Tips on Writing a Descriptive Essay
Writers use the descriptive essay to create a vivid picture of a person, place, or thing. Unlike a narrative essay, which reveals meaning through a personal story, the purpose of a descriptive essay is to reveal the meaning of a subject through detailed, sensory observation. The descriptive essay employs the power of language and all the human senses to bring a subject to life for the reader.
If readers come away from a descriptive essay with the feeling that they have really met a person, gone to a particular place, or held a certain object, the writer has done a good job. If readers also feel an emotional connection and deep appreciation for the subject’s significance, the writer has done a great job.
The Five-Step Writing Process for Descriptive Essays
Professional writers know one thing: Writing takes work. Understanding and following the proven steps of the writing process helps all writers, including students. Here are descriptive essay writing tips for each phase of the writing process:
1. Prewriting for the Descriptive Essay
In the prewriting phase of descriptive essay writing, students should take time to think about who or what they want to describe and why. Do they want to write about a person of significance in their lives, or an object or place that holds meaning? The topic doesn’t have to be famous or unusual. The person could be a grandparent, the object, a favorite toy, and the place, a tree house.
Once a topic is chosen, students should spend time thinking about the qualities they want to describe. Brainstorm about all the details associated with the topic. Even when not writing about a place, reflect on the surroundings. Where is the object located? Where does the person live? Consider not just physical characteristics, but also what memories, feelings, and ideas the subject evokes. Memory and emotion play an important role in conveying the subject’s significance. Plan the focus of each paragraph and create an outline that puts these details into a logical sequence.
2. Drafting a Descriptive Essay
When creating the initial draft of a descriptive essay, follow the outline, but remember, the goal is to give the reader a rich experience of the subject. Keep in mind, the most important watchword of writing a descriptive essay is show, don’t tell. One of the best ways to show is to involve all of the senses—not just sight, but also hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Write so the reader will see the sunset, hear the song, smell the flowers, taste the pie, or feel the touch of a hand.
Use descriptive and figurative language, as well as concrete images to describe the subject. Similes and metaphors work well. Here are some examples:
The house was old.
The house frowned with a wrinkled brow, and inside it creaked with each step, releasing a scent of neglected laundry.
If you had to pick a study buddy, you would pick this guy.
The clock had been in our family for years.
The clock stood by our family, faithfully marking the minutes and hours of our lives.
Enjoy the process of describing the subject—it can be a rewarding experience. A descriptive essay doesn’t rely on facts and examples, but on the writer’s ability to create a mental picture for the reader.
3. Revising a Descriptive Essay
In the revision phase, students review, modify, and reorganize their work with the goal of making it the best it can be. In revising a descriptive essay, students should reread their work with these considerations in mind:
- Does the essay unfold in a way that helps the reader fully appreciate the subject? Do any paragraphs confuse more than describe?
- Does the word choice and figurative language involve the five senses and convey emotion and meaning?
- Are there enough details to give the reader a complete picture?
- Has a connection been made between the description and its meaning to the writer? Will the reader be able to identify with the conclusion made?
Always keep the reader in mind from opening to concluding paragraph. A descriptive essay must be precise in its detail, yet not get ahead of itself. It’s better to go from the general to the specific. Otherwise, the reader will have trouble building the image in their mind’s eye. For example, don’t describe a glossy coat of fur before telling the reader the essay is about a dog!
4. Editing a Descriptive Essay
At this point in the writing process, writers proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics. It’s also the time to improve style and clarity. Watch out for clichés and loading up on adjectives and adverbs. Having a friend read the essay helps writers see trouble spots and edit with a fresh perspective.
5. Publishing a Descriptive Essay
Sharing a descriptive essay with the rest of the class can be both exciting and a bit scary. Remember, there isn’t a writer on earth who isn’t sensitive about his or her own work. The important thing is to learn from the experience and take whatever feedback is given to make the next essay even better.
Time4Writing Teaches Descriptive Essay Writing
Time4Writing essay writing courses offer a highly effective way to learn how to write the types of essays required for school, standardized tests, and college applications. A unique online writing program for elementary, middle school, and high school students, Time4Writing breaks down the writing process into manageable chunks, easily digested by young writers. Students steadily build writing skills and confidence, guided by one-on-one instruction with a dedicated, certified teacher. Our middle school Welcome to the Essay and Advanced Essay courses teach students the fundamentals of writing well-constructed essays, including the descriptive essay. The high school Exciting Essay Writing course focuses in depth on the essay writing process with preparation for college as the goal. The courses also cover how to interpret essay writing prompts in testing situations. Read what parents are saying about their children’s writing progress in Time4Writing courses.
If you have got a task to write a descriptive essay at school or university, it is hardly worth immediately taking a pen and putting thoughts on paper. Experts advise to prepare for writing any academic assignment by taking four steps, following which you can make a work informative and well-structured:
- First, correctly allocate time studying the essence of the essay topic, generate ideas, collect material on essay topic using various sources.
- Secondly, write the detailed work outline.
- Then divide your work into meaningful fragments. The standard purpose of essays usually includes the following: analyze, contrast, illustrate. For example, you have been assigned to give a detailed description of some aspects (phenomena, actions), then you aren’t required to analyze them as this type of work has an aim to provide as many details as you can.
- And finally make your work as bright and lively that a reader can taste and smell the described things while a virtual place visit, which writer is talking about.
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Great Descriptive Essay Topics to Choose From
It is very important to choose the right descriptive topic. What does it mean “the right topic”? Choose an actual topic able to raise interest.
Descriptive essay topics may be either easier or more difficult. Have a look at popular topics.
Descriptive Essay Topics for 8 Grade
- How do you see your ideal world?
- How should your dream house look like?
- Share an experience of some journey, which impressed you.
- Describe the most beautiful person you know.
- Which laws do you consider inappropriate and describe why exactly?
- What are your household chores?
- Describe your first cooking experience.
- What age did you fall in love for the first time?
- Describe a person who made a great contribution to the history.
- Which design for your flat would you choose if had such an opportunity?
- What profession would you like to choose? Describe all possible benefits of your choice.
Topics for Descriptive Essays High School
- Describe the most pleasant memory.
- How do you imagine yourself in 5 years time?
- Describe your perfect wedding day.
- How do you feel when realizing that somebody lies to you?
- Give a description of your daily routine.
- Describe your feeling when you found out that Santa Claus isn’t real.
- Give a description of the best film you have watched.
- What is your favorite book about?
- Which character features do you appreciate in people most?
- How should your ideal present look like?
- What was the best gift you have ever got?
Descriptive Essay Topics for Middle School
- How should your ideal weekend look like?
- Describe your best summer.
- Which book do you like most and why?
- Which of your friends is a more pleasant person. Describe his/her main features.
- Describe your parents.
- How does your kitchen look like?
- Describe a place you want to live for the rest of your life.
- Give details about your personality.
- Describe one of your neighbors.
- Which toy was your favorite in childhood?
- Which attitude to fashion do you have?
Descriptive Essay Topics for College
- Tell which food you love most.
- Describe doing something for the first time.
- Can you imagine the world without laws and restrictions?
- What is your favorite kind of sports?
- Describe the well-known celebrity.
- Describe your unique experience.
- Give the detailed description of some process.
- Describe all steps necessary to learn to ride a bike.
- Describe holiday traditions in your family.
- How do you spend your working day?
- How do you imagine your perfect match? Include the description of his/her appearance and character.
If you use one of the above mentioned descriptive essay topics, you will definitely attract audience attention. Learn here how to write an effective title.
Descriptive Essay Examples to Look at Before Get Started
In case a student has never described anything in the written form, he or she may feel confused being unable to choose an appropriate tone. Don’t have any ideas? Look at the sample before writing a descriptive essay example.
Here you will find short descriptive essay examples:
Descriptive essay sample number 1: “How I want to spend my perfect weekend”
Descriptive essay sample number 2: My ideal house
Use descriptive essay examples if assigned to write about similar topics.
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Guidelines How to Write a Descriptive Essay
You may wonder how to write a descriptive essay. There are several things to keep in mind before you write:
- The selection of material should be systematic. What does this mean? There is no need to find out absolutely everything that in one way or another relates to the essay topic. You should focus on information that relates to the issue of the essay, has to do with it. What online resources will be useful? Should I use audio and video materials? These are the questions to ask before you get started. First, divide all sources into basic and secondary.
Usually, teachers give students a list of literature on the subject. Also, each textbook has a list of bibliographies to search for literary sources (books, magazine and newspaper publications). Get acquainted with the annotation to the publication and read excerpts from the text, only then make a decision to read the whole text. Electronic media will help you to keep abreast of current events and pick up bright living examples to illustrate the reasoning.
- Start processing the collected material only when it is sufficient to write an essay.
- Formulate themes and ideas that you want to cover in your essay. Pay special attention to the illustrative material and a descriptive essay example that will make your piece of writing more original and interesting.
- Do not forget about the structure. The paper identifies three main parts - introductory paragraph, main section, and conclusion. The main part is divided into paragraphs. Usually, every new aspect, a new idea is revealed in a new paragraph of the body.
How to Write an Introduction to a Descriptive Essay
The introduction can be considered successful if it performs the following functions:
- Informative: help your audience understand what your story will be about;
- Catching the reader’s attention:Hook the intended audience and do your best to hold their attention.
Choose the most suitable statement that covers all points that you are going to discuss in your work. Use some interesting quotes or citation making your introduction eye-catchy.
How to Create a Good Descriptive Essay Thesis
Make sure that your thesis statement meets all requirements:
- Must be short and concise,
- Must help to understand the leading idea,
- Must be understandable.
How to Write a Conclusion for a Descriptive Essay
Concluding, follow these recommendations:
- Make it clear which role it plays for you personally;
- Summarize all information given in the essay;
- Explain the reason why your reader should care about the idea provided in your essay.
Effective Tips How to Write a Descriptive Essay Outline
Follow several steps to have a good descriptive essay outline:
- Gather all topic information;
- Collect all pieces of information making it sound like one entity;
- Check out whether your text has a logical connection between the introduction, the body paragraphs, which are usually five, and the conclusion.
For example, if you have made your mind to write a description of some place, stick to the following detailed plan:
- Write an opening sentence revealing the topic idea;
- Present a place you are going to talk about;
- Tell about your feelings being at this certain place;
- Provide specific details about its location;
- Provide additional facts and details, which relate to your topic;
- Write a statement summarizing the entire word done.
The more locations you will describe, the more paragraphs your paper will consist of. If you find it difficult to organize your thoughts in the written form and develop a good outline, then you may ask those who know how to do this quickly and effectively by ordering it online.
Advice from Expert
Creating a successful description, you should use a vivid language to help your reader see the picture. Don’t forget to include different illustrative examples. You will be able to answer the question:” How to write a descriptive essay?” after you know the secret of successful descriptive texts: just make an accent on all sensory organs. Learn here how to write an observation essay.
For example, describing your holidays at the seaside, breathe life into your work and avoid formalism. Use simple, understandable language appealing to your target audience. Help your reader feel how it was great to swim and play with waves. You will succeed if the person reading your paper can feel like being there. In fact, it is a narration with more vivid details. This is the main peculiarity that makes this descriptive type of writing different from a simple narrative paper style. You may notice that compared to a narration, here you won’t see a lot of action. Sometimes there is no movement at all. Your work will contain a minimum of verbs and maximum of adjectives and adverbs.
Want to become a good writer? Then act like a fisherman who is ready to wait for long till he catches a fish. The same is about a writer, who need to be patient hitting the books and then doing his best hooking the reader. Learn here how to avoid the most common mistakes in your essay.
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