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Description of a mysterious place creative writing

A Mysterious Find (Short Story)

I was deep in the woods and the trees were casting a cold shadow on to the ground.

The call of a solitary bird echoed from far away, and I wondered if it was time to turn back for my stroll had turned into something more strenuous than I had planned.

Still, I kept on for I felt something inside of me wanting to push forward. I squeezed through a couple of huddled trees, but then stepped into a tangle of nettles. This distracted my attention for a moment while I freed myself and I kept my balance with one hand firmly placed against the damp bark of a tree.

I then caught sight of a curious-looking structure set a few feet from my location.

Laying in the ground the hands of time had covered it in moss and hidden it away from civilisation. The object looked as though it had not been touched for over a hundred years. Was it an old stone trough or even an ancient grave I thought to myself?

The structure rose a foot from the ground and where it was not covered in moss there were flakes of stone peeling away after years of rain, damp and cold.

I approached, carefully stepping one foot over the other, but the sound of a twig breaking under my foot forced me to freeze. Why it should force me to do this? I cannot say for I was not hiding or in danger, but a sense of fear came over me.

My heart rate had increased and little sounds, such as leaves rustling or the chirp of a bird all became exaggerated and ringing out in my ears as potential threats of danger. A natural fight or flight reaction I assumed.

I gazed into the centre of the structure and could see only leaves and a few rotting branches. Glancing over my shoulder I took a few steps closer.

Most likely a drinking basin for livestock or horses, but still enough for my curiosity to push me to investigate. I put my foot gently on top of the leaves and pressed a little. The rotting organic debris depressed under the weight of my foot, but no trap door or hidden passageway swung open.

I kneeled on the side with one knee and cleared a few small branches and leaves away with my hand. They felt cold, damp and as you would expect. Underneath was earth and disappointment that I had not discovered a great missing artifact.

My heart rate returned to normal and I sat down on one of the cold stone sides to take in the silence…

Then a strange sound, like the wind whipping against a cliff edge, emanated from behind me. Jumping to my feet and turning around, there was a strange swirl enveloping the leaves and the earth inside the shallow walls of the structure.

I took my feet into a stride and just as I made the nearest tree I stopped and turned around.

“Yes, of course,” I said out loud. “How could I forget!”

Memories at this point were flooding back into my mind. The past, the future and the Otherworld.

A hand, old, wrinkled and greyish popped up through a vortex that had formed at the centre of the swirling mess of leaves and earth.

This was followed by an arm and then the bald, boney head of a strange figure. He had grey skin and in places bones showing where there should have been skin. It clambered out of the edifice.

My heart was not racing though and my palms were not sweaty, for I knew exactly who he was.

His name was Graham!

He pulled out an old rolled-up manuscript and sat on one of the stone sides of the structure.

“Ready when you are,” he said.

“Sounding a little rusty, you need some more vitamin D. It would add colour to your cheeks,” I replied. To which he did not respond, but started reading the paper.

“How did it go?” he asked over his shoulder.

“You found here okay?”

“It appears so… Please give me a moment.”

I checked in my backpack and sure enough, it was still there. An old Celtic artifact lost long ago. Stolen from the Otherworld and brought to Earth without permission. My task to retrieve it and then to return.

The vortex and the magic around it had restored my memories to their rightful place. My name is Caratacus, and having been sent here from the Otherworld years ago the memories of my real identity quickly faded. This was a side effect of the transition spell and its casting that sent me here.

Aside from a few notes written on a parchment how would I know to retrieve it or where to return?

I was assured by my elders it would all fall into place. I would have an instinct in me that called me to this place when the time was right. Where the keeper, Graham, would let me in.

“I have friends here you know that I will not see again,” I said.

“I know, and we all knew that is a price you would pay. Anyway, can’t you send them a text goodbye or something? Isn’t that all the rage these days?”

“I could, but texting is a little out of date, I will send a DM instead.”

“Please do, its chilly here.”

“I sent the message, “Tata for now.” and that was it. I was always a bit of an enigma for those few who knew me. Maybe I will meet them again one day in another life. But who knows. For here, for now, my time is done!

For further fictional tales please see the fiction page or for an insightful academic look at the history of ghosts and how they have been used in creative literature to add suspense, story devices and to engage with the reader please see A Concise History of Ghosts and Famous Accounts in Literature

Create a mysterious setting in 8 easy steps

What makes Halloween stories so scary and exciting? It must be a combination of a spine-chilling plot and a powerful build-up to and description of each scene. This blog focuses on how your students can use the mysterious atmosphere of Halloween as inspiration for writing a short text which could also be the beginning of a longer story. We build up the sequence step by step, but you can adapt any of the stages to your own needs and lesson objectives. This lesson can be even more fun if you ask your students to bring in scary music to create a spooky atmosphere.

Create a mysterious setting in 8 easy steps

1. Introduction and visualisation.
  • Ask your students to close their eyes and think of a scary place they have been to or seen in a film/TV series.
2. How does the place make you feel?
  • Now ask your students to describe how they feel. What physical sensations does the place give them? Brainstorm words and phrases and write them on the board for everyone to see and access. Use different colours for adjectives, verbs and nouns.
3. Look at some atmospheric illustrations.

The illustrations above are taken from the following readers. Click on the titles for a larger version of the page from the reader.

    by Martyn Hobbs / Helbling Readers Level 3, CEF A2 by Washington Irving / Helbling Readers Level 4, CEF A2-B1 by Edgar Allan Poe / Helbling Readers Level 5, CEFR B1
  • The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hydeby R. L. Stevenson / Helbling Readers Level 5, CEFR B1
4. Discussion questions

When the students have looked at the images, choose one (either ask them to vote for their favourite or pick one you think is most appropriate for their level) and ask questions like the following. Remember that lower level groups will find it easier to describe and think about what is happening in the picture, higher levels on their emotions/sensations.

  • What does this image make you feel?
  • Where is it set?
  • Focus on the question words: Where? How? When? Who? What?
  • Focus on the senses: What can you see, hear, feel, smell, taste?
  • Compare it to the place you thought of in step 2. How is it similar/different?
  • What happened before/after this picture?
5. Describe the images.

Collect words and phrases (you can use a dictionary) that describe the image. Describe the scene first (what’s going on in the picture?), and then collect nouns to describe the details. Then, talk about the colours, the light and what feelings they give you. For example, colours can be:

  • dark, dull, depressing, violent, gloomy, faint, dim, muted
  • vibrant, vivid, brilliant, bright, glowing, rich
  • clashing, harmonious, contrasting, complementary
6. Read an extract from the story.

Give your students the text that describes the image you are focussing on. As they are reading the text, ask them to underline or circle the words that strongly relate to the scene. Ask them to write sentences with the words.

Take notes about the scenes following this structure:

Extract from Zadie’s Last Race by Martyn Hobbs

  • Environment: ‘the air was cold’, ‘a touch of frost on the parked cars’, ‘yellow streetlamps’
  • Time: ‘a dark autumn evening’, ‘October was coming to an end’
  • Place: ‘on the parked cars’, ‘in their back gardens’, ‘along the pavements under yellow streetlamps’
  • Senses: ‘a touch of frost’, ‘exploding bangers or firing rockets’, ‘the rockets screamed and burst into blue, red, green stars’
7. Vocabulary building

Collect words and phrases that give us information about the setting. You can use the charts below to organize the new vocabulary in class.

  • Download this page with the two charts from below.

a) Make a diagram like the one below and describe the setting. Write nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs in the boxes.

b) Make a mind map with SENSES written in the middle and subgroups with SEE, TOUCH, HEAR, TASTE and SMELL. Collect words to describe these sensations.

8. Writing activity
  • Work alone or in pairs and fill out the same charts for a scary and mysterious scene you have seen in a film or in real life.
  • Write a short paragraph to describe the scene.

Would you like more writing lesson ideas and tips on using illustrations? Check out other posts on this Blog:

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Can someone mark my description (English language paper 1 Q5)

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The question is to write a description of a creepy place. It’s out of 40 – 24 marks for content and organisation and 16 marks for technical accuracy. Could you please mark my work and give me feedback. I think my description sounds too much like a narrative.
My answer:
It was an unusually harsh winters night;the unforgiving wind penetrated through my fur with its icy blade as I was perched on top of the iron gate. The moon glew through the somber clouds; her soothing white light illuminated the gloomy graveyard. The night air was heavy with the dank odur of moss and decomposing leaves.

Although the tall gate was half rusted, it still commanded a sense of regalness. Russet highlights came to life in between the gritty texture of obsidian and perfectly prominently spears that dominated the scene like a noble soldier. Strangely, the sturdy gate didn’t seem to have a latch, nor a lock – forever protecting the graveyard’s secrets.

In the graveyard, towering trees with sprawling limbs guarded the darkness, trying to blot out the moon’s curious rays. Ropes of ivy emerged out of the darkness, twisting around the trees like knotted snakes. A thick fog engulfed the graveyard, turning the graveyard into to its sinister cocoon.The eerie fog cast contorted shadows of the trees, making them move around the graveyard in dramatic patterns.

Abruptly, the wind howled through the iron gate and danced through the graveyard while gracefully twirling the milky fog, creating intricate opal designs.The sour fog reluctantly began to lift, revealing a peculiar figure.

It was a woman.A silk white dress hung loosely on her boney physique; crimson stains were splattered on the canvas like a great art piece.Her eyes were emeralds, glowing with a surreal beauty. She had large bright eyes and yet, why were an ocean of tears gushing down her porcelain face?

Wispy strands of dark velvet hair blew softly like old cob webs while she mournfully looked down at a pitiful grave stone.She was somehow different from the other humans. A dark aura oozed out of her and her pale feet seemed to not touch the ground: what was this being?

? You’ll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.

There are definitely a lot of good things about this. A description should hint at an underlying narrative (don’t narrate though), so this is fine. You use a wide range of punctuation and write well and purposefully (albeit this seems forced at times).

To improve, I suggest that you check your SPaG (there are a few mistakes) and try to substantiate your description (by which I mean that you should try to describe things in relation to one another. This is a sophisticated thing to do because it adds an element of realism to your work and means that you aren’t just arbitrarily adding different people/objects and describing them, but rather that you are working towards something – the aforementioned narrative undertone).

? You’ll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.

(Original post by Bc23)
The question is to write a description of a creepy place. It’s out of 40 – 24 marks for content and organisation and 16 marks for technical accuracy. Could you please mark my work and give me feedback. I think my description sounds too much like a narrative.
My answer:
It was an unusually harsh winters night;the unforgiving wind penetrated through my fur with its icy blade as I was perched on top of the iron gate. The moon glew through the somber clouds; her soothing white light illuminated the gloomy graveyard. The night air was heavy with the dank odur of moss and decomposing leaves.

Although the tall gate was half rusted, it still commanded a sense of regalness. Russet highlights came to life in between the gritty texture of obsidian and perfectly prominently spears that dominated the scene like a noble soldier. Strangely, the sturdy gate didn’t seem to have a latch, nor a lock – forever protecting the graveyard’s secrets.

In the graveyard, towering trees with sprawling limbs guarded the darkness, trying to blot out the moon’s curious rays. Ropes of ivy emerged out of the darkness, twisting around the trees like knotted snakes. A thick fog engulfed the graveyard, turning the graveyard into to its sinister cocoon.The eerie fog cast contorted shadows of the trees, making them move around the graveyard in dramatic patterns.

Abruptly, the wind howled through the iron gate and danced through the graveyard while gracefully twirling the milky fog, creating intricate opal designs.The sour fog reluctantly began to lift, revealing a peculiar figure.

It was a woman.A silk white dress hung loosely on her boney physique; crimson stains were splattered on the canvas like a great art piece.Her eyes were emeralds, glowing with a surreal beauty. She had large bright eyes and yet, why were an ocean of tears gushing down her porcelain face?

Wispy strands of dark velvet hair blew softly like old cob webs while she mournfully looked down at a pitiful grave stone.She was somehow different from the other humans. A dark aura oozed out of her and her pale feet seemed to not touch the ground: what was this being?