Descriptive Writing Prompt: A Busy Place

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This assignment is an experiment in descriptive writing. Understand that description rarely stands alone in literature; it is normally woven into the fabric of a story or larger work. Your assignment, however, is to avoid story-telling and focus on description alone. Paint a picture using words. Of course your “painting” can appeal to more than just the sense of sight. You can make your reader hear, feel, smell, even taste your subject as well.

Now, just because description and narration are different in purpose doesn’t mean that your description can’t involve action. In fact, a secret to good descriptive writing is motion. That’s why this assignment is intentionally restricted to “active” places. Bring your scene to life by showing people and things in action.

The difference between active description and story-telling is plot. In narrative writing (story-telling) the action has meaning that contributes to the story itself. People make decisions and act in response to some kind of problem that need solving. Purely descriptive writing — like this assignment — may involve people acting and objects moving, but it’s just observation. No meaning is offered for the motion the reader sees.

Some other keys to good description include:

  •  interesting detail
  • specific nouns
  • active, vivid verbs
  • carefully chosen adjectives and adverbs (not too many)
  • appeals to various senses
  • creative comparisons and figures of speech

For this assignment, describe in a few paragraphs a busy, active place. You may choose from the suggestions below or one of your own.

  • a train station

  • a wedding

  • a football game

  • a murder trial

  • a concert                                        

  • an amusement park

  • a church service                          

  • a circus

  • a city street                                    

  • a riot

  • the scene of a crime                   

  • an emergency room

  • a hockey fight                               

  • an assembly line

  • a ballet                                            

  • an earthquake

 *****

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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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