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The Power of Description--examples

--refer back to The Power of Description for the Techniques of Description

Adjectives, details, naming:
It is a somber Christmas day and as family tradition every year, we get together at my grandparent's house to exchange bright, sparkling wrapped gifts.  But there will be no unwrapping of gifts this year; my grandmother is about to pass away. As I pulled up to the white and aqua, two-story house that sits on Woodlawn Lake, my heart started to sink into my stomach.


Descriptive verbs, (adjectives, adverbs, naming):
Nonnie had a dining arrangement set up in the sunroom overlooking the back yard to taunt us with the hidden Easter eggs.  Dangling from tree branches were colorful plastic eggs suspended by festive ribbon, giant rabbits carved from slabs of Styrofoam stood merrily around the patio, and on the actual dining table in the dining room sat our seasonal Easter baskets along with the time-honored lamb-shaped cake covered in coconut fur peering through M & M eyes.


Good Comparisons and Sounds:
My old clunker was definitely a piece of junk; it was like an old rusty tin can  just waiting to get stepped on.  "Spoo! Spoo!" went the sounds of the squirt bottle as my family sprayed themselves with water.

It was the first football game of the season, and the stands were so crowded that from a distance they looked like a big blanket of red was thrown on top of them.


Sounds, smells:

Walking toward the cheerfully decorated house, I could already hear some humorous laughs and the sounds of jazzy music coming from within the frosted windows; this was a sign that the party had already started long before we arrived. While making our way to the brightly lighted house, my parents and I could smell the pre-celebration fireworks invading the bitter winter air that had arrived just a few days earlier that week.


Naming, good verb:
.so there we sat, a family of seven, tightly packed into our 1984 silver Volvo station wagon.  .Upon our arrival, we were engulfed with a barrage of hugs, kisses, handshakes, and the standard, "How are you doing?"


Examples of moving from "telling" to "showing:"

TELLING:  As I noticed everyone laughing and pointing at Santa, I looked to him to find Santa had dropped his pants.  There he stood with red pants fallen around his ankles, still unaware of his loss, happily cheering, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

SHOWING: I noticed my cousins with eyes like saucers and hands over their mouths, pointing as they snickered.  I turned and saw Santa teetering happily on bare white legs and bony knees, his red pants crunched around his ankles.  Unaware of his fallen condition, he cheered happily, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"


TELLING: He was honking the horn and screaming his lungs out.  Your father was sitting right beside him, just as happy as could be.

SHOWING: He was honking the horn and screaming his lungs out.  Your father was perched beside him with a smile the size of the Grand Canyon on his face, bouncing up and down as he waved his arms as if he were riding a bucking bronco.


TELLING: So I went into the kitchen, grabbed a pan, and threw it on top of the tent.  The tent caved inwards.

SHOWING: So I stormed into the linoleum-tiled kitchen that smelled of bacon from breakfast.  Tearing open a low cabinet, I grabbed a heavy metal skillet like you see used to bang people's on cartoons.  Returning to the living room, I cast the pan onto my sister's tent.  First the blankets collapsed, then the chairs fell inwards and I heard a loud "Clang," followed by an even louder, "Ouch!"


TELLING: Momma realized when she got home that it was extremely quiet.  That was unusual because Kari had a big mouth.

SHOWING: Momma realized something was wrong.  All she heard was the quiet hum of the refrigerator and the soft whoosh of the air conditioner.  She could even hear the dog scratching on the door in the back den.  It was never this quiet when Kari was here-she had a big mouth.


TELLING: Once we got to the bank of the river, we put our feet in the water.  It was very cold, but we decided to get in anyway.

SHOWING: Once we arrived at the bank of the Guadalupe River, Frank walked into the water first and gave a loud, "Yeow."  My sister Jill jumped from the water like she had received an electric shock and stood back again on the rocks shivering and huddling in a strange standing ball, like a flamingo.  Despite the temperature of the water, we plowed in anyway.

 

 

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