier drafts. Almost always that means you have improved your writing. Congratulations!
How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph