Descriptive Essay: A Beautiful Place
- Length: 696 words (2 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
I think we all have a beautiful place in our mind. I have a wonderful place that made me happy a lot of times, years ago. But sometimes I think that I am the only person who likes this place and I'm asking myself if this place will be as beautiful as I thought when I will go back to visit it again. Perhaps I made it beautiful in my mind.
This place is meaningful to me because it is part of the county I loved, is part of the county where I grew up and is part of my childhood. This place is in the country in an old region named Appalachia, a small piece of the Appalachian Mountains, in a town named Pikeville.
Pikeville is a polluted town because of the coal industry. People live in apartment or condominium buildings because of its little space available. I grew up in one of the many buildings in Pikeville admiring from my bedroom window the beauty of the mountains, always exploring with my eyes the forest or the meadows, looking for a clean and quiet place. And, I found one on a hill in the back of the town. It is about 100 feet square, it has seven old trees, wild flowers and a lot of bugs and ants during summer time.
I used to go there to sit down on a rock and watch the town and my trees. There was a very old tree, a maple tree, with a huge trunk. The others were smaller, three in the back, three on my left side and the old maple tree on my right. There were flowers, many kinds, white, yellow, purple and blue. It was nobody's place. Nobody owned that hill, but it was beautiful and peaceful and I dreamed many times about a white house over there.
I think that, these kinds of places are meaningful to people because they are natural and people can be there alone, away from their everyday life.
I used to go there to be alone or to dream with my eyes open admiring the blue sky or the clouds. I liked to go there to lay down on the grass, listen to the wind, kiss the flowers and watch the leaves moving. It was hard to go up the hill to get there, but I wanted to see everyday my seven trees, to see how the color of the leaves changed and to feel the softness of the grass.
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Appalachian Mountains Coal Industry Go Back White House Maple Kiss Nobody Bugs Apartment Buildings
I used to go there with a reason or with no reason at all. I knew that I had to be there to forget who I am, to breath and re-feed myself with hope. That was the only place I could go to dance, or sing, or cry. That place was part of me. The wind was part of my breath, the leaves were part of my song, the flowers were part of my purity and the trees were my friends that I used to hug every time when I got there.
I used to go there even in winter to play with clean snow. In my native town, even after a fresh snow, we got a gray-black layer of soot over the snow. All the town was covered with dirty snow.
During winter time my place was still beautiful. My trees had branches full of white, heavy snow. The flowers, the birds, the grass were gone, also the rock I used to sit on was hard to be found, but it was still peaceful, quiet and especially clean. The snow angels I made kept watch over this natural splendor.
This place is far, far-away in time and space, part of my childhood and my adolescence. It means a lot to me because it is beautiful and natural, is a clean and quiet place in a world of noise and dirty air. This place is maybe beautiful just in my mind, but it is one of the few friends I had, back in Romania. I really hope that the new construction will spare this place and others like it, for these are the places that can bring us happiness.
“Descriptive writing is an art form. It’s painting a word picture so that the reader ‘sees’ exactly what you are describing.”
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What’s the big deal about writing descriptively? For one thing, it’s much more than page-filling fluff. Descriptive writing imprints images into the reader’s mind, making you feel as though you’re “right there.” It‘s all about engaging the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch to transport the reader and stir emotion. By choosing vivid details and colorful words, good writers bring objects, people, places, and events to life. Instead of merely telling you what they see, they use their words to show you.
Writers use this powerful method to make their pieces memorable—even brilliant—rather than dry and boring. In many ways, description is the most important kind of writing you can teach your children. Why? Because it supports other reasons for writing such as storytelling, informative reports, or persuasion.
Even if your child never aspires to write stories or poetry, description is a wonderful skill to develop. Without it, all other writing falls flat.
Describing a Place
Vivid writing is especially important when describing a place — whether to describe a vista for a travel guide or flesh out a scene in a novel.
Master storyteller Charles Dickens was also a master of using description to create a mood.
It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, arid vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. ~Charles Dickens, Hard Times
But your child doesn’t have to be a Dickens to add color, depth, and interest to his writing. Here, a ninth grader draws on all five senses to describe a place and create a mood.
Moist and salty, a chilly breeze blows in across the swells, bringing with it the pungent smells of seaweed and fish and making me pull my jacket a little closer. Sea spray transforms into fiery prisms as the waves splash against the shore, catch the last golden rays of sun, and toss them up like liquid crystals.
With a few tips and tools, your child can effectively describe a place too.
Suppose he’s planning to write about a desert. He’ll need to describe basic desert features, of course: sand, rock, hills, and dunes. But deserts aren’t all alike, so his word choices will need to reflect the kind of desert he wants to write about. For example, if he chooses a desert in the southwestern United States, he’ll probably describe plants such as sagebrush, Joshua trees, yuccas, or saguaro cacti.
But if he’s writing about an oasis in the Sahara Desert, where vegetation is much different, he would instead describe date palms, oleanders, acacia trees, succulents, and desert grasses. His description of either desert scene will spring to life as he tells about these places using rich and appropriate details.
Finding Vocabulary for Describing a Place
How do you help your child study his subject and choose strong words that make his writing sparkle? Whether he decides to write about a desert, city, rain forest, or pond, these ideas will help him find words that will form the foundation of his descriptive piece, narrative story, or report.
Using a Search Engine
Search engines such as Google make a great resource for inspiration. In addition to collecting general terms about the location’s flora and fauna (the desert, for example), he’ll also find concrete, specific nouns and adjectives that add color to his writing. Suggest that he begin his search by looking up terms like these:
- desert landscape
- desert features
- desert climate
- desert plants
- desert animals
- desert description
What if your child wants to describe a city instead of a desert? City words are trickier to find, and he may have to hunt more. Try some of these search terms:
- describe city sights
- describe Chicago, describe Pittsburgh, etc.
- “describe downtown” (use quotes)
Using Other Sources
While search engines can lead you to a wealth of information, don’t discount the value of print media such as magazines and books. Also consider digital media such as TV documentaries or DVDs about the subject.
When describing a place, visit in person, if possible. But if not, can you explore a spot with similar features? Many children are visual and tactile learners. If your child wants to describe what a sidewalk looks like, how about taking him outside to explore the sidewalk on your street? It will help him describe the texture, color, and appearance of a city sidewalk, even if you live in a suburb.
As your child searches the Internet, ask him to keep an eye out for adjectives that describe desert or city features (or whatever place he wants to write about). Encourage him to come up with words on his own, but also to watch for words he meets in articles or photo captions.
If he doesn’t understand some of the words, pull out the dictionary and make it a teaching moment! And show him how to use a thesaurus (we love The Synonym Finder[aff]) to find other words that say the same thing. Both of these exercises will help his vocabulary to grow.
Some Desert Adjectives
Desert:harsh, dry, arid, sparse, severe, hot
Rock:sharp, rough, jagged, angular
Grasses:windblown, bent, dry, pale green, brown
Sand:coarse, fine, glittering, shifting, rippling, sifting, white, golden
Sky:pale, intense, cloudless, azure, purple, crimson
Cactus:tall, short, squatty, spiny, prickly, thorny
Date palm:tall, bent, leather (leaves), frayed (leaves)
Some City Adjectives
City:active, bustling, noisy, busy, clean, dirty, windy
Traffic:loud, congested, snarled
Buildings:old, shabby, rundown, crumbling, modern, futuristic, sleek, towering, squat
Buildings (walls):brick, stone, marble, glass, steel, graffiti-covered
Monuments, statues:stone, copper, carved, ancient, moss-covered, faded, green, bronze
Sidewalk:concrete, cement, slick, cracked, tidy, littered, swept
Paint:fresh, weathered, peeling
Signs:neon, weathered, worn, bright, welcoming, flashing
Buses, cars, taxis:belching, crawling, speeding, honking, waiting, screeching
People:hurried, bundled, smiling, frowning, eager, rushed
Use these suggestions to encourage your child come up with ideas for describing a place of his own. You’ll both discover that hunting for words can become a favorite pre-writing game! And as your child dabbles more and more in descriptive writing, I’m confident his words will soon begin to “show” more and “tell” less.
. . . . .
Do you struggle with teaching and grading writing? Does your child’s writing need a boost? Consider adding WriteShop to your curriculum choices for this school year!
The first seven lessons of WriteShop I specifically teach your teen descriptive writing. This important skill is then practiced in the remaining informative and narrative writing lessons. In addition, WriteShop teaches—and offers practice in using—a wide array of sentence variations that help to enhance a student’s paper with fresh style and vigor. When combined with strong, dynamic word choices, sentence variations give dull writing new life.
For younger children, WriteShop Primary introduces K-3rd graders to activities that widen their writing vocabulary. Book C contains three specific descriptive writing lessons. WriteShop Junior, for upper elementary, also provides many opportunities for students to incorporate description.
Learn more here.
Photos: Alice, Dietmar Temps, & Phillip Capper, courtesy of Creative Commons