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2 pages/≈550 words
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Literature & Language
English (U.S.)
MS Word
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The Best Place for a Summer Vacation (Essay Sample)


Good writing incorporates sensory details (words that evoke the five senses). Your task is to write a 2-page descriptive essay about one especially vivid experience from your past. It will be important to focus your experience narrowly (one afternoon, one aspect of a trip, one event that takes place in a short period of time). Paint your descriptive narrative with images and give it sounds (some dialogue snippets?), textures, tastes, and scents to make it “come to life.”
Make sure your narrative is focused and stated in a 1-2 sentence thesis statement (a dominant impression for a descriptive essay) near the bottom of your introductory paragraph; since this is a personal narrative essay and not a research paper, write it in first person with the personal (I) pronoun. This essay is worth 100 points (your grade can change with revision). Late papers will be reduced by 5 points (see syllabus).
• Begin with a prewrite (this is required) and then write a multi-paragraph narrative describing a memorable experience from your past; choose an experience that has meaning to you and convey the significance of it in your introduction as well as your supporting details; make sure you focus your experience narrowly
• Focus your ideas with a thesis (a dominant impression of your experience) in a funnel-style introduction 
• Guide readers with effective topic sentences and specific supporting points about different aspects of your experience or organize chronologically (each body paragraph should have only one focus—one main idea)
• Organize your ideas coherently (the order of your paragraphs should be logical)
• Incorporate several sensory details (words that evoke sight, sound, taste, touch, smell); include both showing and telling of your experience.
• Provide transitions between paragraphs so the narrative flows well
• Create a narrative that readers will remember 
• Type your essay MLA-style (Times New Roman, 12 point font, double-spaced—see example on syllabus) on a Microsoft Word doc
I may need to see all parts of the writing process including your prewrite.
• Use dialogue—quoted bits of conversation that help you make a scene more vivid and engaging for readers.  Paraphrase (a kind of telling) reports what someone said: my teacher said that she liked my paper.  Quotation (a kind of showing) provides the actual words: My teacher said to me, “Sasha, you really illustrated your experience with vivid descriptions of the flying shrimp!”
• Use several sensory details (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) to make the essay more descriptive and to create a stronger sense of a moment.
• Show, don’t tell.  Do not merely tell us about your experiences; show your readers what happened to you.  Again, use all your senses to re-create an event/scene so we as readers feel like we are there with you. 

The Best Place For a Summer Vacation
From high up in the air, I could see this was a metropolis, complete with traffic jams, tall buildings and a million people. As soon as the pilot called his crew to prepare for landing, I felt my stomach knot in anticipation. I was nauseous with excitement - what will I discover in this land?
I knew the culture here was really different, but nothing prepared me for the experience I will have, which began as soon as we deplaned. I disembarked the plane and was faced with the million people all talking at the same time. Here was a lady wearing a white blouse over denim pants, currently talking on the phone reporting her arrival. Behind her were an elderly couple, one a timid lady, her eyes sparkling with happiness, the other, her husband carrying their baggage with sturdy arms, possibly a result of years doing manual labor. Beside me was a mother with a six-month old baby, her face red from crying her heart out; behind me are the other passengers of the plane, all bent on being the first to get to the arrival bay. The scene was even worse outside of the airport. Dilapidated public transport plied the roads, the roads littered with mud and garbage, the train station full to the brim with people. My head was reeling from all the noise; my leg ached, my body sore. I was beginning to see why Dan Brown called this place as "the gates of hell". I had to stay here in Manila for a week while I thought about where to go next.
Needless to say, I had a daily encounter with the million people in the city, and I was beginning to lose my patience. I was in one of the local parks and was starting to become overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of the city. Anger was starting to build up, and I was beginning to chastise myself for choosing to go to the Philippines when I could go in Europe. Just as my anger was about to blow to the surface, I was interrupted by a wonderful smell wafting in the air. It was both sweet and bitter; it made my mouth water, and my scowl transformed into an upturned smile. It held on to me, like a tendril of a vine, making its way to my brain, removing all thoughts of pain and irritation, replacing it with happy memories of the past and the future. "Perhaps this is how heaven smells like". I let my nose lead me to the heavenly smell and discover a small cart by the fountain. The vendor wore a simple white shirt and knee-length denim. On his head was a straw hat that protected him from the heat. He was busy creating a batch of what the locals called "batirol" which refers to the swishing action used to bring out the foam in the concoctions. It looked a lot like our very own cappuccino, except that batirol was made of pure cacao, butter, coco sugar and a bit of milk. It was this batirol that brought me to the southern part of the country. I left the very next day, and headed for Davao, where the best cacao were produced.
As soon as I arrived in Davao, I knew something was different here. The arrival bay was jam packed with people, but there was a kind of silence lulling me to relax - my shoulders turned down, my lungs longed to take in the fresh air. I took one deep breath and the air making its way to my lungs, and then down ...
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