How to Write a Descriptive Essay: Full Guide With Tips
In this article, we examine the descriptive essay and present a step-by-step writing guide. Stick around for helpful writing tips near the end! Also, check out custom writers at EssayPro — political science essay service, if you need private tutoring or essay editing.
What is a Descriptive Essay?
The definition of a descriptive essay is a type of composition or paper which describes an object, person, process, or event. The writer’s goal is to create a vivid reading experience, or to show instead of tell (metaphorically).
Descriptive writing usually appeals to the five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight. (Ex: Jack’s coffee mug exploded into tiny shards of glass, catching the attention of everyone at the office.) Always appealing to the senses is key to writing a good descriptive essay.
When writing a descriptive essay, your goal will be to paint a comprehensive picture for the reader by appealing to the five senses. Last but not least, your work should have a purpose. It could be anything from a lesson you learned from an experience, to a story of how an object impacted your life. It’s all about making your bright ideas come to life.
Difference Between a Description and a Descriptive Essay
When writing this type of paper, you should know the difference between a description and a descriptive essay. A description can be just a simple paragraph, or several ones with no specific structure, meanwhile, a descriptive essay has five or more paragraphs and a clear and complete structure. A descriptive essay is usually written coherently, has a good thesis statement at the end of the introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. A description however, does not necessarily have a structure. Its main purpose is to just describe an object, or something else, without having any extra academic layers.
The Issues that Could be Described in Your Paper
- A person. In this paper, you can talk about a person. It can range from simply writing about their appearance to more complex descriptions like actions, behaviours, mood, and qualities of your chosen individual.
- A place. The main thing you should do when describing a place in your work is to describe it interestingly and originally. Your reader(s) should feel, for example, the beauty of your chosen cities—perhaps New York or Rome.
- An event. Here you need to describe the story of what happened. It can be your last vacation, concert, wedding, anniversary, summer music festival, graduation day, or so on.
- An animal. In this type, you need to describe the animal. It may be its appearance, behaviour, or biology.
- An occupation. Here you need to write about a job or occupation.
- A behaviour. This is the type of descriptive writing you should go for if you would like to write about someone’s behaviour. Perhaps you want to describe the strange behaviour of your friend, or highlight how certain people act under different conditions.
Bring your descriptions to life with EssayPro . Our team can help you create vivid, immersive descriptive essays that captivate the senses. Describe scenes, emotions, and experiences like never before.
Two Classic Approaches to the Descriptive Essay
1. Personal Essay
Here you need to describe an experience using your feelings and responses. This work can awake empathy in readers. It can also be vague and disorganized. If you want to write a good personal essay, you should try to focus only on those aspects that most fully express your experience. Do not shy away from vivid, evocative language in this type of assignment.
A few examples of personal essay topics might be:
- Describing the experience of swimming in the azure sea in summer
- Explaining your favourite movie and its impact on you
- Reflecting on your birthday and all the things that have shaped you in the past
2. Formal Description
This type of descriptive writing resembles an argumentative essay. Your main goal should be communicating a set of key points or describing something in detail—according to a clear structure. Rather than focusing on your own experience, you need to use specific categories of information to provide the fullest possible portrait of what you are describing. This approach can also be engaging, especially when the reader is more curious about the subject of the paper than the writer's response to it. Still, try not to make it dull with too formal language.
Topics for formal descriptions can include:
- A descriptive essay about climate change, politics, or historical events.
- A news story that provides a summary of an event or information about the place where it occurred.
Descriptive Essay Topics & Ideas
Finding descriptive essay topics isn’t hard. You can describe pretty much anything—from your favourite car to today’s weather. We’ve gathered some ideas to help you get started. Hopefully, you’ll find good descriptive essay topics to spark your imagination.
Descriptive Essay Topics: People
Exploring the essence of individuals through this type of writing can be both engaging and insightful. Here are ten distinctive essay topics centered on people that go beyond the ordinary:
- The Eccentric Street Performer Who Danced with Shadows
- A Glimpse into the Daily Routine of a Lighthouse Keeper
- The Mysterious Antique Shop Owner: Guardian of Forgotten Tales
- A Day in the Life of a Vintage Jazz Club's Bartender
- The Tattooed Wanderer: Stories Etched in Ink
- A Conversation with the Urban Gardener Transforming Cityscapes
- Portrait of a Silent Mime Artist: Communicating Without Words
- A Chef's Culinary Odyssey: Exploring Flavor on a Plate
- The Whimsical World of a Puppeteer: Strings of Imagination
- Life Beneath the Spotlight: A Theatrical Makeup Artist's Secrets
Descriptive Essay Topics: Place
Places possess a unique ability to evoke emotions and tell their own stories through descriptive essay writing. To transport your readers to captivating destinations, consider these ten distinct topics, each offering a glimpse into a one-of-a-kind locale:
- The Forgotten Underground Catacombs: A Subterranean Labyrinth of Secrets
- Serenity by the Secluded Cliffside Cottage: Echoes of Solitude
- A Day in the Life of an Abandoned Amusement Park: Whispers of Laughter
- The Enchanted Forest: A Realm of Ancient Mysteries
- A Fishing Village Frozen in Time: Life on the Shores of Nostalgia
- The Rooftop Gardens of Babylon: Urban Oases in the Sky
- The Hidden Café of Lost Conversations: Where Coffee and Stories Brew
- A Night at the Desert Oasis: Starlit Mirages and Mirage Stars
- The Echoing Halls of the Sunken Ship: A Submerged Voyage into History
- The Neon Glow of the Midnight Arcade: Dreams Illuminated in Pixels
Descriptive Essay Topics: Memories
Memories offer a rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be woven into your descriptive essays. Dive into the realms of nostalgia and introspection with these topics, each drawing upon the power of recollection:
- The Unfading Echoes of Childhood Hideouts: Adventures in the Past
- A Forgotten Diary's Pages: Secrets of Lost Sentiments
- The Last Summer Before College: Sunsets of Transition
- The Old Family Recipe Book: Savoring Generations in Every Dish
- Ghosts of Prom Nights Past: The Dance of Teenage Dreams
- The Antique Music Box: Tunes That Unravel Time's Veil
- Letters from the Front Lines: Ink-Stained Testaments of Courage
- The Forgotten Album of Polaroids: Snapshots of Precious Moments
- Ancestral Attic Treasures: Relics of Heritage and Identity
- The Whispers of a Childhood Blanket: Comfort Woven in Threads
Creating a Descriptive Essay Outline
When thinking about descriptive essay writing, 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
- Hook sentence
- Context/Background information
- Thesis statement
- Body paragraphs
- Topic sentence
- Sensory details
- Actual details
- A conclusion
- Summary of all main points
- Clincher Statement
It is important to spend enough time considering the victim of description because all of your illustrations will be based around it.
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The introduction serves to introduce your subject to the reader and give them enough context to fully understand your work—but keep it brief and interesting for the reader(s). When learning how to write a descriptive essay introduction, remember – the first paragraph of your paper is the part that can make your descriptive essay stand out from the others.
As with any college paper, a descriptive essay introduction must contain the following points:
- Hook Sentence: Although the entire paper should be full of exciting and vivid descriptions, grabbing the reader's attention from the very beginning is ideal.
- Context/Background Information: Tell the reader what you’re about to describe and explain why it is crucial to you. Give them a brief context for your paper.
- Thesis Statement: The descriptive essay thesis should be a short yet concise summary of the work. It must include the subject of your description, and your purpose for describing it.
For further information on how to write a thesis for a descriptive essay, check out the examples below.
Place. If you were to write about Buckingham Palace: “Even though the monarchy is long gone, Buckingham Palace serves to remind us of the aesthetic beauty which that era had built.” Person. For describing Spider-Man: “The defining characteristics of Spider-Man are his youthfulness, New York City, and the fact that he talks to himself more than Hamlet.” Emotion. A piece about a personal experience of fear: “For many reasons, the dark forest is my greatest fear, though not a fear which I would necessarily like to venture into.”
There are usually three body paragraphs in a paper. They cover three different points or arguments. How many body paragraphs to include in your descriptive essay is entirely up to you—or your professor. Sometimes it only takes a paragraph to tell a story, while other times it takes books.
How to write a body paragraph:
- Start with a topic sentence. ex. The orange looks familiar; it is a round citrus fruit whose colour matches its name.
- Add sensory details. When describing the orange, appeal to relatable senses.
- Include actual details. Always include descriptive information within your body paragraphs. Finish a body paragraph by introducing the next. Transition sentences are essential because they create immersion within your writing. Your writing will become better and it won’t appear as if you are reading a list of facts.
The descriptive essay is one type of 5 paragraph essay , which is the most common type of essay a student may encounter.
According to the descriptive essay format, your conclusion should be a summary of all of the main points in the body text. It is a good idea to write a final sentence that relates to the main point of your paper. Once this is done, the paper is now complete. We advise that you proofread your descriptive essay to correct any grammatical errors.
Try to incorporate the following into your conclusion:
- The first thing to do at the end is to reflect on the initial purpose of the work. Spill the beans on why you decided to write about this subject, and how this subject has affected your life. An article about reflection paper may also be helpful to you.
- Signify the Importance of the Details: Go over some key moments of the paper. Give a summary of what you have covered, and prepare the audience for the clincher statement.
- Clincher Statement: The clincher is the final sentence that reinforces your paper’s overall purpose or leaves your audience with an intriguing thought, question, or quote. You’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking of a hook to pull the audience in. Do not allow the paper to escape your audience’s thoughts right after they have finish reading it.
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Writing and Reviewing Your Descriptive Paper Writing
Writing the paper consists of the following stages:
- Pre-writing stage. Here you need to examine all of the sources you have and define if they all offer important information on the topic of your choice.
- Writing the beginning. You should start your paper with a powerful, engaging hook that will grab the readers' attention. It may include an unusual metaphor or an interesting literary quote.
- Creating the first draft of your descriptive essay. Here is where you just need to write down all of the words that come to your mind; you'll have a chance to narrow down your ideas later.
- Adding details to your paper with the help of enriched English vocabulary and online dictionaries. Use your English vocabulary to add missing feelings, like hearing, to help make the descriptive essay leave a lasting impression.
- Revising and editing the paper with the help of different free online grammar checking tools.
Let’s talk in detail about the final step here: reviewing your paper. After you finish writing, take a break. It’s always best to clear your mind before editing your paper.
When you come back to your descriptive essay, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Have you provided enough context in the introduction?
- Is the paper easy to read?
- Does the thesis relate to the content of the paper?
- Does the paper feature vivid, descriptive language?
- Will the clincher statement leave a lasting impact?
- Are there enough details to make it possible for your readers to obtain a full and vivid perception of your description?
- Does each section of your work focus on one aspect of your description?
- Does your paper possess any unnecessary details in your description that can be thrown away or replaced by more meaningful information?
- Overall, if you were the reader, does this paper make sense to you?
- Are there any problems with grammar and punctuation?
Sometimes web applications like Grammarly or the Hemingway app can help you sort your grammar. However, it’s always best to master the rules of grammar yourself and become the best writer you can be. Once you’re convinced you have the final draft, read it out loud or give it to a friend to read. Sometimes you need some constructive criticism to tie up loose ends in your writing. You can also trust the professionals and buy cheap essay on EssayPro service.
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Descriptive Essay Examples
Embracing the art of descriptive writing isn't always a natural gift for everyone. For those seeking inspiration and guidance, we prepared an example of a descriptive essay which is a valuable resource. Meanwhile, we acknowledge that not everyone may possess the innate talent for painting vivid word pictures. If you find yourself in need of assistance with more intricate endeavors, such as dissertations, rest assured that our team comprises writers who possess the innate ability to weave eloquent prose that breathes life into your ideas.
Example 1: 'The Enchanted Library: A Gateway to Forgotten Realms'
In this descriptive essay example, the author masterfully employs a wide array of descriptive tools, deftly painting a vivid picture of 'Bibliotheca Mirabilis.' Through metaphor, personification, and sensory details, the library comes to life, almost becoming a character within the narrative. The author's choice of words and careful descriptions immerses the reader in the enchanting setting, creating a captivating journey through the realms of imagination.
The writer of this descriptive essay example explains how there was a lot of life before humans existed. The world was full of Blue Jays and North Cardinal birds that most probably ate pansy seeds as a stable diet. In this example, it is clear that the writer has put himself/herself in the perspective of someone in the far future. He/she describes how we were in the 21st century, and how we used the poles as communication portals.
Example 2: 'The Forgotten Watchmaker: Crafting Timepieces of Elegance'
In this essay, the author adeptly employs a variety of descriptive tools to transport the reader into the heart of the potter's workshop. Through carefully chosen words, the workshop's ambiance, from the earthy scent of clay to the warmth of the kiln, becomes palpable. The rustic charm and ceramics in different stages of creation evoke a strong sense of tradition and dedication. The potter emerges as a central figure, their expertise and passion clearly portrayed. This essay immerses the reader in a world of craftsmanship, where each piece of pottery carries a unique narrative, and the art of creation is celebrated with profound reverence.
In the eyes of the untrained, a rugby game is just a bunch of huge individuals senselessly fighting one another, struggling to move an oval ball inch by inch down a field full of mud towards the goal line of the opposing team. Players don’t put on pads or get a timeout in the event of injuries. Yet rugby is a different thing, a gentleman’s sport—to those who understand it. While rugby appears rough, its players maintain good respect toward both teammates and opponents.
For those who may find writing a challenging endeavor, rest assured that it's a skill that can be developed over time. If you're looking for expert guidance or assistance with your academic life, our team includes experienced wordsmiths who can even help with dissertation writing. Whether you're working on essays, stories, or any writing project, we're here to support your creative journey and help you convey your ideas more effectively.
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Descriptive Writing: Check out the Essay Formats and Examples
Descriptive Writing: Descriptive Writing is a writing format in which the writer describes the topics in an ideal way so that the reader can easily picturize and experience the scenario. This is very important for all the students and government exam aspirants. This writing process not only improves an individual’s writing abilities but also helps construct subjective answers in exams.
It can be done in various formats of writing like essay writing, answer writing, story writing, poetry, etc. In this, the writer briefs every detail to the reader and creates an interesting space through the minor details. Although, dragging the same things won’t make the article worth it. Instead, writers need to use a proper format and make the most sense out of their writing.
How to do Descriptive Writing?
Many people find it difficult to expand their thoughts while writing or they habitually write each piece in short. This is a major problem that students experience while writing subjective answers or essays. We will be providing you with the techniques to make your writing descriptive and interesting for the readers.
- Have a depth knowledge of the topic: To write anything or to think about writing any piece, you need to have a clear understanding of your topic. An individual cannot construct interesting descriptive writing when he/she does not have knowledge of the topic. Before writing, the writer needs to do research about the given topic and dig for as much information as possible.
- Always start with an introduction: Whenever writing any piece, people always make the mistake of skipping the introduction. The introduction is a very important part as it gives the reader idea about the contents and relevance of the whole article. This not only makes the article more informative but also helps in elaborating the whole article.
- Create the outline: Whenever you start writing, it’s very important to create an outline of the whole article. By outline, we refer to the subheading and headings of the article and brief them accordingly. This will make your task easier and more effective for the reader.
- Always summarize the article at last: After completing the writing, always add a conclusion part and summarize the whole article. If you are unable to summarize the whole thing, make sure to summarize the main points of the whole writing.
Descriptive writing can be used in various forms of writing. Although, it is mainly used in essay writing. Descriptive essays are very different from normal essays but descriptive writing can be used in other forms of essays also. An essay is one of the best ways to convey your thoughts or experience in an interesting and precise way.
Essays are generally used for academic purposes and are often asked in government exams. There are basically four types of essays and they are as follows:
These type of essays basically narrate a story in the form of essays. While writing this kind of essay, writer needs to properly detail about the characters, plot and climax should not be missed. Narrative essay give an emotional ride and provide relevance to the reader.
This is also called a persuasive essay. Through these kinds of essays, the writer tries to prove their point or create a point of view for the readers they want. Writers try to create an opinion about a particular topic whether it is in favor or against the topic.
As the name suggests, descriptive essays are always in brief detail. Writer explains the topic from every perspective and covers each minor detail. In these kind of essays, it is very important for writer to have a deep knowledge of the given topic. Although, descriptive does not mean that you can fill it up with anything that comes in your mind, essay should be interesting and engaging for the readers.
These types of essays exposes the perspectives or problems regarding the particular topic. The main idea of these kind of essays is to provide information with the explanation. Although, storytelling is also included in these essays but they only to convey information in a simple and easy form. The motive of these essays is to provide the explanation to the readers and it should be fulfilled.
Formats of Essay Writing
When writing an essay, you should follow a proper set of formats. The format makes it easy for the writer to design a blueprint for the essay. Also, essay is judged or reviewed on the basis of proper format and it’s elements. The format of essay writing is as follows:
- Introduction: The introduction is the first paragraph of the essay in which the writer introduces the topic. This gives an idea of the content of the essay to the reader. Although, the introduction is not lengthy and mostly has 5-6 lines.
- Body: This is the most crucial part of the essay, you can also call it one of the favorite parts of writers. In the body, writers give all the information about the topic and this is the part that engages the readers. It is very important to write an informative and interesting body so it provides information to the readers and at the same time engages them.
- Conclusion: The conclusion is the summarization of the whole essay. It is necessary to inform the readers about the output of the whole essay. Sometimes, the body has vast information and it becomes necessary to conclude the information to give an accumulative perspective.
Example of the Descriptive Essay
As mentioned above, you must have understood the format and types of essays by now. We will provide you with a sample of an essay to give a better understanding. The topic of sample essay is “Is Technology a Boon or Bane?”
Technology has highly evolved over time. In fact, nowadays almost everybody has some sort of machine at hand, be it computers, cars, or even washing machines. But although machinery was devised to benefit mankind, it has also brought along many flaws to match.
[The topics is introduced and developed in this paragraph. The write talks about both, the good and the bad aspects. This not only indicates knowledge of the topic but will also help him present a “range of ideas” in the subsequent paragraphs.]
Firstly, when it comes to technological equipment such as computers, disruption most often arises between the person using the computer, and the household he or she is surrounded by, or living with. For example, many old family traditions such as eating meals with your relatives at the dining table seldom take place now that one of the family members might be too busy working on his Mac. laptop. Thus, family values and morals have changed in order to adapt to this technological age.
Secondly, having many kinds of machinery at hand is not only destroying family traditions, but is also very harmful to our environment. Many people are careless about allowing their car engines to run haphazardly, or leaving their laptops on for long periods of time, however they do not seem aware of the fact that all this energy and electricity consumption is dangerous to not only our local environment, but to the world as a whole. Additionally, it is the over-usage of machinery big or small that is bringing our society ever closer to Global Warming, and we must stop.
As mentioned in the introduction, technological equipment was never programmed to damage nature per se, but to help people all around the globe. Now that nuclear families aren’t as closely intact compared to the 1950s or 1990s, technology has given us an alternative method to keep in touch with our relatives thanks to computer applications such as Skype, or even mobile phone applications such as WhatsApp. Machinery has most definitely done wonders in our lives, and we as people should be grateful to easily possess cars, and phones when poorer countries do not even have the chance to.
[ In the above three paragraphs, the usage of pointers, such as ‘firstly’ and ‘secondly’ shows the logical cohesiveness of the essay. The writer has developed each supporting point richly by using examples and connected the ideas together so that the essay reads smoothly. ]
However, with all the advantages machinery has brought to us all, I personally believe that possessing too many cars or phones, or even consuming too much of their energy and battery, is beginning to get out of hand and needs to be controlled.
[ Note that the writer has also, made a conclusion. This is a very important part of an essay. The entire essay shows a proficiency with grammatical structures and vocabulary. ]
We have provided numerous numbers of examples of descriptive essays in our e-book. You can check out the e-book and enhance your writing skills in a short period. Candidates can download the Descriptive Writing Free e-book from the link given below.
We hope that this blog gave you a better understanding of Descriptive Writing- Essay formats and their examples. To read more blogs like this check out the Oliveboard website.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The four major types of essays are Narrative essays, Argumentative essays, Descriptive essays, and Expository essays.
Yes, the introduction is a crucial part of any essay.
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- Descriptive Essay
You ever read a really good travel essay? It makes you believe that you are there with the writer, it paints a vivid picture. This is because the essay is so descriptive, that it appeals to our senses. As a result, our brain starts imagining it. Let’s learn more about a descriptive essay.
What is a descriptive essay.
Our brain is so powerful that it can easily imagine scenarios and make use of our senses. The job of such an essay is to appeal to our senses in a way that it creates an image in our minds. Hence a descriptive essay plays with at least one of our five senses (touch, smell, taste, hearing, sight).
In other words, the description of the person, place or thing in an essay should be really vivid. This means it after reading the essay, the reader should be left feeling like they actually know the person, have held the object or have visited the place.
In the light of the above-mentioned things, it is comfortable to say that a descriptive essay provides for artistic freedom. For example, assume you’re writing about a house.
Instead of simply stating that the house was beautiful, you should talk about the color of the house, the garden in front of it i.e. all the details about the house. In that way, the readers would be able to imagine the house because of a nicely written essay.
Contents of a Descriptive Essay
As it is with most of the written forms of English literature, the basic structure of a descriptive essay also comprises of an introduction, a body, and the conclusion.
- The introduction of a descriptive essay should be interesting enough to catch a reader’s attention. The introduction should be all about creating a base or a background for the person, place or thing you’re going to describe in your essay.
- Next, the main body of a descriptive essay should appeal to the reader’s senses. This includes unfolding the information by creating images in the reader’s mind. A trick to achieving this is to explain how the subject about which you’re writing in your descriptive essay, appeals to your senses.
- Lastly, the conclusion should summarize the whole essay. Along with again going over the main details about the essay’s subject, you should end the essay in a way that it gives a sense of completion.
How to Write a Descriptive Essay?
Before starting off with a descriptive essay, thinking about the subject in detail will be your best bet. Just take some time off and imagine about the subject. This means to imagine how the subject appeals to your senses- how does it smell, looks like and so on.
Further, if the subject is related to a past experience think about how it felt or your experience with the subject. Next, express all of these on the paper right in front of you. You can also take some time to think about how you want your essay to unfold. Lastly, a revision of the essay provides a great opportunity for improvements and small tweaks. Remember that a descriptive essay is all about teasing the reader’s senses.
A Solved Example For You
Q: A descriptive essay should:
- Narrate a story.
- Appeal to the reader’s senses.
- Present an argument
- None of the above
Ans: The correct option is ‘B’. A descriptive essay should appeal to the reader’s senses in such a way that the reader feels at one with the subject of the essay.
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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
What is a descriptive essay?
The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe something—object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc. This genre encourages the student’s ability to create a written account of a particular experience. What is more, this genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom (the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader).
One might benefit from keeping in mind this simple maxim: If the reader is unable to clearly form an impression of the thing that you are describing, try, try again!
Here are some guidelines for writing a descriptive essay.
- Take time to brainstorm
If your instructor asks you to describe your favorite food, make sure that you jot down some ideas before you begin describing it. For instance, if you choose pizza, you might start by writing down a few words: sauce, cheese, crust, pepperoni, sausage, spices, hot, melted, etc. Once you have written down some words, you can begin by compiling descriptive lists for each one.
- Use clear and concise language.
This means that words are chosen carefully, particularly for their relevancy in relation to that which you are intending to describe.
- Choose vivid language.
Why use horse when you can choose stallion ? Why not use tempestuous instead of violent ? Or why not miserly in place of cheap ? Such choices form a firmer image in the mind of the reader and often times offer nuanced meanings that serve better one’s purpose.
- Use your senses!
Remember, if you are describing something, you need to be appealing to the senses of the reader. Explain how the thing smelled, felt, sounded, tasted, or looked. Embellish the moment with senses.
- What were you thinking?!
If you can describe emotions or feelings related to your topic, you will connect with the reader on a deeper level. Many have felt crushing loss in their lives, or ecstatic joy, or mild complacency. Tap into this emotional reservoir in order to achieve your full descriptive potential.
- Leave the reader with a clear impression.
One of your goals is to evoke a strong sense of familiarity and appreciation in the reader. If your reader can walk away from the essay craving the very pizza you just described, you are on your way to writing effective descriptive essays.
- Be organized!
It is easy to fall into an incoherent rambling of emotions and senses when writing a descriptive essay. However, you must strive to present an organized and logical description if the reader is to come away from the essay with a cogent sense of what it is you are attempting to describe.
- A Research Guide
- Writing Guide
- Essay Writing
How to Write a Descriptive Essay
- Descriptive essay definition
- Basic descriptive essay structure
Step-by-step descriptive essay writing guide
Descriptive essay formatting tips.
- Descriptive essay examples
Descriptive essay definition in writing
- Describe every aspect that surrounds your subject or an experience without missing anything.
- Provide your readers with a detailed description that makes it easy to follow what has been happening.
- Do not leave your readers in suspense or confusion as they finish reading your descriptive essay.
- Use descriptions and literary devices like metaphors, repetitions, or allegories.
- Focus on all the important points that help inspire and create a picture in readers’ minds.
- Apply all five senses in your writing. It will guarantee that your descriptive essays earn the best mark from every college professor as you follow descriptive writing rules!
Basic descriptive essay structure and outline rules
Step 1: brainstorming ideas..
Step 2: The use of senses.
Step 3: choosing correct descriptive words., step 4: satisfactory description trick., step 5: good organization., step 6: proofreading aloud., helpful descriptive essay examples.
- A Descriptive Essay on Who I Am by Edubirdie (Our academic writing assistant).
- Descriptive Essays by Purdue University.
- 5/6 Descriptive Writing Examples by Dorset Primary School.
- Examples of Descriptive Essays by Cache County School District.
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- How to write a descriptive essay | Example & tips
How to Write a Descriptive Essay | Example & Tips
Published on July 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 14, 2023.
A descriptive essay gives a vivid, detailed description of something—generally a place or object, but possibly something more abstract like an emotion. This type of essay , like the narrative essay , is more creative than most academic writing .
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Descriptive essay topics, tips for writing descriptively, descriptive essay example, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about descriptive essays.
When you are assigned a descriptive essay, you’ll normally be given a specific prompt or choice of prompts. They will often ask you to describe something from your own experience.
- Describe a place you love to spend time in.
- Describe an object that has sentimental value for you.
You might also be asked to describe something outside your own experience, in which case you’ll have to use your imagination.
- Describe the experience of a soldier in the trenches of World War I.
- Describe what it might be like to live on another planet.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to describe something more abstract, like an emotion.
If you’re not given a specific prompt, try to think of something you feel confident describing in detail. Think of objects and places you know well, that provoke specific feelings or sensations, and that you can describe in an interesting way.
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The key to writing an effective descriptive essay is to find ways of bringing your subject to life for the reader. You’re not limited to providing a literal description as you would be in more formal essay types.
Make use of figurative language, sensory details, and strong word choices to create a memorable description.
Use figurative language
Figurative language consists of devices like metaphor and simile that use words in non-literal ways to create a memorable effect. This is essential in a descriptive essay; it’s what gives your writing its creative edge and makes your description unique.
Take the following description of a park.
This tells us something about the place, but it’s a bit too literal and not likely to be memorable.
If we want to make the description more likely to stick in the reader’s mind, we can use some figurative language.
Here we have used a simile to compare the park to a face and the trees to facial hair. This is memorable because it’s not what the reader expects; it makes them look at the park from a different angle.
You don’t have to fill every sentence with figurative language, but using these devices in an original way at various points throughout your essay will keep the reader engaged and convey your unique perspective on your subject.
Use your senses
Another key aspect of descriptive writing is the use of sensory details. This means referring not only to what something looks like, but also to smell, sound, touch, and taste.
Obviously not all senses will apply to every subject, but it’s always a good idea to explore what’s interesting about your subject beyond just what it looks like.
Even when your subject is more abstract, you might find a way to incorporate the senses more metaphorically, as in this descriptive essay about fear.
Choose the right words
Writing descriptively involves choosing your words carefully. The use of effective adjectives is important, but so is your choice of adverbs , verbs , and even nouns.
It’s easy to end up using clichéd phrases—“cold as ice,” “free as a bird”—but try to reflect further and make more precise, original word choices. Clichés provide conventional ways of describing things, but they don’t tell the reader anything about your unique perspective on what you’re describing.
Try looking over your sentences to find places where a different word would convey your impression more precisely or vividly. Using a thesaurus can help you find alternative word choices.
- My cat runs across the garden quickly and jumps onto the fence to watch it from above.
- My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above.
However, exercise care in your choices; don’t just look for the most impressive-looking synonym you can find for every word. Overuse of a thesaurus can result in ridiculous sentences like this one:
- My feline perambulates the allotment proficiently and capers atop the palisade to regard it from aloft.
An example of a short descriptive essay, written in response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” is shown below.
Hover over different parts of the text to see how a descriptive essay works.
On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.
My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.
With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…
Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.
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The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.
Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.
If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.
The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.
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How to Write a Descriptive Essay
Last Updated: February 8, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,493,485 times.
A good descriptive essay creates a vivid picture of the topic in the reader’s mind. You may need to write a descriptive essay as a class assignment or you may decide to write one as a fun writing challenge. Start by brainstorming ideas for the essay. Then, outline and write the essay using vivid sensory details and strong descriptions. Always polish your essay and proofread it so it is at its best.
Brainstorming Ideas for the Essay
- You could also choose a fictional person to write about, such as a character in a book, a story, or a play. You could write about a character on your favorite TV show or video game.
- Another take on this option is to write about a made-up place or object, such as the fantastical school in your favorite book or the magic wand from your favorite TV show.
- You could also choose a more specific emotion, such as brotherly love or self-hatred. These emotions can make for powerful descriptive essays.
- For example, if you were writing about a person like your mother, you may write down under “sound” : “soft voice at night, clack of her shoes on the floor tiles, bang of the spoon when she cooks.”
Writing the Essay
- If you are writing the essay for a class, your instructor should specify if they want a five paragraph essay or if you have the freedom to use sections instead.
- For example, if you were writing a descriptive essay about your mother, you may have a thesis statement like: “In many ways, my mother is the reigning queen of our house, full of contradictions that we are too afraid to question.”
- For example, if you were writing the essay about your mom, you may start with: “My mother is not like other mothers. She is a fierce protector and a mysterious woman to my sisters and I.”
- If you were writing an essay about an object, you may start with: "Try as I might, I had a hard time keeping my pet rock alive."
- You can also use adjectives that connect to the senses, such “rotting,” “bright,” “hefty,” “rough,” and “pungent.”
- For example, you may describe your mother as "bright," "tough," and "scented with jasmine."
- You can also use similes, where you use “like” or “as” to compare one thing to another. For example, you may write, “My mother is like a fierce warrior in battle, if the battlefield were PTA meetings and the checkout line at the grocery store.”
- For example, you may write about your complicated feelings about your mother. You may note that you feel sadness about your mother’s sacrifices for the family and joy for the privileges you have in your life because of her.
- For example, you may end a descriptive essay about your mother by noting, “In all that she has sacrificed for us, I see her strength, courage, and fierce love for her family, traits I hope to emulate in my own life.”
Polishing the Essay
- You can also read the essay aloud to others to get their feedback. Ask them to let you know if there are any unclear or vague sentences in the essay.
- Be open to constructive criticism and feedback from others. This will only make your essay stronger.
- If you have a word count requirement for the essay, make sure you meet it. Add more detail to the paper or take unnecessary content out to reach the word count.
Outline for a Descriptive Essay
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- ↑ http://www.writeexpress.com/descriptive-essay.html
- ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 24 July 2020.
- ↑ https://www.iup.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/organization-and-structure/descriptive-writing.html
- ↑ https://spcollege.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=10168248
- ↑ http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/style_purpose_strategy/descriptive_essay.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/descriptive_essays.html
- ↑ https://vln.school.nz/groupcms/view/845349/descriptive-writing
About This Article
To write a descriptive essay, start by choosing a topic, like a person, place, or specific emotion. Next, write down a list of sensory details about the topic, like how it sounds, smells, and feels. After this brainstorming session, outline the essay, dividing it into an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Open with a vivid introduction that uses sensory details, then introduce your thesis statement, which the rest of your essay should support. Strengthen your essay further by using metaphors and similes to describe your topic, and the emotions it evokes. To learn how to put the finishing touches on your essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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