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Use Elaboration Strategies

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    You've written your presentation draft and had a day or two to let it "sit." Take some time to review your draft to see how well you developed your ideas using elaboration strategies. The difference between a good presentation and a captivating presentation is often the judicious use of elaboration strategies.

    ELABORATION means giving more substance and detail in your writing. Depending on the type of writing, you can use specific techniques to develop your writing.

    For persuasive writing, check out the strategies linked here.  

    For personal narrative and fictional writing, review the techniques below and check your draft. Make some revisions to that draft using these techniques.


    Adapted from these sources:


    Describe a Place in Detail

    Review your writing and look for any mention of a place.  By describing that location in more detail, you enable your readers to feel like they were actually there in the experience you’re describing.

    Use Specific Words to Paint Pictures

    Look at the difference between these sentences:

    I went to the mailbox.

    I ran to the mailbox.

    I staggered to the mailbox.

    I plodded to the mailbox.

    Which sentences are more engaging to you?  By using vivid verbs, concrete and specific nouns, and crisp adjectives, you can enhance the appeal of your writing.  Pull out that thesaurus and replace the tired, overused words with the perfect description that helps your reader visualize the content.

    Here’s another example of the difference:

    DRAFT:  The first one I really enjoy is the chocolate chip cookie.  I especially like them when they’re warm and soft. I like the way the chocolate just melts in your mouth.  I also love the flavor of a warm chocolate chip cookie right when you bite into it. It’s like being in heaven.

    REVISION:  A juicy chip, soft, creamy butter, a crunchy nut combine to make a delicious cookie.  The soft, brown cookie melts in my mouth, then a chip melts in my mouth and it’s like being in heaven.  I know it, my brother knows it – biting into one of mom’s freshly baked chocolate chip cookies is like your own paradise even on a cold day.  (

    Show How Something Feels, Smells, Tastes, Sounds or Looks

    Sensory information in particular helps to paint that picture.  Describe what a person, place, object, etc. look like, sound like, smell like, feeling like, and taste like. This helps you readers to feel like they were there.

    Compare Two Different Things and Use Figurative Language (similes, metaphors, alliteration, hyperbole, etc.)

    Using similes and metaphors helps readers draw connections what you present and the knowledge and experiences they bring to your writing.  Keep them engaged through these types of analogies. Figurative language in general helps keep the language interesting.

    Use the Exact Thoughts or Words from a Person

    Try using quotations from famous people to add appeal, or add in bits of conversation and the thoughts of the people in your writing. This helps readers to feel like they were really there or really in your shoes.

    Describe How Someone or Something Moves or Acts

    Adverbs may come to your mind first, but in order to help readers picture the action that drives your story, focus on using very specific verbs.  Saying “she cried hard all night” (using the adverb hard) isn’t quite as compelling as “She sobbed all night.”  Remember the maxim “show, don’t tell” to make writing stronger.

    Show Someone’s Feelings Through What He Does

    Show, don’t tell.    Here’s an example:

    “Instead of writing, ‘She was depressed,’… show those feelings to … readers by writing about the character’s actions:   ‘She grabbed the last tissue from the box and dabbed her eyes. She threw it on the floor with the others. She did not change out of her pajamas all day, and she sat in front of the television not even changing the channel though she had no interest in the program that was on.’” (