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How to Write a Descriptive Essay

June 14, 2018 Types of essays
How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Have you ever started a book only to find yourself halfway through it? Writers like Stephen King, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allen Poe are notorious for painting vivid pictures with a thousand words, sucking their readers into the story. Wouldn’t it be crazy to think that your favorite novel used a simple descriptive writing technique to lure you in?

Professional writers are meticulous in detail, providing the reader with vivid and relatable scenarios. Before they know it, the reader is the main hero and the world’s future depends on them. If you’ve been there, then you have witnessed the power of descriptive writing.

So what is a descriptive essay and how does it fit into all of this?


Table Of Contents

Descriptive Essay Definition

A descriptive essay is a type of writing in which you describe a thing, event, process or person. The main goal of this type of essay is to create a vivid experience for the reader and give them a more in-depth understanding of the essay’s subject. Normally, most readers receive the most effective representation of something through the use of their senses! Taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight are the 5 ways that the human brain receives information. When it comes to giving the best possible description of something, it is incredibly important to appeal towards all 5 senses.

When a writer is asked to create a descriptive essay, the options that they have to choose from are descriptions of:

  • Person
  • Place
  • Memory
  • Experience
  • Object

Think of this process as just an artist doing his job. The goal for him or her is to paint an overall, all-inclusive picture for the reader to give them a well-rounded impression of what you (the artist) were trying to convey!

Last but not least, the entire story is supposed to deliver some kind of purpose. Whether it is a lesson you learned from an experience, or how a certain object impacted your life, make sure to include a specific purpose for writing the descriptive essay!

Which One to Choose

Choose a person to describe

One idea for a topic is to describe a person that you know. This could be one of your family members such as your mother or father. It could also be your best friend, a colleague, school teacher or professor. Choose a person that you know well; doing this gives you a lot to write about. Because of this, you will not deal with the lack of content, giving you peace of mind while creating your eloquent masterpiece!

  • It is ok to choose a fictional person to write about. You could write about a character from your favorite movie, TV show or video game.

Place or Object to describe

Another thing you can describe is a specific place or object that you have strong feelings about. This could be a place like your high school, workplace, or childhood home.

  • Feel free to write about defunct place or object, such as the fantastical place from your favorite book or the magic wand from your favorite movie.

Select an emotion to describe

Try to remember your most sincere and longest lasting emotion and turn it into a beautiful piece of art in the form of an essay. You may choose a strong emotion like anger, happiness, loss, desire, or rage.

  • You could also choose a more specific emotion, such as brotherly love or self-hatred. Talking about these emotions will probably make your essay more thrilling.

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Sample Topics

  • Person
  • Describe the traits that make for a perfect role model.
  • Describe what separates your best friend from regular acquaintances.
  • Describe the average human to an alien who has never before seen a person.
  • Place
  • Describe a place you have dreamed about that doesn’t exist in real life.
  • What would be the ideal place to plan an event of your choice.
  • Paint a picture with words of the most beautiful sight you have ever seen!
  • Memory
  • Which event brought about your favorite memory, and how did the setting impact it?
  • What is one of the most common memories that you think about it, and what made it so iconic?
  • What particular aspects separate regular events from unique memories in your life?
  • Experience
  • Describe that moment in your life where you zoned out of a certain social setting and took a moment to appreciate life.
  • Describe a moment in your life where you either led a crowd or did something completely out of your comfort zone!
  • Describe a day in your life that took a complete 180-degree turn, and explain how you dealt with it.
  • Object
  • Talk about an item that holds sentimental value to you, and how that came about.
  • Describe something that you would bury in a time capsule to tell people about what life is like today.
  • The commoners are accusing you of witchcraft, so you must describe technology to people from the dark ages to save your life.

Note: It is very common in descriptive writing to "combine the senses". For example, there can be scenarios where a certain object brought about a memorable experience. Another example would be when a social interaction with a person created an unforgettable memory! Not only is mixing senses acceptable, it can make for some of the most vivid stories in an individual's life.

Creating the Thesis

In this type of writing, a thesis statement serves as a guide for the rest of the essay. It represents a concise but fulfilling description of the term. It should appear in the introduction and must be restated in the conclusion.

Outline

When thinking how to write a descriptive essay, remember that a structured paper outline is your golden ticket. Not only does it help you organize thoughts, but it will also help your essays flow better!

A descriptive essay outline is composed of the following: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Prior to writing, you have to know the topic of your essay! Hopefully, you spent enough time considering the victim of description, because all of your illustrations will be based around it!

Introduction

  • Hook Sentence: Although the entire essay should be full of interesting and vivid descriptions, grabbing the reader's attention from the very beginning is ideal!
  • The "event" that you are writing about. Introduce it to the reader without giving away anything too juicy!
  • Brief background/backup information! Get the reader interested with more information about the event. However, keep your wording discrete. You definitely do not want to lose the readers attention before getting to the actual story!
  • Sensory Details: Remember those 5 senses we were talking about? Well, now it is time to show your audience those stellar implementation skills! Descriptive language is the key to writing a spicy essay, so get all those senses in there!

Body Paragraph(s)

Depending on the length of the story, this sections length will definitely vary. Sometimes a story can be told in a few sentences, and other times it takes entire pages!

  • Start from an Exciting Point: Put the story in movement by starting up with a sentence that kicks things off in 3rd gear! It should not be a slow and boring introduction to the story: get your reader on the rails!

  • Sensory details within Plot Development: As said before, anyone can tell a story, but not everybody can do it well. As you are progressing through the story, keep track of sensory appeal. All of your sentences should not use 1 or 2 sensory parts. Make sure to use as many as possible!

  • Include factual details: An effective way to avoid "empty sentences" is to add factual details. For example, if you are describing a certain person, give some semi-relevant background information about them. This allows you to keep the readers thinking because they will make inferences about the character based on this extra information.

  • Knock your Audience over with a Bang: It is a well-known fact that people's attention starts at a high point, gradually decreases, but comes back sky-high with the finale! The audience will always stay curious about the unknown ending! So when you come to the last point of your story, spend a little more time with it and make it sound as tasty as possible! SENSORY DETAILS!

Conclusion

  • Reflection is Key: Give a respectable purpose for the entire story. Yes, reading descriptive language is all fine and dandy, but your audience wants to know why you just spent so much time describing this thing! Obviously, this thing or experience affected your life in some way or another. Spill the beans!

  • Signify the Importance of the Details: Besides keeping your reader's interest, explain the significance of some key moments. Consider the fact that if any one of those details were slightly different, you might not have had this topic for your essay, because it could have lessened its impact!

  • Clincher Statement: You probably spent a lot of time thinking of a hook to pull the audience in! Do NOT allow the essay to escape their thoughts right after they finish reading it. The essay should end with a clincher, a final sentence that reinforces an overall purpose or leaves your audience with an intriguing thought, question or quotation.

Clincher Statement

Keep The Writing Eloquent

Read what you have written out loud

As soon as you have finished writing a draft, read it out loud. Try to notice any clumsy or unclear sentences. Underline these sentences, so that you can get back to them later. You can also read your essay to other people to get their feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask them if there are any unclear or obscure sentences. The more voices that can confirm the high quality of your writing, the better. Furthermore, you can ask an online writing service to proofread your essay.

Polish It All Up

Go through the essay one more time and remove any sentences that seem to be unnecessary. Replace weak adjectives with more fitting ones. Review and confirm that the description of the subject is clear and easy to follow.

General Tips and Advice

  • Keep your Description Chronological: Avoid backtracking or fast forwarding. Unless the description has some stale moments, keep things moving in a linear progression.

  • Get Some Peer Editing: Though the description may sound fantastic in your eyes, others might read it and completely lose touch with the scenario. Everyone's brain works slightly differently, so get some second impressions to strengthen the validity of your descriptive language!

Some Good Examples

Descriptive Essay Example

Descriptive Essay Example

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

As the article articulates very well, my advice when writing descriptive essays is always to show and not tell. In order to captivate the reader, describing an event with sensory details is very important. This will come in handy in any creative writing that you do or on your application essays. When experimenting with describing imagery, make sure to avoid doing two things: focusing on too many details at once and using too many adjectives and adverbs. If you are describing actions, then adverbs are your worst enemy. Attempt to replace them whenever you write anything creative or descriptive. Besides, when you write descriptively make sure to pick out details that are very important to the story to focus the reader’s attention on particular points. For example, if you are writing a descriptive essay about your camping trip, you would probably be describing the trip as opposed to the sky or the birds. Best of luck writing your descriptive essay and remember: show, not tell!

Professor Isabella, from EssayPro

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