Descriptive Paragraph #2

Visitors to beaumonthardy.com often want to learn about writing more interesting and effective descriptive paragraphs. As any writer knows, descriptive paragraphs are important in both fiction and nonfiction, and a well-crafted paragraph can make the difference between mediocre and outstanding writing. Although writing coaches often suggest that the best descriptive paragraphs appeal to each of the five senses, I believe that successful description need not adhere to a sensory checklist.

The following is an unedited descriptive paragraph about a place. Below the unedited version is my edit of the same text. My editorial comments are at the bottom of this post.

The pools were hot and steamy, and the jungle loomed darkly around them. There were actually two separate pools, separated from each other by a narrow stone walkway that looked dark and damp in the moonlight. There were dim lights in the pools, which made the swimmers look like shadows in the water. Little drifts of steam wafted above the surface of the water, which seemed to gently lap against the stone walls of the pool. The air felt warm and damp, and it seemed held in place by the black jungle surrounding them. Cora could feel a thrill of danger as she removed her towel and stepped into the hot and steamy water with the jungle all around.

After editing, the descriptive paragraph reads as follows:

The two pools were hot and steamy, and the jungle loomed darkly around them.  The narrow stone walkway separating the pools looked damp in the moonlight, and the dim pool lights made the swimmers look like shadows in the water. Little drifts of steam wafted above the surface of the water, which gently lapped against the stone walls of the pools. The air felt warm and damp, held in place as it was by the black jungle surrounding them. Cora felt a thrill of danger as she removed her towel and stepped into the steamy water.

Below is the paragraph with my editing marks. My comments to the author are in brackets and italicized. The portions I cut appear with a strike-through, and the portions I added are underlined. (In a normal Word document with “Track Changes,” my editing marks are in red, and my comments are in their own separate section, not inserted into the text.)

The two pools were hot and steamy, and the jungle loomed darkly around them. [I added “two” so that I could simplify the sentence that follows.] There were actually two separate pools, separated from each other by a The narrow stone walkway separating the polls that looked dark and damp in the moonlight., [The imagery in this sentence is good, but it gets lost among too many words. I’ve pared down the sentence. In general, I think it’s best to avoid beginning a sentence—especially a descriptive one—with “There were.” In this sentence and the one that follows, I’ve altered the sentences so that they begin more actively and colorfully.] and tThere were dim pool lights in the pools, which made the swimmers look like shadows in the water. [I eliminated “in the pools” to get rid of the repetition of “in the.”] Little drifts of steam wafted above the surface of the water, which seemed to gently lapped against the stone walls of the pool. [“Seemed to” weakens the description. In this case, the water probably does, in fact, lap against the walls of the pools, right?] The air felt warm and damp, and it seemed held in place  as it was by the black jungle surrounding them. Cora could feel felt a thrill of danger as she removed her towel and stepped into the hot and steamy water with the jungle all around. [This is a good, solid description. Eliminating a few extraneous words helps it read more powerfully.]

Let me know what you think of this edit. I would love to hear from you.

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2 Responses to “Descriptive Paragraph #2”

  1. rachel hardy says:

    hey,ur editting is good.i think ur a relative of mines.i live in north carolina. do u know jeff hardy?? im his cousin. where are u from?

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for reading my blog. I don’t know Jeff Hardy, but I like his name. 🙂

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