Chapter 7 Descriptive Narration: Moving Through Spece and Time

Chapter 7 Descriptive Narration:
Moving Through Spece and Time

Writing Descriptive Narration

As patterns of writing, description and narration are almost always associated. We would almost never describe something without relating it to somenthing else, especially to a story, or narrative.

What is the Narrative?

The narrative is an account of an incident or a series of incidents that make up a complete and significant action.

Narrative Patterns

  • Situation - is the background for the action.
  • Couflict - is friction, such as a problem in the surroundings, with another person, or within the individual.
  • Struggle - which need not be physical, is the manner of dealing with conflict.
  • Outcome - is the result of the struggle.
  • Meaning - is the significance of the story, which may be deeply philosophical or simple, stated or implied.
Verb Tense

  • Most narratives (often summaries) based on literature are written in the present tense.
  • Most historical events and personal experiences are writtem in the past tense.
Point of View

Point of View shows the writer's relationship to the material and the subject, and it usually doesn't change within a passage.


Dialogue is used purposefully in narration to characterize, particularize, and support ideas.

Descriptive Patterns

Descriptive is the use of words to represent the appearance or nature of something.

Types of Descriptive

  • Effective Objective Description presents the subject clearly and dirctly as it exists outside the realm of emotions.
  • Effective Subjective Description is also concerned with clarity and it may be direct, but it conveys a feeling about the subject and sets a mood while making a point.
Techniques of Descriptive Writing

  • Emphasize a single point (dominant impression).
  • Choose our words with care
  • Eatablish a perspective from which to describe our subject (point of view).
  • Position the details for coherence (order).
Use these techniques or devices as appropriate

  • Images that appeal to the senses (sight smell taste hearing touch) and other details to advance action.
  • Diaglogue
  • ransitional devices (such as next,soon,after,later,then,finally,when,following) to indicate chronological order.
  • Give details concerning action.
  • Be consistent with point of view and verb tense.
  • Keep in mind that most narratives written as college assignments will have an expository purpose, that is, they explain a specific idea.
  • Consider working with a short time frame for short writing assignments. The scope would usually be no more than one incident of brief duration for one paragraph. For example, writing about an entire graduation ceremony might be too complicated, but concentrating on the moment when you walked forward to receive the diploma or the moment when the relatives and friends come down on the field could work very well.

In objective description, use direct, practical language appealing mainly to the sense of sight.

In subjective description, appeal to the reader's feelings, especially through the use of figurative language and the use of images of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Use concretem, specific words if appropriate. Apply these questions to your writing:

  • What is the subject?
  • What is the dominant impression i am trying to convery?
  • What details support the dominant impression?
  • What is the situation?
  • What is the order of the details?
  • What is the point of view? (first or third person? Involved or objective?)
Consider giving the description a narrative framework. Include some action.

Source:Brandon, Lee. Brandon, Kelly. Paragraphs and Essays with Integrated Readings, Tenth Edition. Boston, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008

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