What, exactly is a descriptive essay?
How are descriptive essays different from other essay types?
What steps are involved in writing a descriptive essay?
Wondering what a descriptive essay topic is...or how to write a descriptive essay?
Or maybe you just need help choosing the best descriptive essay topics...
Writing a descriptive essay is unlike writing a research paper or any other type of academic essay.
Descriptive essay writing involves narrative descriptions often involving details, emotions, sentiments, and feelings not found in other essay types.
A descriptive essay assignment may feel intimidating if you have an inadequate vocabulary, lack the ability to express yourself in writing, fail to understand resource materials, and don’t have a good grasp of English grammar and the rules of punctuation.
A descriptive essay is a short detailed paper summarizing a topic, describing your experiences and impressions. Unlike argumentative essays, you’re not required to add the responses of others; instead, describe a place, person, situation, an object, or emotion, etc. using your personal feelings and judgment.
The key is to make use of sensory details: smells, sights, sounds, touches and tastes to enable the reader to form a picture of what the writer is trying to describe.
Descriptive essays are usually short and concise. Using the right vocabulary, adjectives and adverbs, sensory details, and figurative language is fundamental to a compelling descriptive essay.
The purpose of a descriptive essay is simple: describe a person, place, thing, or event in a heavily detailed manner to form an exact picture or deliver a specific impression in the reader's mind.
You can make use of imaginative language, images, comparisons and analogies, time and location to make your descriptive essay more effective.
This article is going to be the perfect guide in your journey to understand the ins and outs of descriptive essays.
Let’s take a look at different types of descriptive essays, shall we?
When you write a descriptive essay, you’re trying to help your reader visualize something by providing them with a detailed description of the subject. It is written to make your reader feel what you once felt about a particular subject.
Your descriptive essay writing should translate your feelings, perceptions, reactions, opinions, and sentiments into language in descriptive, illuminating language. Your reader should come away from your descriptive essay with the same opinions and impressions of the subject matter you intended when writing it.
A descriptive essay seeks to appeal to some or all of the audience’s five senses. This is when you write the descriptive essay thusly:
To effectively understand the descriptive essay writing process, a clear understanding of how it differs from other essay types and a definition is in order...
Descriptive essay topics are often associated with physical settings, locations, living beings and objects.
The choice of your descriptive essay topic will dictate your analysis and the description of the subject under observation.
When describing something make sure that your essay includes the five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing.)
Here are some descriptive essay topics and suggested approaches to writing about them:
When you want to write about a person, consider the following elements:
When animals are the subject, you can use all the points mentioned above, as well as:
When your subject is a place or an architectural building, keep in mind the following points:
Generalized human behavior and psychology can be a compelling descriptive essay subject.
These make up good descriptive essays since you have experienced the event first hand. Your impressions of events, locations, people encountered are excellent descriptive essay topics
Cover each of these steps in order and your descriptive essay will almost write itself:
Pay attention to the subject’s surrounding environment.
The above picture shows a famous American painting named Whistler’s Mother.
This painting depicts a woman of the era of the 1880s.
In physical setting, we can see that she is seated in a room with a stool under her feet.
This information tells us that the subject woman can’t stand for long while she is posing for a portrait.
Physical setting includes walls, curtains and their color, design on them, the position of the chair, lighting direction, and wall hangings.
Never underestimate the power of creating drama while describing the subject in a descriptive essay.
You can write:
The teacher looks angry while standing behind the student with a stick in his hand.
Change sentence structure:
The teacher is standing behind the student, staring angrily at him, with a stick in his hand, almost as if he’s going to hit him.
You can see, just changing the sentence structure will increase dramatic interest in the image being focused upon in your descriptive essay.
Add depth of observation and character to your descriptive essay by expressing your feelings and opinions about the subject.
Carefully select the best words for describing an action or object. English is a vocabulary-rich language; multiple words can be used to describe the same subject or object.
For Example, for the word “said,” you can use the following words; depending upon the situation.
Be thoughtful and creative; using the right vocabulary is important.
Don’t always use the first word that comes to mind. Write slowly and thoughtfully with the use of specific words to convey specific thoughts. You can also benefit from our vocabulary resource given at the end of this article.
If you are given a situation or behavior subject for descriptive essay writing, always look for the psychological aspect of those emotions.
For Example: describe your emotions when your friend misplaced your notes right before the exam.
You may have several emotions in that event. Maybe you were prepared for exams, but this situation put you under psychological pressure and made you feel frustrated and hurt. You won’t be able to trust any friend with your possessions. Explore those emotions and describe the feelings they arouse.
You can also discuss body language while describing the psychological aspect.
This is the most valuable tip for students who are not good at analyzing the dimensions of the subject.
When you are looking at the subject, and having difficulty analyzing aspects of a given subject, ask yourself “why” at each step.
Why is the subject the way it is?
Use the proper essay structure and descriptive essay outline process to guide your writing. Don’t start describing things until you know the order in which you’re going to write about them.
You can find quick tips to writing a descriptive essay outline.
These are the fundamental elements of your descriptive essay outline:
Introduce your topic in an effective and compelling way through an impactful thesis statement that not only takes hold of the reader's attention but also creates clarity about the topic. A thesis statement for descriptive essays should give an idea about what to expect in the body of your essay in terms of purpose and point of view.
Traditionally, an essay consists of three body paragraphs. You must use transitional phrases to join these paragraphs.
Don’t add more than one central idea in one paragraph. Conflating ideas will appear chaotic and may be confusing to the reader.
While describing details, make sure that you transition from general details to specific details.
Your conclusion reinforces the statements made in your introductory paragraph
End your essay by verifying the thesis statement and sum up the whole description in a dynamic way that leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind about your perspective on the subject.
The conclusion should be the essence of all descriptions given in the above paragraphs.
There are many ways to say the same thing...some better than others. The same is true of individual words that may carry the same definition but convey variations of tone, emotion, point of view, and perspective. Here is a brief vocabulary guide that demonstrates this:
Selection of the right descriptive essay topic will inspire your writing, so choose carefully
We have compiled a list of descriptive essay topics available here for you to practice writing on:
Take a look at this descriptive essay sample for writing about a person.
Now relax and practice descriptive writing!
The first step is the hardest. But pick one topic and start following the above mentioned tips one by one.
Study these sample descriptive essay examples to understand the main idea, structure and purpose of descriptive essays.
Use these examples as a reference point and don’t simply copy paste them.
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