Description Exercise


Four weeks ago today I did an in-class description exercise for Feature Writing. Pretty simple: all I had to do was describe the photo, audio and videos I was provided with. I thought I did quite well. And the mark I received the following week in class confirmed my belief: a distinction (6).


Needless to say that I was pretty happy with that. Actually, I was ridiculously excited. This just confirms what I thought: I’m one of those people who are better at feature writing than news writing.

But I didn’t need to look at my mark to know I did well: the teacher read out mine at the start of class as an example of what to do. I tried swallowing my smile, I really tried.

Seeing as though I’m so proud of my work, I thought I would share it with you (unedited from when I handed it in). I might convince myself to share some work I’m not as proud of, too. What’s there to be afraid of? It’s just the internet. Not many people know about it, right?


Description exercise 1

Margaret sits by the window, her cane hooked over the protective bars. Sun spots dot her wrinkled skin and a light brown wash camouflages her grey perm. Her face is spread into a wide grin, the skin bunching at the sides of her eyes and mouth. Her eyes glisten as she moves the wriggling Rumple, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Shih Tzu cross, to her shoulder and buries her face into his soft, shiny coat.

As a therapy dog, Rumple brings evident joy to the lives of elderly people. Small yellow bows adorn his fluffy black ears and are as bright as Margaret’s face. She wrinkles her nose and laughs as he licks her hands, searching for what he knows is coming. Margaret reaches down and produces a small container of treats. Rumple eagerly accepts what is offered him.

Smiling, she brings the last treat to her own mouth and sets it between her teeth. Rumple, having already followed its progress with sharp eyes, approaches Margaret’s face. His shiny black eyes move from hers to the treat before he leans forward and gently takes it, touching his wet nose to Margaret’s as he does so.


Description exercise 2

Marcus Einfeld has a deep, authoritative voice, the perfection of which he no doubt acquired from his former years as a Federal Court Judge. But he is the one on trial today – for perjury; he gave a sworn statement that his deceased friend was in fact the one driving his car 10km above the speed limit when a radar photographed it. Through the majority of the interview, Einfeld manages to remain calm, and his voice stays steady. But like a dark, threatening sky, so too does his voice hold a shadow of its hidden power.

When the pattern put forward by the prosecution is addressed – that, when Einfeld was faced with a traffic infringement, he would nominate an overseas friend – his voice changes, is injected with passion and rumbles defensively like the approaching storm.

“That’s nonsense,” he says at the outset. But the nearer the storm comes, the more of its dark colours show. He becomes breathless while answering, gasping for more air to fuel his rant.

When pressed even further about why exactly he used his deceased friend’s name on the infringement, he becomes closed, his answers shorter, more clipped. Like the first strikes of lightning, his replies are warnings of the impending rage.

A final sigh during questioning, followed with a sharp, harsh answer – the final boom before the rain. And it’s here – only a few drops at first, as his anger inhibits his answering and makes him stutter and stumble – pelting down, blowing and huffing as his passion and defence rise once again.


Description exercise 3

Whitney Houston walks onto the stage confidently, microphone in hand, and reduces the cheering audience to awed-silence with the first notes of her hit single, “I Will Always Love You”.

Reaching the chorus, the crowd break out again. She closes her eyes in the spotlight, feeling her song, belting out the heart-felt lyrics. Although she only takes up a small space in the middle of the massive stage, her voice fills the auditorium and flows across the moved spectators at the 1994 World Music Awards.

Fast forward 16 years and the larger-than-life, confident woman is hanging off of a microphone stand, sweating in the spotlight. Her powerful voice has been reduced by a scratchy throat.

Reaching the chorus of the same song, she breaks off, looking searchingly at someone backstage, before turning from the microphone and retreating to her bottle of water. After taking a few minutes to compose herself, and with cheers of encouragement from her adoring audience, she returns and belts out one chorus. Finishing more weakly than she started, she smiles proudly at her accomplishment.


Until next time


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