You know that boring description in the last book you read for school?

No, wait. You didn’t read it. You skipped the description because it was so dull.

It’s time to fix that. Here’s a paragraph from H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Notice the specific and powerful verbs he uses to keep this description of refugees moving along:

There were sad, haggard women tramping by, well dressed, with children that cried and stumbled, their dainty clothes smothered in dust, their weary faces smeared with tears. . . . There were sturdy workmen thrusting their way along, wretched, unkempt men, clothed like clerks or shop-men, struggling spasmodically.

Tramping, stumbled, smothered, smeared, thrusting, and struggling. All powerfully descriptive verbs!

Middle School Writing Prompt -- Do you skip long descriptions in books? Learn how to put some punch into your descriptions and make them interesting in this writing prompt.Wells’ vivid verbs keep this paragraph from being a boring list of refugees. These powerful verbs create an image of movement, pain, heartbreak, and danger.

Now it’s your turn: Copy out that paragraph by Wells and then rewrite it by using its structure. Remove all the adjectives, nouns, and verbs and add your own vivid and specific ones. Instead of folks escaping from London, how about shoppers rushing a store early Friday morning after Thanksgiving or travelers fleeing a train accident?

Your “skeleton” will look something like the sentence below, with all the adjectives, nouns, and verbs take out. Now you’re ready to create your own scene. Here’s the first sentence:

There were ________________, ___________________ ______________
________________________ by, ____________ ________________, with
_____________________ that _________________ and ______________,
their ___________ ______________ ________________ in ___________,
their ________________ _______________ ___________________ with

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Watson

Photo in the public domain from http://www.wpclipart.com/space/solar_system/Mars/War_of_the_Worlds.png.html

Do you have an idea for a writing prompt? Contact Sharon Watson by clicking here.

Teachers, connect with Sharon on Facebook or Pinterest!

The Informer Fall 2014Does the word “outline” send your students into a tailspin? Worry no more! Click here for my latest article in The Informer about an unorthodox method of organizing an essay that really works!

Want daily writing prompts to tempt reluctant writers and delight eager ones? Find out more about Sharon’s daily writing prompts posted on SchoolhouseTeachers.com under “Dailies” or click here.

Get three FREE writing lessons by subscribing to Writing with Sharon Watson! Use the Subscribe form in the column to the right.

the-power-in-your-hands writing-fiction-in-high-school Check out the innovative The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School for your complete high school writing curriculum needs. If you have a storyteller at home, try Writing Fiction [in High School] with hundreds of examples from popular fiction and classical literature.

Jump InGet your middle school student ready for high school with this popular writing curriculum from Writing with Sharon Watson, published by Apologia! Featured in Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, Jump In will prepare and even amuse your students as they learn the fundamentals of effective essay writing and storytelling.