Descriptive Writing

The 15-Sentence Portrait, developed by Wendy Bishop, is a guided writing exercise. Each of the 15 sentences in the writing assignment has an instruction on what to include in that sentence. It could be a color, a wish, a body part, a specific number of words, etc.

The 15 Sentence Portrait generates descriptive writing. It is purposefully guided. Some instructions include:

1. Picture in your mind a person you have strong feelings for. The subject may not be a "love" interest, but should be someone you feel strongly about. The person can be living or dead but should be someone you know or knew rather than a famous character.
2. For a title, choose an emotion or a color that represents this person to you. You will not mention the individual’s name in the writing.
3. For a first-line starter, choose one of the following and complete the sentence:

o You stand there . . .
o No one is here . . .
o In this (memory, photograph, dream, etc.), you are . . .
o I think sometimes . . .
o The face is . . .
o We had been . . .

4. Following the first sentence, build a portrait of this individual, writing the sentences according
to these directions:

1. Sentence 2: Write a sentence with a color in it.
2. Sentence 3: Write a sentence with a part of the body in it.
3. Sentence 4: Write a sentence with a simile (a comparison using like or as).
4. Sentence 5: Write a sentence of over 25 words.
5. Sentence 6: Write a sentence under 8 words.
6. Sentence 7: Write a sentence with a piece of clothing in it.
7. Sentence 8: Write a sentence with a wish in it.
8. Sentence 9: Write a sentence with an animal in it.
9. Sentence 10: Write a sentence in which three or more words alliterate; that is, they begin with the same initial consonant: she has be left, lately, with less and less time to think . . .
10. Sentence 11: Write a sentence with two commas.
11. Sentence 12: Write a sentence with a smell and a color in it.
12. Sentence 13: Write a sentence with a simile (a comparison using like or as).
13. Sentence 14: Write a sentence that could carry an exclamation point (but do not use the exclamation point).
14. Sentence 15: Write a sentence to end this portrait that uses the word or words you chose for a title.

by Barbara Bray


From the Blog View from Room 125: 15 Sentence Step-by-Step Instructions