Fredric Douglass’ Autobiography was the shortest book I have read so far, but it still was effective in writing and detail. He had a lot of skill as a writer, which you probably wouldn’t expect given his unpleasant past. My assignment today has much to do with how I can be effective when it comes to descriptions in writing. Assignment: “What must I do in my note-taking to describe what is going on around me?”

Well, there are a couple ways of answering this. One way is to improve the description, another is improvement of the notes. Since this seems more note oriented, I will start off with improving notes. So how do I do that? Well, if your taking notes about anything, not just your life, you have to pay attention to every little detail. Even if you have a lot of notes, some details that you overlook could be crucial to the story you’re trying to tell when it comes to autobiographies. One thing Douglass left out, for the safety of others, was his escape, which, in my opinion, should have been included, because it was one of the most important events in his story. While this wasn’t an overlooked event, if you read the book, you can see why leaving things out can effect your autobiography.

Now, I also want to touch on writing effective descriptions. Knowing the facts about an event in your life is important, but so is putting it in words. For example, describing a fair as “fun and awesome” doesn’t tell your reader what it was like being there. As my teacher Gary North has stated, an autobiography reveals the era in which it was written, so make sure yours can depict the important aspects of your life well. I recently went to a fair, so if I were to write about it, I would say: “In the dim, moonlit night, the fairground was lit with the flashing bulbs of various rides and attractions. The whole plot was booming with the sounds of a thousand voices and various musics given off by stands and performers, echoing in the open area.” Already there I gave you two images: the sights and sounds. It really is just as important as the note-taking.

So there you have it. This is what I can do to tell my story better. Much of what I have just done could have, and has been done by Douglass when he wrote his autobiography. This is what I have learned during my time with my English class.


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