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Description Unit AP Language & Composition. Descriptive Writing Purposes. To convey information without bias or emotion To convey it with feeling. Detailed Language Ex: humid, sticky day Backlighted by the sun and smelling faintly sweet, an acre of tiny lavender flowers spread away from me. .

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Description Unit AP Language & Composition

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Description unit ap language composition l.jpg
Description UnitAP Language & Composition


Descriptive writing purposes l.jpg
Descriptive Writing Purposes

  • To convey information without bias or emotion

  • To convey it with feeling


Concrete vs abstract language l.jpg

Detailed Language

Ex: humid, sticky day

Backlighted by the sun and smelling faintly sweet, an acre of tiny lavender flowers spread away from me.

Vague Language

Ex: hot day

Beautiful, scented wildflowers were in the field.

Concrete vs. Abstract Language


Objective description l.jpg
Objective Description

You describe your subject so clearly and exactly that your reader will understand it or recognize it AND you omit your feelings.

Ex: Technical or scientific descriptive writing is objective (i.e. biology report).


Subjective description l.jpg
Subjective Description

You describe your subject with emotional, personal, or impressionistic appeal.

Ex: An email to a friend or a magazine advertisement for a new car.


Objective description vs subjective description l.jpg

“Imagine the ship herself, with every pulse and artery of her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.” Charles Dickens, American Notes

“At 0600 hours, watch reported a wind from due north of 70 knots. Whitecaps were noticed, in height two ells above the bow. Below deck, much gear was reported adrift, and ten casks of ale were broken and the staves strewn about.” Charles Dickens, Ships Log

Objective Description vs. Subjective Description


Description writing l.jpg
Description Writing her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.”

It is usually weaved into other rhetorical strategies. It enlivens narration, argument, and cause and effect.


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The Process: Purpose her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.”

  • Determine if it is appropriate to perceive and report without emotion (objective description) or…

  • Express your feelings as well and your perceptions (subjective description)


The process audience l.jpg
The Process: Audience her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.”

  • What do your readers need to be told?

  • What must you tell?

  • Look at or imagine your subject.

  • What do I plan to accomplish?


Dominant impression l.jpg
Dominant Impression her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.”

  • When you consider your aim in describing, let your description convey one DOMINANT IMPRESSION

    • Ex: If you plan to write a subjective description of an old house, laying weight on its spooky atmosphere for readers you wish to make shiver, then you might mention its squeaking bats and its shadowy halls, leaving out any reference to its busy swimming pool and the stomping dance music that billows from its interior.


Dominant impression thesis l.jpg
Dominant Impression =Thesis her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.”

  • The dominant impression is the THESIS of your description—the main idea about your subject that you want readers to take away with them; it is best to state it outright.

    • Ex: “A number of unique features distinguish this frog from others in the order of Anura.” (Biology Report on a Species on Frogs)


Organization l.jpg
Organization her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.”

  • A subjective description (i.e. depicting the sounds at sea into two parts: 1. The sounds of the sailors and 2. The sounds of the sea).

  • Point of View (i.e. a consistent point of view who observes steadily—from left to right, from near to far, from top to bottom, from center to periphery, prominent objects or tiny ones, etc.) How did you shape your journal?

  • Be consistent in your design.


Details l.jpg
Details her huge body swollen and bursting…sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds in fearful sympathy with the waves making another ocean in the air.”

  • Vividness (the evocativeness of the details)

  • Images (language calling up concrete sensory experiences)

  • Figures of speech (connotations vs. denotations, metaphors, etc.)

    Ex: “The sound it made was as big as God. It kicked little me back to the ground like a bully, like a foe.” (Vowell, Shooting Dad)


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