Descriptive language is used to help the reader feel almost as if they are a part of the scene or event being described. Description is useful because it helps readers engage with the world of the story, often creating an emotional response. It can help a reader visualise what a character or a place is like.
Here are some techniques and examples of how they can be used:
|Simile - a descriptive technique that compares one thing with another, usually using 'as' or 'like'.||The trees stood as tall as towers.|
|Metaphor - a descriptive technique that names a person, thing or action as something else.||The circus was a magnet for the children.|
|Hyperbole - a use of obvious exaggeration for rhetorical effect.||The sun scorched through the day.|
|Personification - a metaphor attributing human feelings to an object.||The sun smiled at the hills, ready to begin a new day.|
|Pathetic fallacy - a type of personification where emotions are given to a setting, an object or the weather.||The clouds crowded together suspiciously overhead as the sky darkened.|
|Onomatopoeia - words that sound a little like they mean.||The autumn leaves and twigs cracked and crunched underfoot.|
|Oxymoron - a phrase combining two or more contradictory terms.||There was a deafening silence|
|Emotive language - language intended to create an emotional response.||A heart-breaking aroma of death filled the air as he surveyed the devastation and destruction that had befallen them all.|
In the example below, look at how the writer uses descriptive techniques to create a vivid setting for the reader and how the weather reflects the mood of the text.
The ground crumbled like sand under my feet as I heaved another step towards the summit. Looking below, the trees were dots to my squinting eyes in the midday heat. Beating down upon my back, the sun was relentless as I wiped the drips of salty sweat from my neckline. The silence of the chasm below was deafening; suddenly, eagles broke the silence and screeched above me in hunger.
The writing opens with a simile to show the texture of the ground. The sun is personified as it is described as ‘relentless’, giving it a ruthless personality. The silence is described as ‘deafening’, an oxymoron that helps to emphasise how unbearable the situation is for the character. Pathetic fallacy has been used here - the uncomfortable heat mirrors the character’s struggle as she continues on her journey. These descriptive techniques allow the reader to feel as if they are there and pull them into the story.
SPEECHES – English Language coursework guide
At the bottom of the page, you will find links to memorable speeches.
Here are some rhetorical devices and other useful features which you may wish to use in your own speech.
Remember the aim of your speech is to persuade your audience to your point of view:
- Figurative language: metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, litotes (e.g. I wouldn’t say no!)
- Emotive language: e.g. appeals to feelings and moral standpoints, such as sense of justice, guilt, meanness. Note that, for you reasoning purists, appeals such as an ‘Appeal to Authority’ is fallacious when that person’s authority is irrelevant: for instance, The words ‘By Appointment’ on a jar of marmalade implies that if it is good enough for Her Majesty, it should be good enough for you!). Appeals may not be rational but they can nevertheless be effective. More examples.
- Anecdote: a personal account/experience, if used judiciuosly, can be persuasive.
- Use of Facts, quotes and examples: they lend weight to your views by supporting them with evidence.
- Discourse markers: these tell your audience where you are going next! They may be topic sentences or enumeration, which has a build up effect as well as helping your audience to follow your argument.
- Antithesis: You can present the opposing view and destroy it (ruthlessly). (Ridicule can be very effective!)
- Repetition. Examples include: triple phrasing; Anaphora (repetition of sentence beginnings); Epistrophe which is repetition of phrase endings (e.g. of the people, for the people, by the people.); Polysyndeton (frequent use of conjunctions such as ‘and’)
- Cataphoric sentence structure. This is a useful device: for instance, you might raise interest before identifying the actual subject e.g. She had been working on the project for five years before Julie realised…
- First person, Second person, Third person. For instance, you might use the inclusive ‘we’; a synthetically personalised ‘you’; an impersonal ‘they’.
- Rhetorical questions, Give the answers to your questions – you can imply these through the question as well as being explicit.
- Diacope (the verbal sandwich: ‘Fly, my pretties, fly’. The Wicked Witch of the West does not actually say this, so it is a measure of the success of diacope that many people believe she does!)
- Make an impact with your opening statement (always recommended). Maintain the structure an impetus throughout – you certainly don’t want a sagging middle.
- Sentence types. Make the occasional declarative statement in a short sentence, a short paragraph, a minor sentence etc
- Try a hypothetical/conditional argument to support your reasoning! e.g. if humans suddenly developed compassion, no animal would ever see the inside of a cage again.
Gillard’s misogyny speechGillard’s speech transcript
Slavoj Zizek’s Occupy Wall Street speech and transcript.
Anjali Appaduri’sGet it doneClimate Justice speech and transcript.
Erica Goldson’s Graduation Speechtranscript.
Final speech to the student body of Apache Chase.
Student Tec Welcome Speech and transcript (went viral!)