Descriptive Essay

A descriptive essay, by its very nature, is subjective, as the writer must offer an opinion about how an object looks, smells, sounds, feels etc.  Consequently, a descriptive essay is not scientific or even necessarily factual.  That doesn't mean, however, that you don't need to do research on your topic, make sure you understand the concept of what you are describing, and follow sound writing practices.  For this reason, it's a good idea to find some suggestions and strategies for how to write a descriptive essay such as those presented below.

Before You Write

  • Descriptive essays can be written for just about any topic including events, places, things etc., so don’t limit your imagination when you’re deciding upon a subject.
  • Once you have a subject, don’t start writing immediately,  Rather, start by brainstorming and just jotting down a few ideas that come to mind when you think about  what you’re describing.
  • Make a list of all these ideas or even fill out a chart that shows how the object feels, tastes, looks, sounds, and smells.  Once you’ve recorded this information, you can start adding more detailed descriptions.  These ideas can then be incorporated into your descriptive essay.

Starting to Write

Follow basic essay structure:

  • Introduction: Introduce your topic and present your idea.  Include a strong thesis statement in your introduction, keeping mind that this is where you state your overall impression of the object you’re describing.
  • Body: Draw the image as you see it in the body of the essay and make use of transition statements to help your essay flow from one paragraph to the next.
  • Conclusion: Sum up what you’ve written in the conclusion of your essay and tie everything to your thesis.

General Tips

  • First describe the obvious features of your topic and then fill this in with more detailed and specific information about those features.  Do not stop at providing only general qualities.
  • Use your senses to describe your topic and to help you focus on the senses of your readers.
  • Use plenty of active verbs, adjectives, adverbs, imagery and vivid, colorful language.
  • Read samples of descriptive essays to see exactly what descriptive essay writing should look like and to get ideas for your own essay.
  • Buy an example descriptive essay to use as a model for writing your own descriptive essay.

If you follow these guidelines, you should produce a descriptive essay that is so vivid and memorable, your readers will be left feeling or thinking about the object in the same way you do.  And this is, after all, the purpose of descriptive writing.

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