How To Write A Descriptive Essay On A Person: Step By Step

how to write a descriptive essay on a person

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  • March 1, 2024
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Descriptive essays are like painting a vivid picture with words. They allow us to delve deep into the essence of someone or something, capturing every detail, emotion, and nuance. When it comes to writing a descriptive essay on a person, it’s all about bringing that individual to life on the page. In this guide, we’ll explore step-by-step how to write a descriptive essay on a person, from choosing the right person to polishing your final draft.

Table of Contents

How Do You Start A Descriptive Essay?

Starting a descriptive essay requires setting the scene and grabbing the reader’s attention. Here are some effective ways to begin:

  • Start with a vivid description: Paint a picture with words by describing the setting, person, or object you’ll be focusing on. Use sensory details to immerse the reader in the scene.
  • Use an engaging anecdote: Begin with a short story or anecdote related to your subject. This can draw readers in and make them curious to learn more.
  • Pose a rhetorical question: Start with a thought-provoking question that relates to your topic. This can pique the reader’s curiosity and encourage them to keep reading for the answer.
  • Invoke the senses: Appeal to the reader’s senses by describing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. This creates a vivid experience for the reader and sets the tone for your essay.
  • Provide a brief background: Offer a brief introduction to your subject, providing context for the description that follows. This helps orient the reader and gives them a sense of what to expect.

Ultimately, the goal is to engage the reader from the very beginning and create a strong foundation for your descriptive essay.

How To Write A Descriptive Essay On A Person?

Pre-writing phase.

Before diving into writing, it’s essential to do some groundwork.

  • Selecting Your Subject: Choose a person who holds significance for you. It could be a family member, friend, mentor, or even a historical figure you admire.
  • Brainstorming Traits: Think about the qualities and characteristics that define this person. Jot down specific details, memories, and anecdotes that come to mind.
  • Gathering Memories: Reflect on your experiences with this person. Recall moments that stand out, whether they’re funny, heartwarming, or profound.
  • Determining Tone: Consider the tone and perspective you want to convey in your essay. Will it be nostalgic, admiring, or reflective?

Creating an Outline

A well-structured outline provides a roadmap for your essay, ensuring that you cover all essential aspects.

  • Introduction: Set the stage by introducing the person you’ll be describing and stating the purpose of your essay. Your thesis statement should give readers a glimpse of what to expect.
  • Body Paragraphs: Organize your essay into paragraphs focusing on different aspects of the person’s character.
  • Physical Description: Paint a vivid picture of their appearance, from their physical features to their style of dress and unique mannerisms.
  • Personality Traits: Dive into their personality, exploring their quirks, habits, values, and passions.
  • Impact on Others: Highlight the person’s relationships and influence on those around them, including anecdotes that showcase their impact.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the key traits discussed in the essay and reflect on their significance. Leave readers with a lasting impression.

Drafting the Essay

With your outline in hand, it’s time to start writing.

  • Introduction: Begin with an attention-grabbing opening that draws readers in. Introduce the person and provide context for why they are important to you.
  • Body Paragraphs: Develop each section with descriptive details and vivid imagery. Use sensory language to evoke emotions and create a sense of intimacy.
  • Conclusion: Reinforce the central theme of your essay and leave readers with a thought-provoking insight or reflection.

Revision and Editing

Once you’ve completed your first draft, it’s time to polish your essay.

  • Review for Clarity: Ensure that your essay flows smoothly from one paragraph to the next, with clear transitions between ideas.
  • Check for Errors: Proofread your essay for grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. Pay attention to sentence structure and word choice.
  • Seek Feedback: Share your essay with friends, family, or peers for feedback. Consider their suggestions for improvement and make revisions accordingly.

Finalizing the Essay

Before submitting your essay, take one last look to ensure it’s polished and ready to shine.

  • Formatting: Format your essay according to the guidelines provided, including font size, spacing, and margins.
  • Proofread Again: Give your essay a final proofread to catch any lingering errors or typos.
  • Submission: Once you’re satisfied with your essay, submit it with confidence, knowing that you’ve crafted a compelling portrayal of the person who holds significance in your life.

Top 3 Examples of Descriptive Essays About a Person

“my grandmother: a portrait of strength and love”.

In this essay, the author paints a vivid picture of their grandmother, emphasizing her physical appearance as well as her inner strength and loving nature.

Through detailed descriptions of her wrinkled hands, warm smile, and comforting presence, the author captures the essence of their grandmother’s character.

Anecdotes and memories illustrate her resilience and the profound impact she has had on the author’s life, making her a cherished figure to be admired and celebrated.

“The Man Who Built Bridges: A Tribute to My Father”

This essay pays tribute to the author’s father, highlighting his remarkable qualities as a bridge builder both literally and metaphorically.

Through evocative descriptions of his weathered hands, steadfast determination, and unwavering kindness, the author portrays their father as a symbol of resilience, integrity, and compassion.

Anecdotes from the author’s childhood underscore the profound influence their father has had, leaving a lasting legacy of love and strength.

“The Artist of Words: An Ode to Maya Angelou”

In this essay, the author celebrates the life and legacy of Maya Angelou, the renowned poet, author, and civil rights activist.

Through vivid descriptions of Angelou’s commanding presence, eloquent speech, and unwavering courage, the author captures the essence of her indomitable spirit and profound impact on literature and society.

Quotes and excerpts from Angelou’s works illustrate her mastery of language and her ability to inspire and empower others, leaving an enduring legacy of hope and resilience.

Tips To  Write A Descriptive Essay On A Person

Writing a descriptive essay about a person requires attention to detail and a focus on capturing the essence of the individual. Here are some tips to help you craft a compelling descriptive essay:

  • Choose a Subject You Know Well: Select a person whom you know intimately or have spent significant time with. This familiarity will allow you to provide rich descriptions and insights into their character.
  • Brainstorm Descriptive Details: Before you start writing, make a list of physical attributes, personality traits, habits, and mannerisms that characterize the person. Think about specific anecdotes or memories that showcase their unique qualities.
  • Create an Outline: Organize your essay with a clear structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Decide on the main traits or characteristics you will focus on in each section.
  • Start with an Engaging Introduction: Grab the reader’s attention from the start with a compelling opening sentence or anecdote that sets the scene and introduces the person you will be describing.
  • Use Vivid Descriptive Language: Paint a vivid picture with words by using sensory details to describe the person’s appearance, movements, facial expressions, and gestures. Appeal to the reader’s senses to create a vivid and immersive experience.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: Instead of simply stating facts about the person, show their personality and character through descriptive scenes, dialogue, and actions. Use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points.
  • Focus on Emotions and Impressions: Describe not only what the person looks like but also how they make you feel and the impression they leave on others. Capture the emotions and atmosphere surrounding your interactions with them.
  • Be Objective and Honest: While it’s important to highlight the person’s positive qualities, don’t shy away from portraying their flaws or weaknesses if they are relevant to the essay. Be honest and objective in your descriptions.
  • Organize Your Thoughts: Structure your essay logically, moving from one characteristic or trait to the next in a coherent manner. Use transitions to guide the reader smoothly through your descriptions.
  • Conclude with a Reflection: Summarize the key points of your essay in the conclusion and reflect on the significance of the person in your life or the impact they have had on others. Leave the reader with a lasting impression or insight.

By following these tips and techniques, you can create a descriptive essay that brings your chosen person to life on the page and leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

In conclusion, writing a descriptive essay on a person is a rewarding endeavor that allows you to celebrate the unique qualities and impact of someone special.

By following these steps (about how to write a descriptive essay on a person) and pouring your heart into your writing, you can create a masterpiece that truly brings your subject to life on the page.

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What is a Descriptive Essay? How to Write It (with Examples)

What is a Descriptive Essay? How to Write It (with Examples)

A descriptive essay is a type of creative writing that uses specific language to depict a person, object, experience, or event. The idea is to use illustrative language to show readers what the writer wants to convey – it could be as simple as a peaceful view from the top of a hill or as horrific as living in a war zone. By using descriptive language, authors can evoke a mental image in the readers’ minds, engaging readers and leaving a lasting impression, instead of just providing a play-by-play narrative.

Note that a description and descriptive essay are not the same thing. A descriptive essay typically consists of five or more well-written paragraphs with vivid imagery that can help readers visualize the content, as opposed to a description, which is typically one or more plain paragraphs with no particular structure or appeal. If you are still unsure about how to write a compelling descriptive essay, continue reading!

Table of Contents

What is a descriptive essay, types of descriptive essay topics.

  • Characteristics of descriptive essays

How to write a descriptive essay using a structured outline

Frequently asked questions.

A simple descriptive essay definition is that it is a piece of writing that gives a thorough and vivid description of an object, person, experience, or situation. It is sometimes focused more on the emotional aspect of the topic rather than the specifics. The author’s intention when writing a descriptive essay is to help readers visualize the subject at hand. Generally, students are asked to write a descriptive essay to test their ability to recreate a rich experience with artistic flair. Here are a few key points to consider when you begin writing these.

  • Look for a fascinating subject

You might be assigned a topic for your descriptive essay, but if not, you must think of a subject that interests you and about which you know enough facts. It might be about an emotion, place, event, or situation that you might have experienced.

how to write descriptive essay about a person

  • Acquire specific details about the topic

The next task is to collect relevant information about the topic of your choice. You should focus on including details that make the descriptive essay stand out and have a long-lasting impression on the readers. To put it simply, your aim is to make the reader feel as though they were a part of the experience in the first place, rather than merely describing the subject.

  • Be playful with your writing

To make the descriptive essay memorable, use figurative writing and imagery to lay emphasis on the specific aspect of the topic. The goal is to make sure that the reader experiences the content visually, so it must be captivating and colorful. Generally speaking, “don’t tell, show”! This can be accomplished by choosing phrases that evoke strong emotions and engage a variety of senses. Making use of metaphors and similes will enable you to compare different things. We will learn about them in the upcoming sections.

  • Capture all the different senses

Unlike other academic articles, descriptive essay writing uses sensory elements in addition to the main idea. In this type of essay writing, the topic is described by using sensory details such as smell, taste, feel, and touch. Example “ Mahira feels most at home when the lavender scent fills her senses as she lays on her bed after a long, tiring day at work . As the candle melts , so do her worries” . It is crucial to provide sensory details to make the character more nuanced and build intrigue to keep the reader hooked. Metaphors can also be employed to explain abstract concepts; for instance, “ A small act of kindness creates ripples that transcend oceans .” Here the writer used a metaphor to convey the emotion that even the smallest act of kindness can have a larger impact.

  • Maintain harmony between flavor and flow

The descriptive essay format is one that can be customized according to the topic. However, like other types of essays, it must have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The number of body paragraphs can vary depending on the topic and available information.

It is crucial to remember that a descriptive essay should have a specific topic and goal, such as sharing personal experiences or expressing emotions like the satisfaction of a good meal. This is accomplished by employing exact language, imagery, and figurative language to illustrate concrete features. These language devices allow the writer to craft a descriptive essay that effectively transmits a particular mood, feeling, or incident to readers while also conjuring up strong mental imagery. A descriptive essay may be creative, or it may be based on the author’s own experiences. Below is a description of a few descriptive essay examples that fit into these categories.

  • Personal descriptive essay example

A personal essay can look like a descriptive account of your favorite activity, a place in your neighborhood, or an object that you value. Example: “ As I step out of the front door, the crisp morning air greets me with a gentle embrace; the big chestnut tree in front, sways in the wind as if saying hello to me. The world unfolds in a symphony of awakening colors, promising a day filled with untold possibilities that make me feel alive and grateful to be born again”.

  • Imaginative descriptive essay example

You may occasionally be required to write descriptive essays based on your imagination or on subjects unrelated to your own experiences. The prompts for these kinds of creative essays could be to describe the experience of someone going through heartbreak or to write about a day in the life of a barista. Imaginative descriptive essays also allow you to describe different emotions. Example, the feelings a parent experiences on holding their child for the first time.

Characteristics of descriptive essay s

The aim of a descriptive essay is to provide a detailed and vivid description of a person, place, object, event, or experience. The main goal is to create a sensory experience for the reader. Through a descriptive essay, the reader may be able to experience foods, locations, activities, or feelings that they might not otherwise be able to. Additionally, it gives the writer a way to relate to the readers by sharing a personal story. The following is a list of the essential elements of a descriptive essay:

  • Sensory details
  • Clear, succinct language
  • Organized structure
  • Thesis statement
  • Appeal to emotion

how to write descriptive essay about a person

How to write a descriptive essay, with examples

Writing an engaging descriptive essay is all about bringing the subject matter to life for the reader so they can experience it with their senses—smells, tastes, and textures. The upside of writing a descriptive essay is you don’t have to stick to the confinements of formal essay writing, rather you are free to use a figurative language, with sensory details, and clever word choices that can breathe life to your descriptive essay. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use these components to develop a descriptive essay that will stand out, using examples.

  • Figurative language

Have you ever heard the expression “shooting for the stars”? It refers to pushing someone to strive higher or establish lofty goals, but it does not actually mean shooting for the stars. This is an example of using figurative language for conveying strong motivational emotions. In a descriptive essay, figurative language is employed to grab attention and emphasize points by creatively drawing comparisons and exaggerations. But why should descriptive essays use metaphorical language? One it adds to the topic’s interest and humor; two, it facilitates the reader’s increased connection to the subject.

These are the five most often used figurative language techniques: personification, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, and allusion.

  • Simile: A simile is a figure of speech that is used to compare two things while emphasizing and enhancing the description using terms such as “like or as.”

Example: Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving – Albert Einstein

  • Metaphor: A metaphor are also used to draw similarities, but without using direct or literal comparisons like done in similes.   

Example: Books are the mirrors of the soul – Virginia Woolf, Between the acts

  • Personification: This is the process of giving nonhuman or abstract objects human traits. Any human quality, including an emotional component, a physical attribute, or an action, can be personified.

Example: Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world – Louis Pasteur

  • Hyperbole: This is an extreme form of exaggeration, frequently impractical, and usually employed to emphasize a point or idea. It gives the character more nuance and complexity.

Example: The force will be with you, always – Star Wars

  • Allusion: This is when you reference a person, work, or event without specifically mentioning them; this leaves room for the reader’s creativity.  

Example: In the text below, Robert Frost uses the biblical Garden of Eden as an example to highlight the idea that nothing, not even paradise, endures forever.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay

– Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost (1923)

Descriptive essays need a combination of figurative language and strong sensory details to make the essay more memorable. This is when authors describe the subject matter employing senses like smell, sound, touch, and taste so that the reader can relate to it better.

Example of a sensory-based descriptive essay: The earthy fragrance of freshly roasted chestnuts and the sight of bright pink, red, orange fallen leaves on the street reminded her that winter was around the corner.

  • Word choice

Word choice is everything in a descriptive essay. For the description to be enchanting, it is essential to utilize the right adjectives and to carefully consider the verbs, nouns, and adverbs. Use unusual terms and phrases that offer a new viewpoint on your topic matter instead of overusing clichés like “fast as the wind” or “lost track of time,” which can make your descriptive essay seem uninteresting and unoriginal.

See the following examples:

Bad word choice: I was so happy because the sunset was really cool.

Good word choice: I experienced immense joy as the sunset captivated me with its remarkable colors and breathtaking beauty.

  • Descriptive essay format and outline

Descriptive essay writing does not have to be disorganized, it is advisable to use a structured format to organize your thoughts and ensure coherent flow in your writing. Here is a list of components that should be a part of your descriptive essay outline:

  • Introduction
  • Opening/hook sentence
  • Topic sentence
  • Body paragraphs
  • Concrete details
  • Clincher statement

how to write descriptive essay about a person


  • Hook: An opening statement that captures attention while introducing the subject.
  • Background: Includes a brief overview of the topic the descriptive essay is based on.
  • Thesis statement: Clearly states the main point or purpose of the descriptive essay.

Body paragraphs: Each paragraph should have

  • Topic sentence: Introduce the first aspect or feature you will describe. It informs the reader about what is coming next.
  • Sensory details: Use emphatic language to appeal to the reader’s senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell).
  • Concrete details: These are actual details needed to understand the context of the descriptive essay.
  • Supporting details: Include relevant information or examples to improve the description.


  • Summarize key points: Here you revisit the main features or aspects of the subject.
  • Restate thesis statement: Reinforce the central impression or emotion.
  • Clincher statement: Conclude with a statement that summarizes the entire essay and serve as the last words with a powerful message.

Revision and editing:

  • Go over your essay to make sure it is coherent, clear, and consistent.
  • Check for logical paragraph transitions by proofreading the content.
  • Examine text to ensure correct grammar, punctuation, and style.
  • Use the thesaurus or AI paraphrasing tools to find the right words.

A descriptive essay often consists of three body paragraphs or more, an introduction that concludes with a thesis statement, and a conclusion that summarizes the subject and leaves a lasting impression on readers.

A descriptive essay’s primary goal is to captivate the reader by writing a thorough and vivid explanation of the subject matter, while appealing to their various senses. A list of additional goals is as follows: – Spark feeling and imagination – Create a vivid experience – Paint a mental picture – Pique curiosity – Convey a mood or atmosphere – Highlight specific details

Although they both fall within the creative writing category, narrative essays and descriptive essays have different storytelling focuses. While the main goal of a narrative essay is to tell a story based on a real-life experience or a made-up event, the main goal of a descriptive essay is to vividly describe a person, location, event, or emotion.

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  1. How To Write A Descriptive Essay On A Person: Step By Step

    Brainstorm Descriptive Details: Before you start writing, make a list of physical attributes, personality traits, habits, and mannerisms that characterize the person. Think about specific anecdotes or memories that showcase their unique qualities. Create an Outline: Organize your essay with a clear structure, including an introduction, body ...

  2. How to Write a Descriptive Essay About a Person or Place

    A descriptive essay is essentially a short piece of writing in which the author describes a person or place using words that engage all five senses: sight, touch, smell, sound and taste. As the author, you will be required to convey the physical and, more importantly, the emotional attributes of the person or the place you are describing.

  3. What is a Descriptive Essay? How to Write It (with Examples)

    1. A descriptive essay is a type of creative writing that uses specific language to depict a person, object, experience, or event. The idea is to use illustrative language to show readers what the writer wants to convey – it could be as simple as a peaceful view from the top of a hill or as horrific as living in a war zone.