A vivid description supports a dominant impression with specific details. The dominant impression of a description is its central and unifying theme; it is the feeling you are trying to convey condensed into a single word or phrase. In a paper of this nature, you should describe as vividly as you can the physical characteristics of a person or a place about which you have a strong feeling. If possible, accumulate details and impressions by observing your subject closely. If you cannot observe it firsthand, recreate your subject in your mind’s eye. As you observe or remember, jot down the feelings and impressions that you experience. Next, select from all the mass of impressions the dominant, or strongest, impression created by the place or person, and state it in one sentence. This sentence will be the thesis statement of your theme; it will appear on your outline and again in the introductory paragraph. If necessary, revise this sentence to make sure that it clearly states specifically the place or person you intend to describe and the impression you plan to convey to the reader.
The dominant impression of a place might be “Ben’s cafe, where I have eaten so many meals, is a dingy place.” Of a person, it might be “My friend has a delicate beauty.” After you have formed your dominant impression into a thesis, make a plan to organize the relevant supporting details into three basic parts. Each part will comprise one Roman numeral of your outline and one paragraph of the body of your paper. For the dingy cafe, you might use the walls, the booths, and the counter as the three parts in climactic order, that is, ascending from least to most important. You will not outline your introductory paragraph since the thesis sentence that appears in this first paragraph also appears on the outline page, nor will you outline your concluding paragraph since it summarizes or re-emphasizes the material that you have already discussed.
As you plan the organization of your details, omit any irrelevant details that might break the unity of the impression. For instance, if your dominant impression of a place is that it is dingy, you would not want to destroy that impression by mentioning that cheerful sunshine that sometimes enters to brighten the place. Also, make sure that each detail is placed in the appropriate part of your theme. For instance, you would want to describe the beauty of a girl’s eyes in a paragraph devoted to the way she dressed. In addition to unifying and organizing your details, you should strive to make them as specific and as concrete as possible. To be told that a girl always wears delicate, light-colored dresses is not nearly so convincing as to be told that she wears robin’s egg-blue dresses of silk.
Your finished essay will contain five paragraphs: an introduction of at least three sentences (one of which is the thesis sentence), three paragraphs of development corresponding to the three Roman numerals of your outline, and a concluding paragraph of at least three sentences. The length of the paper will be approximately 350-500 words.
Before submitting the paper, you should proofread carefully to see that you have observed all conventions of correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.
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