The following rough draft was composed in response to the guidelines in How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph. After carefully reading the paragraph, consider some of the specific ways in which it might be improved. Then respond to the questions that follow the paragraph, and compare your answers with the sample responses on page two. (On page three you'll find a revised version of this draft paragraph: "River Street After the Flood.")
TIP: To view this exercise without ads, click on the printer icon near the top of the page.
I grew up in a poor family in a poor town. We did not have much money or many of the good things in life, but we did have one another. One year the flood wiped out our home. It fact, it wiped out all of River Street. I'll never forget the morning I saw River Street for the last time. The river was on one side of the street, and the houses were on the other. We lived in one of these houses before the flood hit. There was mud on the walls of the houses, and many windows were broken. The roofs were in terrible shape. There were many gigantic trees. Children were still playing here, and I remember hearing music. There was a bar at the end of the street and after that a lot of weeds. The whole scene was pretty desolate.
- The paragraph doesn't begin with a clearly focused topic sentence. Do you think any of the opening sentences in this draft could be eliminated without confusing the reader or altering the basic sense of the paragraph?
- What particular place is the writer attempting to describe?
- What is the dominant mood or feeling that the writer is trying to evoke?
- Using your answers to questions 2 and 3, create an effective topic sentence for this paragraph.
- What are some of the items mentioned in the paragraph that you think need to be described in more detail?
- Can you suggest a more appropriate title--one that indicates more clearly what the paragraph is about?
For more practice:
Revising a Place Description: Practice in Developing a Descriptive Paragraph