If you’ve been assigned a descriptive essay, don’t panic. A descriptive essay is simply an assignment that requires you to write about the experiences and observations of your life. This blog post will provide examples of topics for a descriptive essay, tips on how to organize your thoughts into coherent sentences, and ways to use images in order to bring your story to life.
What is a Descriptive Essay?
A descriptive essay is a type of writing that describes something. This can be anything from an object to a person, place or event. Writing a descriptive essay is all about giving your reader the chance to experience what you’re writing about. It’s important for writers to employ imagery and sensory details so the reader can have a clear picture in their minds eye as they read about what you’re trying to describe.
The Goal of Descriptive Writing
The goal of a good description is to make it so that the reader can easily imagine what is being described. It should paint a vivid picture with words and evoke emotion. The best way to do this is by using all five senses- sight, sound, taste, touch and smell- but not too many at once or it could be overkill. The goal is not just to describe what something looks like or how it feels—it’s also about capturing the essence of that object or person with words alone!
Descriptive writing is a type of essay that allows the writer to use their senses and personal experiences to describe what they are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling. This type of essay can be used for many purposes like capturing an experience in detail or describing your favorite place.
Steps of Writing a Descriptive Essay
- Step one, pick a descriptive topic. Next, brainstorm several adjectives to describe your chosen subject. A good rule of thumb is five or six total words that evoke the most sense of what you are trying to portray in your writing (e.g., “rolling green hills,” “crumbling brick buildings”).
- Step two, find an example of how someone might write about this topic using these descriptors on Google Maps’ Street View feature – try not to use too many street view examples from other people’s essays so they don’t get repetitive! Create a list with any images that resonate with you as well as short descriptions for each photo; copy them into WordPad if possible.
- Step three, take your list of descriptors and start writing drafts for paragraphs in which you’re trying to evoke the qualities you found through Street View.
- Step four, keep tweaking these until they represent what you want to say as best they can – no sentence should be too long or short; try not to use more than three adjectives per paragraph. In order to check that all of your sentences are on topic, read over each one after it is written carefully enough times so that everything makes sense without reading them all at once (i.e., don’t skim).
- Step five, find a conclusion by using any predetermined words like “This essay has shown how” and outline an idea with two-three supporting points about how what you have written is relevant to your topic.
- Step six, if you’re using a template like the one in this post, type it up and send it off!
Tips for Writing a Descriptive Essay
- The most important step to take when writing a descriptive essay is determining your topic. This can be as broad as “what I did last weekend” or more specific, like “the first time I went to the zoo.”
- The next step is deciding how you want to write about it. For example, do you want to write about the sights and sounds? Or maybe describe what someone else was doing while they were there with you? It’s up to you! But once you figure out which path of detail works best for your story, it will be easier than ever before.
- Take breaks – Reread often enough that nothing seems unclear or repetitive; plan at least half an hour for each paragraph (a lot can be done in just five minutes).
- Fill out the essay outline as shown below with any predetermined words (e.g., “This essay has shown how”) when necessary. The more concisely everything is conveyed through sentences and paragraphs, the easier they will be to read later on and understand their purpose better. This also makes them less likely to seem disjointed or repetitive to the reader, and it’s easier to find specific information.
- Keep in mind what is being conveyed by using sentences that are short and declarative versus long explanations.
- Make sure you have examples for everything you write; if not, make up an example! It can be a little silly – but they will see how your point relates specifically and help break up any potential monotony.
Components of a Good Descriptive Paragraph
It’s not enough just to talk about how something looks like or smells, you need to describe the details and include sensory descriptions in order for readers to have an idea of what it would be like if they were there themselves.
There are many components that make up good descriptive paragraphs such as tone, point-of-view (POV), figurative language, word choice and setting.
An engaging introduction should start with an attention-grabbing opening line that will make readers want to continue reading on.
The goal for any paragraph is to make it as descriptive as possible so readers can feel like they are there; but writing a good sentence takes finesse. Here are some components of a descriptive paragraph:
- Emotion (how does this make you feel?)
- Detail (what do I see? hear? taste/smell etc.)
- Action (describe what’s happening) – Moods or feelings created by environment around character (e.g., anger, restlessness) or felt by protagonist while performing action(s). For example,
- What is the protagonist doing?
- How does it make you feel?
- Is there anything else happening in this paragraph that might affect mood or emotions, such as a flashback/memory or an event from another time period? If yes, describe what happened and why.
Descriptive Essay Outline, Template and Structure
Structure of a Descriptive Essay
- Title that is descriptive and concise – but also leaves some room for the reader to figure out what you’re talking about.
- Brief synopsis of the essay, preferably including one main point or a thesis statement to be proven by the examples given later on in each paragraph.
- A long introduction (/paragraph) where you provide background information if necessary (or make it up), introduce your topic and give an overview of its significance in terms of this particular subject matter. This section should have at least three sentences as well as any quotes which are relevant to your discussion. The more detail provided here, the better: include who said it, when they said it, why they may have said so and how we know they were right.
- A long, well-written and descriptive paragraph on the topic in question. This section should be between four to six sentences at least with an opening sentence that grabs your readers attention.
- A conclusion that sums up the information and tells readers what they have to do.
Template and Outline
Opening sentence that grabs the attention of reader with a quote or interesting fact and then transitions to subject.
Give an overview of significance in terms of this particular subject matter, including who said it (if relevant), when they said it, why they may have said so and how we know they were right.
Body Paragraph One – Introduce your topic and give a long paragraph on what you are writing about using vivid details – use at least four sentences, each containing one clear detail. The more detail provided here, the better: include who said it; when they said it; why they may have said so; how we know for sure that everything is true. Then end by summarizing what was just said – what did this writer say and why does the reader care to know?
Body Paragraph Two – Introduce your topic, give a long paragraph on what you are writing about using vivid details- use at least four sentences each containing one clear detail. The more detail provided here, the better: include who said it; when they said it; why they may have said so; how we know for sure that everything is true. Then end by summarizing what was just said – what did this writer say and why does the reader care to know?
List two takeaway points or takeaways from reading these three paragraphs of content (you can come back later and make them even longer).
20+ Sample Descriptive Essay Topics
- Describe a person or place in detail.
- What is something you have never told anyone before?
- Write about your life’s most defining moment so far. What did it feel like? How old were you and what happened next?
- Describe an object, listing its features for five minutes straight without stopping to take a breath (or pause). An example might be “My red bike has two white baskets on either side of the seat with metal handles that I can use to carry things around.” The goal of this exercise is to push yourself out of habitual language patterns.
- Describe a family member or significant other in detail.
- What is the most interesting place you have ever been? Write about it for five minutes without stopping to take a breath (or pause). What does it look like, smell like and feel like there? How do people act there?
- Tell us what happens when you are alone with your thoughts. Don’t stop writing until you’ve filled up at least one page of space.
- Write an essay that explains why something happened the way it did (a car accident, someone’s death), but be sure to tell enough information so that readers can understand both sides of the story. For example: “I was in my room after school on Tuesday waiting for Lizzy to text me back when I heard a huge crash. It sounded like something had fallen down the stairs and my mom came running in yelling about an accident.”
- What did you think when someone said “I love you” for the first time? Describe that moment of realization, from their point-of-view (try to use some dialogue).
- What does your favorite street smell like on summer nights after it rains? What’s so special about this one place that makes people want to keep coming back, even though they know it will just be there again tomorrow?”
- Discuss what happens when two different cultures are forced together through war or immigration. For example: “In 1989 Saddam Hussein ordered chemical weapons attacks against Kurdish villages near Halabja. This caused many Kurds to flee their homes and move closer to the border with Iran. The Kurds were a minority in Iraq, and Saddam’s government did not want them to think they would be safe if they moved out of the country.
- What are five things your protagonist does when faced with a difficult decision?
- Is there anything you know now that you wish someone had told you as an adolescent? What is it like being young and free from many responsibilities compared to adulthood?
- First date
- Moving away from home for the first time
- What it is like to be a teenager in today’s world.
- What have you learned from your failures and what are some mistakes people make when they’re feeling down?
- How does one know if they’ve found their true love?
- Describe a vacation spot, describing the landscape and any activities you might enjoy there.
- What is something that has affected your life recently? What happened and how did it change things for you or others around you?
- Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, which would be the most interesting to write about in detail from Act I-VIII (or whichever parts are relevant)? Why?
- Create an unusual recipe using 15 ingredients or less. Provide instructions on how to prepare each ingredient along with pictures of every step. Close by telling readers what type of dish they just created so they can go out into their kitchens and recreate this experience themselves!
Examples of Descriptive Essays
Descriptions should be sensory accurate, specific, detailed, rich or layered, and sensory. For example:
The hot, dry air of the summer’s day settled heavily on my skin. The weight was oppressive; sucking all moisture out of me. I felt like I couldn’t catch a breath in the suffocating heat as it beat down relentlessly from above.
This description is sensory accurate- even though we can’t feel what they are feeling due to our lack or their experience -we know how it feels because it’s clear that you’re describing an outward expression (weight) of what they might be feeling internally (suffocation). It also is specific by giving us one detail about where this event took place and when during those long summer days; rich with imagery through words such as “hot”, “dry”, etc.
Another good example of a descriptive essay is this essay on My Mother:
“I remember my mother’s voice before I knew what it was.
It is the sound of a rumbling engine, and when I hear it now, all these years later, my heart still races with excitement as if we are about to take off in an airplane. My earliest memories: her hands holding me up high so that I can see everything from on top of her shoulders; sitting in our little yellow boat while she rows through the water; lying next to each other at night until sleep finally takes over. That voice- rough around the edges like wind howling across sand dunes -is always there… telling us stories or singing songs for hours on end.
My Mother is my rock. She is the person who has seen me at my very worst and loved me through it. She is a woman of immense inner strength, who always seems to know just what I need before I do.
I am her daughter, but she is also my best friend.”
Another Good Example of How to Write a Descriptive Essay is “The Beach” by Ernest Hemingway (1927).
“In this essay about his favorite vacation spot, Mr. Hemingway does not go into great detail about the physical appearance of his beach but focuses more on how it makes him feel when he goes there; for example describing how happy he felt after going fishing or just sitting around reading books all day. He also leaves some room for the reader to make up their own mind about the beach by painting a few pictures of it which include how he heard the waves “breaking” on shore and smelling salt in the air. He then goes into detail about some people who visit his beach, namely an old man who sits around all day waiting for fish to bite or tourists looking for shells.”
Sample Descriptive Paragraph
“Fishing can be seen as one of life’s simple pleasures because it calls upon all our senses. There is nothing quite like the experience of pulling back on rod and feeling the tug against your hands. The sound of water rushing by below your boat might be just enough to soothe any anger away while casting out into open waters. Perhaps most importantly, the smell of a day spent on the water–the salty sea air mixed with an earthy wet soil scent that lingers in your hair and clothes.”
Get Your Descriptive Essay Done by an Academic Essay Writer
As you can see, descriptive essays are an excellent way to show your understanding of a subject and capture the essence of what it is like. You may want to write one for school or work in order to present new ideas more persuasively. It’s possible for you to get assignment help and check your text for plagiarism from Essay-writing.com, a company with over 17 years of experience in the writing business. It offers online proofreading services as well as professional editing by experts who know what they’re doing when it comes to grammar rules and style preferences. For those looking for essay rewriters, this is the place to be. You can also ask one of our writers or editors for free advice about any aspect related to essay writing such as how long should an intro be? What are some tips on structuring an outline? How many sources do I need per paragraph? If you want help finding out where all those great ideas came from, we offer content creation service too!