Year 10 Homework: Describing a Place

Finish your description and bring it to tomorrow’s lesson. Remember the Golden Rules:

1. It’s not a story, so nothing needs to happen.

2. The more details you include the more imaginative you will hve to be. Imagine you are there and make things up!

3. It’s poetry. (But in prose.) Think about the sounds of the words, the length of the sentences, the pace of the writing.


It’s like a giant plughole in the basin of the world I thought, looking down at the chasm. But without a plug. And dusty. The diamond mine was located in one of the world’s largest deserts – not far from the wadis of Jordan and the Dead Sea. Around the curve of its eastern edge lay a chequerboard of squares, as if etched into the sand by a stick-weilding child on a beach. Inside these squares were the remains of the houses and buildings that had been homes and offices during the mine’s functional days. Like a model village, they lined the criss-cross of roads with mathematical precision. The effect was strange: the regimented alignment of the buildings and the swirling circle of the mine that seemed to move if you let your eyes relax. But the strangest thing about it was not what you could see, but what you couldn’t. Where were the people?

Click here for the 38 Most Haunting Abandoned Places in the World


Descriptive Writing: Introducing a Character (or two. But not more than two.)

Right then.

It may well be the case that, having extablished a sense of place, you wish to introduce some characters. You do not have to, of course, but should you feel so inclined, you are more than welcome.

As long as you do it well.

BIG FAT WARNING: Don’t fall into the narrative death trap! Remember, you are only being assessed on your ability to describe stuff. So nothing needs to happen. If things start happening, cross them out.

BIG FAT TIP: Personally, I’m not really that enthralled by the typical description of a character’s appearance. You know the sort:

He was 5’9”, with brown hair and dark brown eyes. He was wearing a navy blue tracksuit, with Nike trainers, and carrying a rucksack.

It’s not that I don’t want to know what they look like, it’s just that I’m a little bit nosier than that. I want to know what’s going on. You know, really. I want to know that they’re feeling really angry, the kind of angry where you think you might cry at any moment, because it’s just not fair. But I don’t want you to tell me. I want to have to figure it out for myself, like I would in real life:

He remained perfectly still, almost too still, it seemed, for it seemed as if he was suspended in time, and I thought for a moment that he had stopped breathing. It struck me that his eyes were unblinking, and, as I watched, the lines of his mouth began to harden, and his nostrils grew large, and the traces of a frown darkened, solidifying themselves into deeper, darker tracks that scored the surface of his forehead.

Filling in a table, like the one below, might help you get a sense of your character, before you begin to write. (This is called ‘planning’.)

  Character 1: EXCITED Character 2: ANGRY Character 3: SCARED
Facial expressions       
Actions / Body Language      

And remember, we don’t need to know why your character is feeling like this (that would be the beginnings of a narrative) but just what they are feeling. It’s the literary equivalent of an emoticon.

Please feel free to post your descriptions below.

I would love that.