How to write a Perfect Descriptive Essay

author By Mary Boies

Often, students get assigned to write a descriptive essay where they are expected to vividly describe something, e.g., a personal experience, a location, a person, experience, situation, phenomenon, or an event.

Descriptive essay writing guide

Usually, the description is comprehensive to ensure the reader has a total picture and understanding of what is being described.

The objective of a descriptive essay is to explain someone, something, or an experience in detail to the level where the reader can picture it in their mind.

In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about writing descriptive essays, including the steps, tips, and topic ideas to write one.

What is a descriptive essay?

A descriptive essay is an essay that describes something in detail. In other words, it is an essay that uses words to paint a complete picture of something in the reader’s mind. A descriptive essay can be about a situation, an experience, an emotion, a person, a place, or an object. Like the narrative essay, a descriptive essay also entails the use of creativity, imagination, and sound choice of words and organization.

Teachers use descriptive essay assignments to enhance the analytical skills of high school students. Similarly, professors use descriptive essay assignments to improve the analytical skills of college students. Enhancing the analytical abilities of students helps them in education. It also helps them later in life.

The best way to write a descriptive essay is by using vivid language. This is because the more vivid your writing is, the easier it will be for the reader to understand and picture what is being described.

And the best thing about writing a descriptive essay is that all you need to do is to describe something completely. Unlike argumentative essays, there is no need to convince or use facts and arguments when writing a descriptive essay.

Types of descriptive Essays

The intention of being assigned to write a descriptive essay assignment is always to gauge how you can use your creativity, grasp of the English language, and imagination to vividly describe something in a way to create a picture in the mind of the audience/readers. You can be asked to write a descriptive essay on just about anything. Below are the most common types of descriptive essays at the high school and college levels.

  1. Place. A descriptive essay on a place describes a place. For example, your teacher or professor could ask you to write a descriptive essay on your hometown, your favorite city, or your favorite vacation destination. The best way to write a descriptive essay on a place is to describe its general location, its appearance, what you like about it, what you do not like about it, and why it is your favorite.
  2. Person. A descriptive essay on a person describes a person. Typically, a descriptive essay on a person will ask you to describe someone close to you. For example, it could be your mother, brother, best friend, or favorite teacher. The best way to write a descriptive essay on a person is to paint a picture of the person in the reader’s mind. In other words, it is to make the reader meet and understand the person without ever doing so physically or electronically.
  3. Feelings. A descriptive essay on feelings describes an emotion or a set of emotions. A typical one will involve, for example, the description of emotions one felt on the happiest day of their life or the saddest day of their life. The best way to write a descriptive essay is to describe the trigger and then detail all the emotions you felt in an orderly manner.
  4. Nature. A nature descriptive essay describes nature or a physical phenomenon. For example, it could describe a hill, a mountain, a forest, a river, a lake, or something similar. The best way to write a descriptive essay is first to describe what is physical and then describe everything else that pertains to it, including what it makes you feel.
  5. Memories. A descriptive memory essay is one in which the author shares their memory about something. For example, it could be about a place, an event, or an experience. To write a descriptive memory essay, you must recall or remember something. Therefore, this remembering or recollection must be reflected throughout your essay.
  6. Objects. A descriptive essay on an object describes an object. Ever read a comprehensive product review? A descriptive essay on an object is like a comprehensive product review. It looks at an object and describes it in all the ways possible. The best way to write this type of descriptive essay is first to describe what is obvious and then discuss the things that are not obvious. This creates an easy-to-understand picture for the reader to understand.

Features of Descriptive Essays

When you get assigned a descriptive essay assignment for the first time, you will most likely want to know what you need to include for it to be complete. If this is the case, you are in luck. In this section, you will discover the standard features of descriptive essays. These are also known as the critical elements of descriptive essays.

1. Figurative language

Figurative language is perhaps the most common feature/element of descriptive essays. In fact, no other descriptive essay element is as important as this one. So, if you want an excellent grade in your descriptive essay assignment, you should use figurative language everywhere possible.

Figurative language is a language that helps the reader to visualize. Examples of figurative language include symbols, adverbs, similes, adjectives, and metaphors. You should use all these generously in your descriptive essay to ensure your reader can visualize everything you are talking about.

2. Sensory details

Sensory details are important in descriptive essays. They are important because they bring out emotions in readers, making them to better understand and relate to the person or the thing being described.

So, when you can, add sensory details to your descriptive essay. They will improve the meaning of your essay and make your essay much easier to understand.

Examples of sensory details you should include in your essay include details about taste, touch, smell, and sight.

3. Central theme

Most descriptive essays have a central theme. A central theme is a running theme. Put differently; most descriptive essays focus on one thing throughout. So, if your topic is a specific object, you must focus your entire essay on describing the object from the introduction to the conclusion. However, you should not deviate from describing another object or comparing the object you were supposed to discuss with a similar object.

4. Precise language

The best descriptive essays feature precise language. Precise language is direct and to the point. If you do not use precise language in your descriptive essay, your essay will be verbose and repetitive. Few people are excited to read essays that are verbose and repetitive since such essays are often boring. Hence make sure you use precise language, as many people do in your essay, to ensure it does not get boring to the reader.

 5. Good organization

Descriptive essays have a good organization. The ideas are usually organized chronologically or in any other way that makes them easy to follow. Therefore, when writing a descriptive essay, make sure you organize your ideas in a very easy-to-follow manner to make sure your writing is very easy to understand.

Strategies/approaches for Descriptive Essays

There are three strategies for writing descriptive essays – chronological, order of importance, and spatial.

1. Chronological

This is the most popular approach for writing descriptive essays. The reason it is popular is that it is straightforward. A descriptive essay written using this approach follows a chronological order with events unfolding precisely the way they occurred. For example, a descriptive essay on a vacation trip written using this approach will describe the journey to the vacation destination, the first impressions, the activities undertaken at the destination, and the journey back home. Therefore, if you are asked to write a descriptive essay using this approach, you should make sure you detail the events in the sequence they unfolded.

2. Order of importance

This is also a popular strategy for writing descriptive essays. While it is popular, it is not as popular as the chronological order detailed above. This strategy/ approach involves discussing the details of whatever you are describing chronologically. It often involves first describing the ordinary and obvious details about something and then moving on to describing the more unique and important details. This descriptive essay is perfect for describing recipes and processes. Recipes and processes usually involve multiple linked elements that can sometimes be done independently before combining the results in the end for the result (s).

3. Spatial

The spatial order approach involves spatially describing events. It involves taking the reader through events in space. It is the best strategy to use to describe a house, a building, or a location. For example, when describing a concert venue, you can first start by describing the space outside, then the entrance, the hall itself, and other relevant spaces within the venue.

Descriptive Essay Structure and Outline

In this post section, you will discover the descriptive essay outline. Like a typical academic essay, the outline is a five-paragraph outline with one introduction, three body, and one conclusion paragraph.

Discover what you need to include in your descriptive essay structure below.

1. Introduction

When you submit an essay for grading, the first thing your professor expects to see in your essay is an introduction. An introduction that really introduces your topic and clearly explains what your essay is all about.

So, make sure your descriptive essay intro is well written and well-structured. Also, ensure that the intro is catchy to hook the reader to want to find out more by reading to the end.

Lastly, ensure your intro has a thesis statement. The thesis statement is what sets the tone for academic essays. So, make sure you have it in your descriptive essay intro.

2. Body paragraphs

The paragraphs between the introduction and conclusion paragraphs are known as body paragraphs. In a five-paragraph essay, the body paragraphs are the three middle paragraphs.

The correct way to write descriptive essay body paragraphs is to ensure that each paragraph focuses on just one major issue.

When writing the body paragraphs in your essay, you must use transition words generously. This will help make sure your body paragraphs have a good flow.

One more thing worth keeping in mind when writing body paragraphs in your essay is that you should try to use straightforward words throughout. This will ensure your body paragraphs are much easier to understand.

3. Conclusion

After writing the body paragraphs in your essay, you should write the conclusion. The conclusion paragraph should include no new facts. This is because the body paragraphs should have all the facts. Your conclusion should simply wrap up things nicely.

The most common way to write the conclusion is to first begin by rewriting your thesis statement and then rewriting your main points. After these two rewrites, you should end your conclusion paragraph with a powerful closing statement.

Descriptive Essay Outline Example

Topic: My Best Teacher

I. Paragraph I: Introduction

  1. Topic Sentence: My best teacher Jane was kind and very supportive.
  2. General/Background Statements: I had many good teachers in the past, but teacher Jane was my favorite. She was my class teacher for three years and helped me improve academically and as a person.
  3. Thesis Statement: Teacher Jane was kind, caring, compassionate, and supportive.

II. Body Paragraphs I:

  1. Topic Sentence: Teacher Jane was very kind.
  2. Support: She was always very friendly and cared about everyone.
  3. Support: She always talked nicely, even when reprimanding students.

III. Body Paragraph II:

  1. Topic Sentence: She was always humorous.
  2. Support: Teacher Jane always knew what to say to joke and make everyone happy. She never allowed dull situations to affect everyone.
  3. Support: She used humor to reprimand students and also to motivate her students.

IV. Body Paragraph III

  1. Topic Sentence: She was an honest and reliable teacher.
  2. Support: A unique thing about teacher Jane was that she was a reliable teacher you could always depend on for straightforward answers.
  3. Support: She never felt the next to lie to us at any point.

V. Paragraph V: Conclusion

Being taught by teacher Jane was a lovely teacher to my friends and me throughout junior high school. She taught me to be kind, trustworthy, and reliable as a person.

How to Write A Brilliant Descriptive Essay

Follow the steps below to write a brilliant descriptive essay. Remember, proper planning, drafting, editing, and proofreading can achieve good descriptive writing.

1. Choose a topic

The first thing you need to do to write a brilliant descriptive essay is to choose a topic. Make sure you select a topic you are familiar with or passionate about. By doing this, your familiarity with the topic or the fact that you are passionate about it will show in your essay and make it strong.

If you find it a bit difficult to choose a topic for your descriptive essay, do not worry. Simply head to the next section of this post for topic ideas for descriptive essays. You should be able to quickly come up with your own topic idea within moments of reading the list of topic ideas for descriptive essays.

2. Compile information

The best descriptive essays are those that are comprehensive and full of detail. Therefore, after choosing a topic, you should compile information to ensure you have as much information as possible.

So do thorough research on the descriptive essay topic you have chosen. Find out every detail about the topic and group the details you collect. Grouping the details is vital because it will make the step below much easier.

3. Create an outline

After choosing a topic and compiling information on it, you should create a descriptive essay outline for your essay. Creating a good outline is like building a treasure chest map; it is something that will guide you along the way to your destination.

It is easy to create a comprehensive descriptive essay outline when you have compiled information and grouped the details about the topic or subject you want to write about.

4. Write the first paragraph

After creating a descriptive essay outline, you should start writing your first paragraph (the introduction).

You should follow your outline to ensure your introduction is organized correctly and organized the way it needs to be.

The beginning of your descriptive essay sets the scene, orients the reader, and sets the subject straight. It should be appropriately and moderately loaded with sensory details that describe the subject and hint at the central focus you intend to explore about the subject.

The descriptive essay introduction is just like any other type of essay introduction. It begins with a hook statement followed by some background information and then the thesis statement.

5. Write the body paragraphs

After writing the first paragraph, your second objective should be to write the body paragraphs. Follow your outline to make sure you organize your body paragraphs properly. You do not want to end up with poorly organized or randomly organized body paragraphs.

When writing the body paragraphs of your essay following your outline, you should have two things in mind. First, you must be as descriptive and detailed as possible to make your body paragraphs paint a picture. Two, you must use precise and vivid language plus figures of speech where necessary to enhance the meanings of your statements.

6. Conclude your essay

Once you have written the body paragraphs of your essay, you should conclude it. Again, follow your outline when concluding your essay to conclude it correctly. The conclusion will start with the restatement of the thesis, then the restatement of the major points, and finally, the writing of the closing statement. Ensure to use appropriate conclusion sentence starters to signal closure to your readers.

7. Make your essay more interesting

After concluding your essay, you should go through it to make it more interesting. Make every statement more detailed, more vivid, and more precise. This will make your essay stand out as an authentic descriptive essay. It will also give your essay an excellent grade instead of an average one.

8. Proofread your essay

After making your essay more interesting, you should proofread it. Proofreading your essay will further improve it and make it ready for submission. When proofreading, seek to catch and eliminate grammar errors, punctuation mistakes, and vague sentences. After proofreading your essay thoroughly, it will be ready for submission.

Topic ideas for descriptive essays

If you cannot think of an idea that would make a good topic and title for your descriptive essay, here are some suggestions:

  1. My favorite city
  2. My favorite place in school
  3. My dream vacation destination
  4. My favorite street in town
  5. My dream house
  6. The singer I love the most
  7. The athlete I would like to meet
  8. The person I found most inspiring
  9. The person I miss the most
  10. The car I love the most
  11. How I discovered my passion for horse riding
  12. How I decided to become a doctor
  13. How I spent holidays with my grandmother
  14. How I was raised in a strict Mormon home
  15. How I fundraised for a school in Africa
  16. My favorite music genre
  17. My neighborhood in Los Angeles
  18. My favorite childhood toy
  19. My future occupation
  20. My favorite food
  21. What motivates me
  22. What keeps me up at night
  23. What I don’t like about my school
  24. What I like about my school
  25. What I like about my family
  26. How raising a family without an income feels
  27. Features, ecofacts, and artifacts of the 21st Century
  28. Why the American Dream?
  29. Who was Martin Luther King?
  30. Why Somalia is called the horn of Africa

Descriptive essay writing tips

Follow the tips below to ensure your descriptive essay is optimized for an excellent grade.

  1. Make sure it is detailed. The best descriptive essays are those that are comprehensive and detailed.
  2. Make sure you enliven your writing. After writing your essay, read it slowly to enhance each sentence you can with things such as figures of speech. This will make your essay more descriptive and interesting.
  3. Use transition words. Where necessary, use transition words in your essay to enhance the flow.
  4. Proofread your essay thoroughly. After writing your essay, you should proofread it thoroughly. This is the only way you will ensure it is ready for submission.
  5. Get inspired before writing. Going through what other scholars have written before is advisable to get inspired. Luckily, there are millions of copies of sample descriptive essays published online. You must find the most reliable website to get examples to inspire your writing.
  6. Cut out the obvious. Do not stick too much to describing the obvious features. Instead, go for the unthought features and win your readers' trust. You can be analytical in your presentation when you choose unique aspects.
  7. Have an outline. Planning is everything. For good descriptive writing, outlining helps you to be organized. You will know what to put where to achieve a certain objective. Group all the information and main points into body paragraphs and arrange them in the order of importance or from strongest to weakest. It also helps to ensure that you stick within the context of your title and topic.
  8. Do not over-describe. Too much description dilutes the content. Therefore, keep it as enjoyable as can be. Limit your description and give vivid examples, explanations, and illustrations instead.
  9. Use vivid language. Use language that forms a firmer image in the minds of the readers. You intend to create a picture in their mind, so do it in a way that helps them see it as they read. You can also help them understand the nuanced meanings of whatever you describe.
  10. Bring in Sensory details. When describing your subject, make it appealing to the readers' senses. You must explain how it looks, smells, tastes, or feels. When you embellish the moment with senses, you are all done convincing your readers you are a pro at descriptive writing.

Final words

Descriptive writing is enjoyable. When writing a descriptive essay, you should describe your subject to create a vivid image in the readers' minds.

Now that you have read this comprehensive descriptive writing guide, you are all set up to use the steps, tips, and ideas to develop a top-grade essay. You can write, in detail, your encounters, experiences, and observations and have the artistic freedom to do so.

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