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How to write a descriptive essay

Last updated on April 23rd, 2018 at 05:19 am

What are descriptive essays?

Descriptions are actually the vivid explanations we offer, to communicate to the reader about how we look at the subject. A descriptive essay should do the same: convey to the reader the information about the subject in a striking but simple manner. A descriptive essay is the opposite of the analytical essay or argumentative essay. There are no stances taken in descriptive essays. You should just write about the subject as you see it.

Descriptive essays are meant to test the power of observation of the writer. Writing the essays requires extremely meticulous attention on the part of the writer and primary focus on details. In very simple words, when you are asked to write a description of someone or something through an essay, you need to create a full sensual experience for the reader.

You need to describe that person or object using all five of your senses – sense of sight, touch, speaking, ears and taste. Your description should be such that it should bring the event or place or object right in front of you, as if you are witnessing it for yourself. In short, your reader’s attention should be so drawn, that he or she gets completely submerged in the sensory experience: It should be a kind of sound and light show using words.

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Successful descriptive essays should be rich with imagery and deals with written account of an object, event, description, thought, emotion- anything which comes under the ability to be described. By practicing descriptive essays, students will develop their powers of observation, memory, recall, creation and imagination; thus, it develops and enhances the students’ ability to visualize and imagine what he created.

To develop one’s skills at descriptive essay writing, the best way is to keep practicing and working at it, until it shapes up into a desirable form. However, there are some guidelines, which if used appropriately, can help you to come up with very imaginative, descriptive essays. Check them out below.

Prewriting-Choice of an idea

Choose an idea or a situation, a person or an object which fascinates you, which has some influence over you and you ascribe a lot of meaning to it. When you are passionate about the idea and have a fascination with it, your writing will definitely stand out and display more clarity. You can brainstorm and thresh out lots of ideas and select the ones which seem to be the most compelling and interesting, in your view.


Since it is a descriptive essay, it needs to be as detailed and as minute as possible. For this you may need to take detailed observations of the place or object, the person you want to write about. You have to be very meticulous in your observations. If it is a place you want to write about, talk about its sights, sounds, smells, sights, visuals, feelings created, weather, environment, context, unusual or usual things, the description of the roads, houses etc and give it a personal feeling, as if you are physically there. Use all your senses and capture as many details, as is possible. Understand the reason for writing the essay and incorporate that into your writing so that your description has a powerful feeling about it. This would raise it to a higher level in terms of impact factor as that particular feeling would be resonating throughout its form.

The descriptive essay could also be about a topic in any subject. For instance, describing a specific era in history or a particular policy in economics or even a certain case in law. The descriptive essay in such instances should only depict the topic through words. You don’t have to say whether you like it or not or even whether you agree with the projected image.

Some research into the topic is very necessary to get a comprehensive view from what others have said about it. Search for information from books, articles, periodicals, or the ubiquitous internet sources. Make use of appropriate keywords to search. Then, make notes from these sources and plan an outline. Determine where you will write what. This will provide you with a good framework in which you can underpin your essay.


Get into the action right from the beginning. Try to avoid round-about paragraphs. Come straight to what you want to talk about but elaborate on it. Let the reader visualize and grasp it. That is the success of quality descriptive writing.

The descriptive essay also follows the usual format of introduction, body and conclusion. In this case, the introduction mentions the topic of the essay and gives a brief background about it. The background should be relevant but short, so as to bring the object of study succinctlyinto the view of the reader.

The body of the essay is divided into paragraphs or sections, depending on the length of the essay. Each of these should take one aspect of the topic of study and expound on it. A variety of sentence structures and a more imaginative vocabulary would serve to bring more vividness and completeness to the description.So, stock up on some good words and structures. But that’s not all. You have tomake use of them in the appropriate places to bring more punch to your essay. The only way to do this is to practice writing different sentences in different ways and then select the more suitable one. As they say, practice makes perfect and you will soon be able to breeze off sentences and whole paragraphs that can earn you great grades.

Link words or transition words and sentences are important to keep up the smooth flow of thought match the essay. The way to do this is to use a word/phrase or sentence that leads logically to the next thought or paragraph. Words like additionally, also, so, hence, however, nonetheless, in spite of, thus etc. can be used judicially to link sentences and take them to the next level. Transition sentence also provide a preview into what is coming next.

Write a conclusion that matches and fits the essay and is what the description should lead to.The conclusion should be a brief summation of what has already been said in the essay and end it with the inference of the thesis statement. Nothing new is added in the conclusion.

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