In my Advanced Writing Class, we read some sample descriptions of people and I asked the students to pick someone and write their own description.
We are using Writing with Skill, by Susan Wise Bauer, and on page 215 of the ebook she lists some traits one can look for and describe in a person.
Description of a Person Definition:
A description of selected physical and non-physical aspects of a person. Decide on which aspects will be included. They may include:
Sound of voice
What others think
Portrayals and portraits
Challenges and difficulties
Expressions of face and body
Talents and abilities
Economic status (wealth)
Fame, notoriety, prestige
Family traditions, tendencies
Below are two descriptions my students wrote:
Confidently dressed in red, and always dressed in red, Santa Claus is the epitome of joy in the world. Along with the everlasting smile on his face, Santa's deep, rich voice evokes a sense of wisdom and generates a sense of trust for all. Unsurprisingly, society is naturally attracted to his unique aura as a result.
His unmistakable white beard extends down to his stomach, creating a sense of wonder and provoking awe among the masses. However, it is his equipment -- gigantic goodie bag that never fails to surprise-- that steals the show. In a world where challenges are prevalent and meeting obstacles is inevitable, having a friend who rewards one for his or her efforts while never discourages is a true blessing for all.
In addition to being deeply rooted in Christianity, which promotes values of equality and reward for the faithful, Santa Claus brings yet another form of utility within the household: discipline. His presence commands children to sleep early, catch up on schoolwork, do the dishes, and much more. The possibility of being on Santa's naughty list terrifies many as their dream toy may disappear along with their wrongdoings.
Despite this potential fear factor that Santa places among the young of society, Santa maintains his annual tradition of riding his sleigh across the world and delivering presents to all the well-behaved children. This consistency has not only earned him widespread international support, but also much respect as his countenance consistently creates a calming yet inspiring mood in the world of darkness. -- Aaron, Grade 11 student, Hsinchu, Taiwan
Scott's feedback: I like how this writer, Aaron, picked Santa as his person to describe. Creative! Good hook: "Confidently dressed in red, and always in red...." Fine use of a variety of punctuation too, including dashes and a colon, keeps the flow moving. Aaron employs alliteration: "his countenance consistently creates a calming...."
Brandon Crawford, all-star shortstop for the San Francisco Giants, has been a consistent performer for the three-time World Champions since he debuted. He stands out on the field, dishing out seemingly-impossible defensive plays with his luscious locks flying out behind him. Crawford’s calm and collected demeanor lets players and fans alike feel secure when a ball is hit in his direction. Furthermore, his improving prowess at the plate has been crucial to the Giants’ success. The power that Crawford possesses makes him a luxury, as shortstops that can both hit and field are rare. His smooth swing is always a pleasure to watch.
Outside of his playing, Crawford is also a family-man, seen through his interactions with fans, his teammates, and his family. Often, he can be seen signing autographs for kids, or discussing strategies with his fellow infielders. He also runs a blog with longtime teammate Brandon Belt, showing his humorous yet self-effacing personality. As a caring, fun-loving dad of five, his social media is full of pictures of their family trips or activities as well. Because of his well-roundness and ability to please fans, players, and family on and off the field, he is someone a kid can look up to. -- Justin, Grade 12 student, Hsinchu, Taiwan
Scott's feedback: This author, Justin, loves baseball and once lived in California, so it makes sense he described a baseball star. This just goes to show: 1. writers make deliberate choices, 2. writing is an extension of you, and 3. if you write with your authentic voice, no one else can copy you! Justin has GREAT word choice: consistent, debuted, dishing out, demeanor, etc. I also like his three examples of alliteration, shown in bold underlining above.
A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.dreyercoaching.com/en/about/scott-dreyer