Prewriting Exercise One: Memory and Description

Generally speaking, writers need to generate material before they actually try to write the final draft of a paper. In fact, most writers revise their work over and over again, gradually bringing the work into line with what they want.

This prewriting exercise is meant to help you start writing detailed descriptions. The subject you choose for this exercise does not need to be the same one that you will eventually revise into a final draft. For this exercise, you are asked to use your memory to draw back a living picture of a familiar place.

Open a word processing package, and then copy and paste to a new word processing file the instructions from here down to the bottom of the page. Put your name at the top of that new document.

Choose a place that you are familiar with, preferably one that you remember from five or ten years ago; perhaps the best for this exercise is the house you grew up in. Take a little time to take a tour through that place. If it helps, close your eyes. As the pictures appear in your imagination, type in detailed descriptions of them, using complete sentences.

  1. Approach the front door. What do you see? What do you hear?
  2. Open the door and walk in. What is in front of you? What is to your right? Your left? What are the textures and the colors of these things?
  3. Decide on a sequence you will follow and then, in your imagination, walk into the next room. Describe what you see, hear, feel, smell. If there are associations with this room, mention one.
  4. Move on to the next room and do the same thing. Continue this process until you have described the whole house or until time for the exercise is called.