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[Detail] Vue de Quebec, capitale du Canada. 1755.

Literature: Travel Narratives | Writing: Using Anecdotes | Writing: Detail and Imagery as Tools in Descriptive Writing | Art: European Depictions of Native Americans

Writing: Detail and Imagery as Tools in Descriptive Writing

Among the tools of the writer trying to describe a place or event are detail and imagery. Details can appeal to all the reader’s senses, can show the reader something rather than telling. Details contribute to developing an image of what the writer is trying to convey. Colorful, evocative language can also help develop that image. Read historian Francis Parkman’s "Massacre of the Devil’s Hole" from the "Historic Handbook of the Northern Tour" for the imagery in the author’s narrative.

  • What details in Parkman’s account help you build an image of the place where the events occurred? What details help you picture the event?
  • What examples of colorful and evocative language can you find in Parkman’s account? How does this language help you imagine the place and events?
  • In your opinion, what is the role of imagery in conveying a historical episode?
  • Can strong imagery help to convey a particular bias? Use examples of Parkman’s account to support your answer.