Descriptive Writing Assignment {Positive and Negative Descriptions} [‘A*’-grading, 2000/2001]

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“Use ‘Carn Brea Market’ as a model. Compose two descriptions of places with people congregating. One should praise and one condemn the place and people. Write a commentary to explain your use of lexis, metaphor, POV and syntax.”

{Descriptive writing CONTENTS: Positive description; Negative description; Commentary.}

AND THEY BLAME IT ON MARILYN…
From the perspective of a fan:

{Positive descriptive writing CONTENTS: Fans’ sense of acceptance and happiness – appreciation of individuality; Emotional release through music – reverence of Marilyn Mansun; Hopeful and optimistic entrance to stadium – ego boosted by admiring looks from the bouncers – positive descriptions of weather, place and props; High-quality hospitality; Close-knit musical community; Fans’ collective exclamation [positive]; Marilyn’s memorable entrance and performance; Crowd-surfing expectations.}[^]

Standing here, amongst thousands of interesting, real people, I feel happy and accepted; at peace with myself and the world at large. Intelligent people blend easily with the less gifted; the rich mingle with the poor, without discrimination. We are genuine people. We all have our own personal and distinctive styles. We are fans of Marilyn Mansun.[^]

We are queuing to see our hero. We vent our anger or other pent-up emotions through music, leading otherwise civilised lives. Rebelling through music harms nobody; we are harmless disciples of our God- He who tells it as it is. Other people don’t really understand us. That’s fine. They haven’t had the troubled pasts we’ve had, the difficulty in expressing themselves that afflicts some of us.[^]

As we excitedly enter the stadium, my mood lightens and I feel hopeful and optimistic. The bouncers look at us in awe. It’s raining, but that doesn’t matter. A cool wind blows on a clear night, the place is alive with suspense and energy. We are all buzzing. Strobe lamps; a smoke-filled stage; bizarre and original props; massive amps and speakers; loads of other technical equipment: we are in for a real treat tonight.[^]

Some people pile forward at the first opportunity, trying to get as close as possible to the great man. Others prefer the back of the stadium, nearer to the various refreshment pit-stops. Quality alcohol at good prices, designed to give you the energy required to fully enjoy the night. The barmen and women serve you with an ever-increasing amount of amusing patter and vigour throughout the night, their moods continually uplifted by the release provided by such meaningful, from-the-heart (and true) music…[^]

We all stand in the massive arena, chatting to those we may never have even seen before but who- through our shared love of Marilyn Mansun- we treat as close friends. Everybody is so friendly, so open. I can hardly contain myself. I’m so nervous. Oh my God, here He comes![^]

M-A-R-I-L-Y-N!!!![^]

He bursts onto the stage, face shockingly white; His tattooed arms clearly visible through his cropped top. Flipping a cigarette casually into the crowd, He grabs the mike and launches straight into His angry set. No messing with Marilyn – you get a blast you’ll never forget.[^]

As the collective energy from the crowd transfers into my soul, I cannot stop myself leaping onto the shoulders of those in front and being transported nearer to the personification of truth. The bouncers won’t mind…[^]

AND THEY BLAME IT ON MARILYN…
From the perspective of the bouncer:

{Negative descriptive writing CONTENTS: Bouncer’s perception of freakish, identikit fans; Scornful perception of Marilyn Mansun as a false idol; Feelings of disdain and pity towards fans – negative description of weather; Description of prosaic props and effects; Damning description of event hospitality; Socially awkward musical community; Fans’ collective exclamation [negative]; Dismissive, mocking description of Marilyn’s entrance and performance; Withering attack on crowd-surfing.}[^]

They disgust me. Look at them all… such freaks. And every one the same as the next. They are nothing; they have no individuality. They’ve got so little about them; not a brain between them! In the absence of personality, they turn to music – their sad little lives must be so boring. It’s pathetic that they can’t amuse themselves at their age; I don’t know what their parents must think. White faces; black garments; ridiculous haircuts; vacant look in their heavily mascara-ed eyes… Marilyn Mansun shouldn’t be allowed to get away with such blatant exploitation.[^]

They queue for hours on end to see their ‘God’. And for what? They shout and scream for a few hours, get hurt in the inevitable ‘moshing’, and maybe get pi**ed! It’s really constructive, isn’t it?! They’re wasting their youth – it’s criminal, really. God only knows what their ‘real’ lives are like, if indeed they ever do venture into the real world. They’re nothing but impressionable teenagers who think they are rebellious because they listen- and sing along with- loud, depressing music. Why do so many kids nowadays hide behind expressionless faces, past troubles? What – are they the only ones who didn’t have it easy growing up? The strength is to come out the other side, not to wallow in self-pity all your life. To turn to Marilyn for guidance is totally illogical… look how fu**ed up he obviously is! Talk about worshipping false idols. ‘Idles’ would be more appropriate: we could all sit about every day, doing drugs and lamenting the past if we wanted. Most of us have- or find- better things to do.[^]

Entering the stadium acting- and looking- like little children at Halloween (their white masks glowing against the dark background), we look at them with a mixture of disdain and pity. It’s absolutely hammering it down – it has been for the last few hours while they’ve been queuing (such ill-spent dedication). Gale-force winds are making it torturous just standing here. There better not be any trouble tonight…[^]

The usual lighting effects; smoke spluttering from the canons on stage; tedious, overused props; oversized amps (just to really disturb the peace and brainwash their confused minds still further) blend in amid cheap-looking equipment; what do these dodgy rebel-wannabes see in it? They await their leader eagerly, so insecure of themselves. Tragic.[^]

Off they go; all but a few fighting each other to the front of the arena, to get closer to their idol and pariah. Others- those who usually drink themselves into oblivion, then have the courage to do something vaguely rebellious- prefer the back of the stadium, nearer to the various, high-priced refreshment pit-stops. Cheap alcohol (most of them are already too drunk or stupid to notice), designed to dehydrate and leave you feeling sick and thirsty in equal measure! Any remaining energy they might have had left from the hours of queuing will be sufficiently sapped in due course by the poor-quality beverages. We can only sympathise with the barmen and women, destined to serve these clones throughout the night. It would be a struggle if the music was half-decent… By the end of the gig, they are usually fit to drop (not to mention, fit to kill Marilyn and his disciples).[^]

They stand huddled uncomfortably close to one another. Usually they are silent, and today is no different. They don’t know the other people, they are not here to socialise – they are here to collectively worship an anomaly of society! Most of them look so frightened (probably because they have never been away from home this long before), it seems they will wet themselves. Oh God, here he comes…[^]

M-A-R-I-L-Y-N!!!![^]

He bursts onto the stage, face unnaturally white, his skinny, tattooed, milk-bottle arms clearly visible through his girlie top. Flipping a cigarette disrespectfully into the crowd, he grabs the mike and launches straight into his angry set. Perhaps he should get some counselling or something…[^]

I brace myself for the inevitable. Some immature little pr**k is bound to get over-excited and try and get closer to the cross-dressing, loud-mouthed pervert. Trying to convert these poor sheep to his disillusioned way of thinking… Oh, bl**dy h*ll, here we go… this crowdsurfer will be made an example to the others – I’ll show you suffering, Marilyn…[^]

COMMENTARY:

{Descriptive writing commentary CONTENTS: Overview; Description one: form, perspective; Use of metaphor; Lexical choices highlighting fans’ positive mentality; Font as representative of fan’s psyche; Syntactical analysis – mood of fan – fan’s use of omission; Description two: form, perspective; Use of contrasting metaphor; Bouncer’s negative lexical choices, use of swear words; Font choice as emblematic of bouncer; Syntax as vehicle for conveying bouncer’s pessimism.}[^]

In this piece of descriptive writing, there are two accounts of the events leading up to a Marilyn Mansun ‘gig’: the queuing; the stadium; the weather; the atmosphere; and the man himself… The first description praises the place and the people, whereas the second account is an example of how a piece of writing can condemn; criticising both the place and the people encountered.[^]

The first description is from the viewpoint of an intelligent Marilyn Mansun fan, and is set out in a chronological diary form (noting down- on paper- his thoughts and feelings on various issues as they would occur). I have used a first-person fan perspective because I thought this would be a good vehicle to use in attempting to highlight the bias in favour of the place/people.[^]

A recurring metaphor is evident throughout the first account: Marilyn Mansun is God. This is shown through, “we are harmless disciples of our God”; setting the scene for the descriptions which follow. Frequent biblical references are made; Marilyn is referred to as “He… His”. The capital ‘H’ symbolises the importance of the role Marilyn Mansun plays in this fan’s life. Marilyn is the leader of this fan by his own admission, “we are harmless disciples of our God- He who tells it as it is. Other people don’t really understand us, but that’s fine”; the fan isn’t ashamed to let this be known.[^]

My choice of lexis has helped to increase the feeling of dependence the fan has on Marilyn; examples of the fan’s view that he is God demonstrate this. The uplift in mood experienced by the fan is shown through use of depressing, siege mentality (us Vs them) type thoughts at the start of the text, “Other people don’t really understand us”, which gradually soften and become happier as the description develops, “I feel hopeful and optimistic”. The feeling of the fan that they are a select, misrepresented group is underlined through the repetition of, “we… we…” A sense that everything is hunky-dory with the fan is demonstrated through, “I feel happy and accepted; at peace with myself and the world at large… The security guards look at us in awe, their moods continually uplifted by the release provided by such meaningful, from-the-heart (and true) music”. The lexis also shows the optimistic light in which the fan sees everything, praising both the people and the place, “Quality alcohol”, “A cool wind blows on a clear night”, “the place is alive with suspense and energy”, “buzzing”, “Everybody is so friendly, so open”… Nothing can go wrong for the fan at the time of writing.[^]

I used a different font (Chiller, size 18) for the Marilyn Mansun fan’s view to fit the psyche of such a person (or how they are portrayed, at least): mad-looking and scribbled (demonstrating their insecure, unstable mentality; everything looks as though it has been written in a hurry, as though scared of something/someone), shaky and different (representing both their physical and mental states), and slightly messed up![^]

With regard to the syntax of the piece, long, meandering sentences mix regularly with short sentences. I’ve employed this form because the longer sentences contain expressions of contentment and fulfilment from the fan (“Standing here, amongst thousands of interesting, real people, I feel happy and accepted; at peace with myself and the world at large”), in stark contrast to the short, aggressive sentences in which the fan often denies, defends or rebukes stereotypical images of Marilyn Mansun fans (“Other people don’t really understand us. That’s fine”). These regular changes in sentence structure highlight the mood swings experienced by the fan, demonstrating once again his unstable personality. Much is achieved by the fan through omitting details that the bouncer picks up on, such as the weather, and looking at everything in a positive light.[^]

The second description, on the other hand, of events, people and places comes from the perspective of a bouncer at the actual gig. Again, I have used a first-person, present tense perspective as the vehicle; this time to transport anti-Marilyn thoughts and feelings. The bouncer appears to have a more realistic grasp of reality, although he has gone in the opposite direction to the fan as regards opinions.[^]

In complete contrast with the first description, the extended metaphor used in his account is that Marilyn Mansun is a false idol: a disillusioned, immature little boy who is trying to poison the minds of impressionable youngsters with his blend of foul-mouthed, depressing music. This anti-Marilyn stance is on show throughout the text, “pariah… worshipping false idols… ‘Idles’… an anomaly of society!”[^]

The lexis used for the bouncer’s view helps underline his feelings of ‘disdain’ and ‘pity’. Comments are consistently made by the bouncer which contrast completely with the view of the fan, “They are nothing; they have no individuality… Marilyn Mansun shouldn’t be allowed to get away with such blatant exploitation… What – are they the only ones who didn’t have it easy growing up?”; the list goes on. His condemnation of everything to do with Marilyn is demonstrated through regular phrases such as, “face unnaturally white, his skinny, tattooed milk-bottle arms clearly visible through his girlie top… Trying to convert these poor sheep to his disillusioned way of thinking”. Even the place is criticised throughout, “cheap-looking equipment”. The mood of the bouncer is pessimistic, moaning- in typically English fashion- about the weather, “It’s absolutely hammering it down – it has been for the last few hours while they’ve been queuing (such ill-spent dedication). Gale-force winds are making it torturous just standing here…”, whereas the fan was omitting details such as the strength of the wind to praise the place and surroundings. The bouncer uses strong swear words to indicate the strength of his feelings of hostility towards the whole Marilyn Mansun scene.[^]

I used the ‘Times New Roman’ font (size 14) for the bouncer, representing the straightforward, rational thinking views of a non-Marilyn fan. The font is also reminiscent of someone who tells it as it is – something also highlighted by his use of profanity; this is someone who has strong views on the theme.[^]

As regards the syntax of the piece, long and short sentences are again regularly interspersed. This contrast is particularly effective, as the short sentences are sometimes only one word long- “Tragic.”– and very emphatic, while the longer, rambling phrases are often punctuated with “…”, as he tries to articulate his belittling put-downs. Through thinking his views through, looking at everything in a pessimistic light, and commenting in detail about the state of the weather/people/place, the bouncer succeeds in effectively putting his stance across.[^]

Copyright 2016-present day sharedsapience.info. Permission to use quotations from this English essay is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to Chris Larham and sharedsapience.info as authorial and website sources, respectively.

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34-year-old father of three wonderful children [William, Seth, and Alyssa]. Works as an Assistant Technical Officer in the Sterile Services Department of Treliske Hospital, Cornwall. Enjoys jogging, web design, being a bit of a geek, and supporting Arsenal FC. Obtained a BA degree in English from the University of Bolton in 2008, and has continued to gain qualifications in a diverse range of subjects thereafter.

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Posted in AS Level English [A1]

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