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How to Write a Descriptive Essay in Three Easy Steps

how to write a descriptive essay

From one point, a descriptive essay seems like the easiest assignment you can have. From the other, you have so many options that you can get stuck at the very first step. Get unstuck with our guide on how to write a descriptive essay.

Stage One: Preparations

Before you actually get to writing, you need to make preparations so the whole creative process will be fun and easy. So, do the following:

1) Pick an engaging topic.

You are free to describe anything you want. Just think of a person, place or experience, and you have a topic for your paper. This can make any student, used to strict confinements of academic writing, a little bit dizzy. Don’t worry – here are some ideas to help you navigate the vast sea of ideas:

Choose something you are familiar with or have experienced.

It’s okay if you want to unleash your creative powers and describe the experience of free falling before the parachute opens, but you probably won’t be super-accurate if you have never jumped with a parachute.

Describe a pleasing experience or picture.

Though the description of grim occurrences and tragedies can be even more powerful than of happy ones, we advise you to stick to pleasant memories in your essay. Or at least to the memories of an ordeal that turned out fine – this will give your readers a sense of catharsis.

Connect it to a bigger issue.

It’s not a cardinal rule, rather a piece of friendly advice. For sure, you can pick a red apple as the topic of your essay and ruminate for five long paragraphs about its redness – who are we to forbid. But we recommend you to connect the issue you are describing to something bigger in the moral sense. If you want a challenge, you can actually pick an apple and connect a description of the fruit to the question of how we humans, see color and shape. In short, the best way on how to write a descriptive essay is to have something to say.

2) Create a thesis statement.

Now, this one is tricky. What kind of statement can a descriptive essay have? You don’t need to argue or prove something here! Don’t be afraid of creating a thesis for your descriptive essay. And here are a few guidelines to help you:

  • It is descriptive. “My room looks like an enchanted palace at night” is a fine thesis statement.
  • It doesn’t have to be controversial or arguable, since you are conveying your perception of the thing or person.
  • Make it embellished and beautiful to lure your readers into further investigation (hint: not like the one in the example before, but much more embellished and intriguing).

3) Prepare the senses.

If you are not writing fiction stories on a regular basis, and we are assuming you’re not, you probably lack the expressive vocabulary when it comes to senses. How often do we give specific descriptions of taste, color and smell that go beyond “delicious,” “bright” and “nice?” For your descriptive essay, however, you need to shower your reader with sensory information to create a realistic picture in their heads. Try these tips:

  • Use the good old thesaurus for more expressive synonyms.
  • Read commercial descriptions of the goods associated with the sense you need to focus on (e.g. go to a website selling perfume for more smell synonyms).
  • Concentrate on your own senses while experiencing the thing to come up with unique metaphors and comparisons.

Stage Two: Writing

When all the preparations are done, it’s time to get to writing. How to Start a Descriptive Essay to Keep Readers Interest? All in all, when talking about how to write a descriptive essay, there’s no better way than by actually sitting down and writing one. Pick a notebook and let us lead you throughout the creative process step-by-step.

1) Structure your essay.

To prevent your essay from becoming an incomprehensible haywire of thoughts, structure it using one of these two ways of organizing a descriptive paper:

  • chronologically
  • from general to specific

If you are describing an event or an experience, the chronological method of structuring is your choice. Clearly, it won’t work for something static, such as a place or thing, unless you are willing to commit to researching and finding out what it was like 200 years ago, so in this case you should use the deductive description method.

2) Write a strong introduction.

Remember that this is your one and only chance to make the first impression. Start with a bang, or with something spectacular to catch your reader’s eye. Your introduction should make your reader question what is going to happen next or what you are talking about. Remember to use a hook to lure your readers into further investigation.

3) Write topic sentences and follow them with body paragraphs.

Descriptive essays are specific pieces of writing, because they rarely contain any kind of plot – that is implied in the name of this academic paper. However, our brains need plot. To make your readers stay concentrated throughout your paper, start each paragraph as you would start any argumentative essay – with a topic sentence. Follow it with further detailed descriptions that form the body paragraph.

4) Embellish your text with sensory details.

The main purpose of a descriptive essay is to immerse your reader into the picture you are describing to such an extent that he or she can almost see it. No doubt this is quite a challenge, but it can become easier if you use figurative language, such as metaphors, comparisons, and expressive adjectives.

5) Conclude the essay.

If you remember, we said your description essay should convey some kind of message more complicated than “I see an apple, and it’s red.” This is where your more complicated thought steps in. Connect the experience, thing, or person to a powerful message for a splendid ending for your essay. For example, if you are describing your hometown, you can say how it will always be a special place of peace in your heart (most non-trivial example ever).

Stage Three: Finalizing

This stage is well-known as proofreading. Though rereading your paper while looking for mistakes doesn’t sound like the best way to spend your time, you definitely shouldn’t overlook this stage, but we know you will. Still, here are some suggestions on effective proofreading:

Read your paper out loud or record yourself.
Highlight figurative language and any metaphors you used – it’s a good visualization that will help you understand whether you should add some more beautiful language or if it is enough.
Give your essay to a trusted friend for feedback.

We hope that now you know how to write a descriptive essay step-by-step. Stay tuned and read our blog for more information on essay writing, useful guides, awesome writing topics, and sample papers.Also, contact us to receive a completed essay for you.

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