“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekov
“Good description is a learned skill. It’s not just a question of how to; its a question of how much to.” – Stephen King

Reading Assignments:

1.) 8 Tips To Improve Your Descriptive Writing – by Hannah Heath
2.) How to Write Vivid Descriptions – by Chuck Sambuchino
3.) 11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description – by Rachel Scheller
4.) Writing Description in Fiction – by Melissa Donovan
5.) Ursula Le Guin Gives Insightful Writing Advice  – by Ursula Le Guin
6.) Descriptive Writing and the Five Senses – by Harvey Chapman (Click The Art of Descriptive Writing for two more parts to this article)
 

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Writing Assignments:

1.) Using one of your chosen settings, describe it from the point of view of one of your characters. First, describe it in a way that shows your character hates the place. Second, describe it in a way that shows your character loves it. Remember to use as many of the five senses as possible.
2.) This is all about implication. In 200-600 words, you need to describe a character by describing any place inhabited, or frequented by that character, without the character present. In other words, there is no POV character. For added complexity, show the reader that an event has taken place here in the same manner. Everything you include here, whether it be a piece of furniture, a book, clothing, whatever, must be there in order to move the story forward. Don’t forget to include all five senses, if they are relevant to the location. Here are some examples if you get stuck.
3.) This assignment is about the expository lump. In other words, that scene a writer uses just to explain to the reader the correct way to tie a tie, mull wine, or explain how the bug-powered car works. First, come up with something you know how to do that involves a complex series of specific actions (baking a cake, tie-dying a t-shirt…). But make it something a reader is likely not to know, so that they will be interested in knowing how to do it. Now, write a scene, involving at least two people, in which this process is going on, either in the background of a conversation, or as the locus of the action. Keep the description specific and concrete. Make the various steps clear to the reader, but tell it so that the reader doesn’t realize they’re learning How do you do that? By “composting” the information: breaking it up, spreading it out, and slipping it into conversation or action-narration or anywhere you can make it go without it feeling lumpy.

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Class Discussion:

1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before.

Getting in the Mood:

1.) Write for 15 minutes. Remember number nine of the Eleven Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description from above? Take one of your characters and set them in motion using this advice. Write 1-2 paragraphs. Then share with everyone.
2.) Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing. 
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.

Group Assignments:

1.) Split up into small groups. Have each group member share their #2 assignment and let the other members critique it. Does the character come through with the description? Does the event? What else do you notice? Is there any way this piece could be improved? 
2.) Split up into small groups. Have each group member share their #3 assignment and let the other members critique the writer’s ability to hide the process happening within the narration.