deserted island

Deserted Island: Nightmare or Dream Come True?

The idea of being washed ashore on a strange or deserted island is one of the most popular ideas in literature and pop culture. Think about how many well-known stories involve this idea: Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, The Tempest, Lord of the Flies, Swiss Family Robinson, The Cay and countless TV and film contributions like Lost, Gilligan’s Island and Castaway.

Obviously, the idea isn’t original, but what’s interesting is the different approaches each of these stories takes. Your task is to write a brief description of a mysterious island from your own perspective. Your island can be either a wonderful dream come true or a disastrous nightmare. It's up to you. 

Follow these steps: 

  1. Imagine being stranded on a deserted island paradise. What you discover is a dream come true. Brainstorm words and images that appeal to the five senses. Create a list with words that describe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. 
  2. Now imagine the same experience as a complete nightmare. Do the same brainstorming exercise but with this very different perspective.
  3. Look through your two lists and circle the words and images that you think are the most interesting, original and vivid.
  4. Using these words and images, write a description of one of these islands—you decide which one.

Remember, you are not telling a story. This is a descriptive assignment, not a narrative. It's okay to include some action--things and people can move and act in a description. Just be sure that your main purpose is to communicate the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the island, not to tell a story. Paint the picture for your reader. Be sure to include specific details that will make the island come alive.

Suggested Length: One to three pages. 

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