English Composition: Observation of Actions

Many of our most interesting experiences arise from observing the actions of others.

A written description of what we have observed will gain in interest to the reader, if, in addition to telling what was done, it gives some indication of how was done.

A list of tools a carpenter uses, and the operations he performs during the half hour we watch him, may be dull and uninteresting; but our description may have an added value if it shows his manner of working so that the reader can determine whether the carpenter is an orderly, methodical, and rapid worker or a mere putterer who is careless, haphazard and slow.

Two persons will perform similar actions in very different ways.

Our description should be so worded as to show what the differences are.

Theme III. Write a Theme Relating Actions

Write a theme relating actions based on one of the suggested topics:

  1. A mason, carpenter, painter or other mechanic at work.
  2. How my neighbor mows his lawn.
  3. What a man does when his automobile breaks down.
  4. Describe the actions of a cat, dog, rabbit, squirrel or other animal.
  5. Watch a man operating a shop or booth for a half-hour and report what he did.


  1. Have you told exactly what was done?
  2. Can you by the choice of suitable words show more clearly the way in which it was done?
  3. Does this theme need to have an introduction? Why or why not?
  4. Does this theme need to have a point? Why or why not?
  5. Does this theme need to have a conclusion? Why or why not?

Source: Brooks, Composition Rhetoric.

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