Descriptive Writing Prompt: Deserted Island

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Deserted Island
Deserted Island 2

Being washed ashore on a strange or deserted island is one of the most popular ideas in literature and pop culture. Think about how many well-known stories involve this idea: Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, The Tempest, Lord of the Flies, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Cay, not to mention TV and film versions like Lost, Gilligan’s Island and Castaway.

Obviously, the idea itself isn’t very original, but what is interesting is the different approaches each of these stories takes. This assignment is to write a brief description of a mysterious island from your own unique perspective.

A deserted island might be an amazing, beautiful place that you might not want to leave. On the other hand, it could be a dark, dangerous, or lonely place that has you yearning for home. In this assignment, we want you think consider both options: an island as a dream come true and an island as a nightmare.

First, we’ll start with a prewriting exercise:

1Imagine being stranded on a deserted island paradise. What you discover is a dream come true. Think about what that place would look like, sound like, smell, and feel like. Use the chart below to brainstorm descriptive words and images that appeal to the five senses:

Island as Dream Come True

Sight

 

 

 

Sound

 

 

 

Smell

 

 

 

Touch

 

 

 

Taste

 

 

 

 

2Now imagine the same experience as a complete nightmare. What might a horrible, terrifying island be like? Use the chart below to brainstorm words and phrases that describe this very different image:

Island as Nightmare

Sight

 

 

 

Sound

 

 

 

Smell

 

 

 

Touch

 

 

 

Taste

 

 

 

 

3Now look through your two lists and circle the words and phrases that you think are the most interesting, original and vivid — the ones you are most likely to use in your description. Don’t worry about how many you circle or how many you leave out. It’s up to you.

4Using these words and images, write a description of one of these islands — you decide which one. Remember, this is description, not narration. You are not telling a story, you are painting a word-picture. Still,  it is okay to include action. Things can move, including your narrator.  Just be sure that your main purpose is to communicate the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the island. Try to be original and include specific details that will make the island come alive for your reader.

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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