Dr. William Major


I. Dominant Impression

 a. Do not try to do too much: leave your reader with one overall impression
 b. Perhaps focus on one sense (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch)
 c. Isolate important details and focus on them
d. Drop irrelevant details—those that lead you away from the impression that you wish to create.

II. Language

 a. Use concrete and specific details that support your thesis:

  1. the details should be significant; it should speak to your purpose
2. the language should come alive:
ex: There were spots on his shoes.
Stained with a yellowish film from heal to toe, his tattered shoes made me feel empty inside, as if I were also somehow stained.

III. Impressionistic (subjective) versus Objective descriptions

a. Do not simply describe the physical appearance of a person or object—describe an attitude, a psychology

b. Your description should have an emotional appeal to be interesting to your readers. For example, a description of a messy room will not have the same emotional impact as will your description of how the room makes you feel: empty, depressed, out of control, and so on.

IV. Organization: Structure is necessary, but don’t let it limit you.

 a. Organize rationally; your paper needs some principle of organization

1. Space: large to small, front to back, near to far, left to right, up to down, etc. Or:
2. Attractive/Unattractive, First impressions/Second Impression,

V. Thesis

a. Without an organizing idea, your paper will be a random and shapeless thing. Remember, you are not taking inventory—you are conveying an emotion.