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Essay on describing traffic jam



learningtowriteThreads: 32
Posts: 85
Author: Hoa Nguyen
   
Feb 9, 2008, 12:04am   #1
I was supposed to describe a traffic jam, but I got bored and ended up writing this. I don't know how to describe a traffic jam properly, and which point of view to use (should I describe it as a car driver on the road, or is it better to look at it from the point of view of a pedestrian?) I don't think it followed the instructions, but anyway, could you give me some feedback on it and on how I can switch it back to the traffic jam title?

Drumming her slender fingers on the cashier counter, Ashley was unconsciously producing a rhythm, each beat rushing after another, pressing and hastening. Staring at middle-aged cashier with the glamorous Barbie in one hand and a piece of pink wrapping paper in another, she could not help but sighing. She could feel the look of people tired of the long queue burning the back of her neck. She should have just bought the Barbie and wrapped it herself. With a Barbie, a three-year-old girl like Phoebe would not mind Ashley's clumsiness.

Ashley felt in her pockets for her keys, then quickly picked up Phoebe's present and settled it on the backseat. In no time, the car was rocketing on the highway. $100, thirty minutes of wrapping and probably her mother's late arrival were the price of Phoebe's third birthday present- Ashley ran through all those details in her head. It had been a long day. She drove mechanically, imagining the Phoebe's beaming smile while fatigue sluiced through her body like water down rocks.

Ashley had just passed an exit on the highway, when the brake lights of the car ahead hers flared. She slowed, slowed some more, then she had to press down hard. Dusk was already gathering, the sun a dull glow in the overcast sky. As she crested the hill, traffic came to a complete stop, a long ribbon of taillights flashing red and white. An accident. A pileup. She glanced at the gas gauge- the needle pointed at below a quarter of a tank, just enough to return to the suburb, while this line of cars could be here for hours. Ashley felt her eyes burnt; she wanted to cry.

She sat still for a few minutes, glazing outside the car window. The nearest exit was about half a mile back, separated from her by a gleaming chain of cars. She shook her head lightly, and looked at the gift on the backseat. The silvery ribbon stood out from the glossy wrapping paper. She readjusted her body, so that she could feel the satin ribbon, cool and smooth between her fingers. She imagined Phoebe's delicate fingers untying the ribbon and meticulously opening the wrapping paper so that it would not be torn. And her bright eyes when she saw little Miss Barbie! Ashley's face slightly relaxed, a smile lit up her tightened face.

When she turned back to face the steering-wheel, she started to feel uneasy. Her mind drifted away from the traffic jam and came to Phoebe. 'Is she sitting by the window, looking down to spot her mother's black car in the thousands of cars passing by their condominium?' 'Has her party begun or is she still waiting for her mother?' Ashley wondered, and ended up blaming herself for being a bad mother.

No matter what, she would not miss Phoebe's party. After taking a deep breath, she snagged her teeth on her bottom lip and let an instinctive impulse took over. Ashley jerked the steering-wheel, slid off the lane and onto the soft gravel shoulder. She put the car in reverse and then backed up, travelling past the stilled traffic, like a frozen river.

She reached the exit safely, then made a turn and rocketed through the softening darkness. Phoebe was waiting.



EF_Team2Threads: 1
Posts: 2,195
Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Feb 9, 2008, 01:09am   #2
Greetings!

Wow, you are an excellent writer! You have written a short story which contains a traffic jam, rather than an essay which describes a traffic jam, but if I were your professor, I would be pleased to read it because it's so well-written! :-)

I hate to tell you to change anything because it's such a good story; however, if you're afraid that you won't receive high marks because you didn't follow the instructions, you could try putting in more descriptive detail about the traffic jam itself. What you have is good, but you could expand on it.

Here are a few editing tips for what you have so far:

Staring at the middle-aged cashier with the glamorous Barbie in one hand and a piece of pink wrapping paper in another, she could not help but sigh.

$100,- Do not start a sentence with a number; say "One hundred dollars"

imagining [delete the] Phoebe's beaming smile

Ashley felt her eyes burn;

She sat still for a few minutes, gazing outside the car window.

opening the wrapping paper so that it would not be torn--and her bright eyes when she saw little Miss Barbie! Ashley's face relaxed slightly; a smile lit up her tightened features.

she snagged her teeth on her bottom lip and let an instinctive impulse take over.

I hope your instructor likes it as much as I do! :-)

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


learningtowriteThreads: 32
Posts: 85
Author: Hoa Nguyen
   
Feb 9, 2008, 06:48pm   #3
Thanks a lot for the feedback.

For this sentence: "She sat still for a few minutes, gazing outside the car window." I used glazing to show that Ashley was actually staring into nowhere, with no purpose, so does gazing change its role in the sentence?

I was thinking to write more about the neighboring cars, like how the people inside got angry with the jam, and probably I want to include something about a toddler in other cars so as to remind Ashley of Phoebe waiting. It can make more sense to the story I guess, but not so much for the traffic jam. I'm kinda stuck here. Can you tell me which areas should I look into to expand this piece on traffic jam? Thanks so much!


EF_Team2Threads: 1
Posts: 2,195
Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Feb 10, 2008, 01:41am   #4
Greetings!

I understand what you are saying about "glazing" but that is not a proper use of the word in that context. You would need to say "her eyes glazing over as she looked through the car window." Gazing is more neutral, it's true; she could be gazing in any number of ways. However, it fits here and "glazing" does not. To be "glazing" means to be applying glaze to something. ;=)

To expand on the traffic jam, just use more of your excellent description, as you did with "a long ribbon of taillights flashing red and white." You could go on to describe the cars in more detail, their colors, their smells, the noises they made, and so forth. Picture in your mind's eye what the traffic jam would look, smell, sound, feel and even taste like, then add in some of that description; paint a picture of it with your words.

I hope this helps!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


learningtowriteThreads: 32
Posts: 85
Author: Hoa Nguyen
   
Feb 10, 2008, 05:53am   #5
Hello, this is the part I added. It should be after the third paragraph in my original work. Please give me some advice! Thanks.

The stuffy air in the car started to make she crinkle her nose. Her car could barely crawl for the last ten minutes. Anxious, she got out of the car, her mouth half-opened, gaping for air. She stood on tiptoe and craned, only to be disappointed by the long chain of cars, hissing in their fixed positions, waiting for their turn to escape. Ashley could feel the heat from all the cars around her rising up, shimmering faintly in the dusk, melting a few flakes of snow that had begun to fall. To her left, in the silver Mercedes, there was a woman in a fur coat, her head resting on her hand. She turned around and glanced down the hill, where another group of cars just joined the queue. Behind her was a cheap red Toyota, its driver in a denim jacket smoking cigarettes. In a shiny Volvo nearby, the kids in the backseat were making faces. She was not the only one irritated by the pileup, after all. The air was cold and redolent with the scent of gas, making her light-headed. Her eyes on the line of cars, her hands groped for the door of her car.


EF_Team2Threads: 1
Posts: 2,195
Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Feb 10, 2008, 04:24pm   #6
Greetings!

You've added some excellent description! It really draws the reader into your story--I can almost smell the fumes myself! :-)

It's very good as is, but here are some minor suggestions to make it even better:

To her left, in the silver Mercedes, there was a woman in a fur coat, her head resting on her hand. Ashley turned around and glanced down the hill, where another group of cars had just joined the queue. Behind her was a cheap, red Toyota, its driver in a denim jacket, smoking cigarettes.

The air was cold and redolent with the scent of gas, making her light-headed. Her eyes on the line of vehicles, Ashley's hand groped for the door of her car.

Excellent work!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


learningtowriteThreads: 32
Posts: 85
Author: Hoa Nguyen
   
Feb 11, 2008, 01:22am   #7
Thank you very much for editing my work. It sounds much much more interesting after I take your advice!


EF_Team2Threads: 1
Posts: 2,195
Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Feb 11, 2008, 02:14am   #8
It was very interesting and engaging to begin with, believe me! :-) And you're very welcome!

Sarah




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