English 1301 - Composition & Grammar
Assignment #2: Narration, Description, & Illustration

Reading Assignment
  • The Longman Writer, Ch. 10, "Description", pp. 150 - 190
  • The Longman Writer, Ch. 11, "Narration", pp. 191 - 225
  • The Longman Writer, Ch. 12, "Illustration", pp. 226 - 267

  • Writing Assignment
    Write an essay in which you recount an episode from your childhood (it may be fictional).  The purpose of the essay is to narrate a descriptive account of an incident that illustrates the truth of the saying "It's better to be safe than sorry."  Your information sources for this essay should include memory (your memory of the incident or someone else's) and imagination.  Be sure to see the examples in The Longman Writer and the notes below for more information pertaining to this assignment.

    When writing descriptively, remember that you should include details that bring your work to life for the reader.  Try to make your audience experience the incident.  People process information through their senses; describe not only what you saw, but also what you felt, heard, smelled, and tasted (if relevant).

    Don't forget that there is a purpose behind your writing.  Be sure that your writing supports your thesis statement.  Your thesis could be as simple as "Experience taught me that it is better to be safe than sorry."  However, if the subsequent example (story) from your childhood does not clearly illustrate your thesis statement, you have wasted your time.  Similarly, if you fail to provide enough details to be effectively descriptive, your example may be too vague for your audience to relate.

    This essay should be a minimum of 500 words in length.  I will be checking your essay to see that you have included an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, fully developed body paragraphs with transitions, and a concluding paragraph that neatly wraps up your essay.  Be sure to check your essay for grammar/mechanics and formatting errors prior to submitting it for evaluation.  See pages 526 - 530 in The Little, Brown Handbook, Brief Version for information on proper MLA formatting and the heading for your essay.

    Lecture Outline


        The purpose of a narrative may be explicit (stated), or implicit (unstated)
        All narrative writing either tells what happened, or establishes interesting or useful facts
        Narration may also explore motives behind events, or offer insights or lessons related to the purpose or theme
        Action is central to any narrative
        Narration re-creates action for the audience
          Action refers not only to exciting events, but also to everything happening in the narrative; verbs convey the action
          Actions included in a narrative must relate to the purpose or thesis
          Only key events should be included
        Conflict motivates action
        Three types of conflict
          Person versus Person
          Person versus Nature
          Person versus Self
        First Person
          "I," "We"
          Autobiographical; narrator is involved in the action
        Third Person
          "He," "She," "It," "They"
          Biographical; narrator is not involved in the action
        Animates narratives
          Varies the text by breaking up descriptive sections
          Resembles conversation


        Descriptive writing may stand alone or be used to enhance other writing
        All description creates sensory experiences or establishes mood for the audience
        Description may also be used to improve understanding or lead to action
        Include Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, and Taste
        Recording these impressions requires close observation or careful recall
          Re-examine the subject being described, or memories of the subject
          Capture details with words that are appropriate to the audience and purpose
            Diction; Connotation (Euphemism/Dysphemism), Denotation, etc.
          Describe using comparison
            Similie, Metaphor, Analogy, Alegory, etc.
            Compare an unfamiliar subject to a fimiliar subject
            Be sure that the subjects are appropriate to the audience and purpose
        The overall mood, feeling, emotion, etc.
          Joy, anger, terror, disgust, comfort, etc.
          May be identified or unidentified in the text
          Is affected by author's diction
        Fixed vantage point
          Observation of details from a single location or time
          May be fixed physically and mobile chronologically, or vice versa
        Mobile vantage point
          Observation of details from multiple locations (ex: several towns), a moving location (ex: view from a train or ship window), or over time (ex: the rise of a civilization)
            The author must signal changes in the vantage point to the audience
              Signals may include phrases such as the following: "farther along," "in the next town," "later," etc.
            The author must also transition logically from one point of observation to the next
        Include details that:
          Contribute to the mood
          Support the thesis and purpose
        Exclude details that:
          Are insignificant
          Distract the audience
        Details should be organized in a clear and logical pattern to:
          Guide the reader through the writing
          Fulfill the purpose of the writing
          Should sharpen understanding and focus for the audience
          Visual/Spatial: Top to Bottom, Left to Right, Near to Far, etc.
          Chronological Organization
          General Impression to Specific Details, or Specific Details to General Impression
          Most Significant Details to Least Significant Details, or Least Significant Details to Most Significant Details
          Or any organized progression of details that aids in the audience's understanding of the experience being described