Essays are common educational assignments in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. A descriptive essay is a writing copy that encourages the student’s ability to create a written copy of a particular experience. A descriptive essay is considered to be one of the simplest types of academic papers. Nevertheless, a descriptive essay is usually viewed by teachers as an assessment tool, and, therefore, it is often found in various exam formats.
What Is a Descriptive Essay?
In general terms, the descriptive essay definition implies a short written copy that provides information. This type of paper does not imply defending the author’s point of view or building a complex argument system. The purpose of any descriptive essay is to describe an object, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc., and clarify it to the reader. A descriptive essay only provides facts without any information processing. Simultaneously, this paper usually refers to five human senses, such as touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight.
When writing this type of academic paper, a student should know the difference between a simple description and a descriptive essay. The standard description can have one or several paragraphs without following academic requirements. The key point to write an excellent descriptive essay is to provide information on a fairly general topic based on available facts and a specific five-paragraph structure. Unlike narrative and expository essays, descriptive essays may not have any moral, lesson, or general conclusion.
How to Choose a Topic for a Descriptive Essay?
Before choosing an essay topic, you need to understand the purpose of your writing. A descriptive essay is intended to explain a particular issue to the reader. In the descriptive essay, the central theme should be presented in a balanced way. Unnecessary facts and various details have to be omitted. Also, personal stories and real-life events are not supported in this type of essay. This genre allows for a great deal to demonstrate artistic freedom, as its goal is to paint a vivid and clear image in the reader’s mind.
The author has to focus on the picture. Your task is to choose a topic that has many exciting sides or features to discuss. If you do not have a really vivid imagination, you might be confused about writing a lot about something as simple as a kitchen teapot. Finding a topic for your descriptive essay is not a big challenge. It would be better first to analyze several descriptive essay ideas and finally choose one of them. You can describe anything from your favorite car brand to spring weather.
Your instructor may offer you a particular topic, allow you to choose a topic from the list, or let you select an issue with an improvement. After choosing a specific topic, evaluate it by how meaningfully you can reveal it. Perhaps, the intended topic can be too broad. In this case, you need to narrow the subject in the given direction. Consider whether you can present interesting observations and ideas on this topic and surprise the reader with your reasoning and expression.
The Issues That Could Be Described In Your Essay
When choosing an issue to describe, it is not the exact formulation of the essential topic but an understanding of the problem’s essence and the potential for its solution. You need to communicate specific facts and disclose them using evidence. This will help you in the matter of how to write a descriptive essay. However, you do not need to prove your point of view. Instead, you just have to describe something. You are not required to describe personal emotions — it can be an observation or reasoning.
Pay attention to the main purpose when you are writing a descriptive essay. This type of paper for delivery to a high school teacher will differ significantly from a copy submitted for being admitted to a university, a literary club, or for employment in a media holding. Therefore, you need to understand what the person who will read your essay expects from you. Depending on expectations, your descriptive essay can manifest the originality of your thinking, professional skills, ability to reason competently, or something else.
You can depict someone you know well, such as a family member, friend, coach, etc. A descriptive essay about a person can even be about a celebrity about whom you can find sufficient information in the media. Famous and fictional superheroes can also be interesting to describe, both from both academic and non-academic perspectives. What can be descriptive essay topics? Your description can range from a simple depiction of the person’s appearance to the more complex narrations of actions, behavior, and moral qualities of the person you choose.
You can also describe a place or object with which you have a special connection. It could be your house, school, or even a fictional garden. Your reader should feel the impressive beauty or historical value of the chosen place or object. When writing a descriptive essay about a place, think about your emotions associated with that spot and turn them into writing. For example, it can be a descriptive essay about the beach or village. If you write about your recent trip to another city, you can tell about your experience. Your readers should feel as if they were there.
If you want to describe an event, you will first need to provide some details about it. It could be your trip during your last vacation, a live concert by your favorite artist, a birthday party, a music festival, and so on. If you are writing about a specific event, you should summarize what was going on that day and explain how this event impressed you and why it mattered to you. In doing so, you must not forget that your reader will need to understand and share your impressions.
For the persuasiveness of your descriptive essay, you can use a variety of sources. These can be quotes, statistics, and various summaries. Informational sources should cover the entire topic and should also be reliable. Traditionally, books and scientific journals are the best sources. Scientific, government, and other trusted websites, newspaper articles, and magazine posts are also good choices. Some teachers allow the use of encyclopedias, but as you get to a higher level in essay writing, these sources tend to be limited as they can be considered too general.
Two Classic Approaches to the Descriptive Essay
After you have decided what you will write about, think about how you want to do it. Some students like to describe objects, places, and people picturesquely. Others are inclined to analyze events, thirds love to write about personal impressions, and fourths prefer to criticize what they do not like. Depending on this, your descriptive essay can be subjective, analytical, reflective, critical, etc. Typically, there are two main approaches to writing a descriptive essay, namely:
1. Personalized Approach
In the descriptive essay with a personalized approach, you can focus on your experience, feelings, and reaction. Such a paper is more likely to awake compassion and empathy in your readers. However, this essay can turn to be imprecise and disorganized. Thus, you should try to focus only on those aspects that most fully convey your experience. If you want to write a good essay, do not deviate from creating a vivid and bright picture of the object, person, event, etc.
Examples of descriptive essays with a personalized approach can be:
- Describing your experience of climbing on a high mountain;
- Depicting your favorite movie or novel and its impression on you;
- Recalling an important social event and its effect on your worldview.
2. Formal Approach
In the descriptive essay with a formal approach, your primary goal is presenting a set of crucial points of something or somebody. You will have to write a paper according to a clear structure and mention as many details as possible. In this way, your copy will look like an argumentative essay. You can use specific information to provide the fullest possible picture of what you describe without focusing too much on your own experience. However, you can make your essay too formal and dull for reading.
The topics for descriptive essays with a formal approach can include:
- Depicting of climate change effects or reasons of social events;
- Presenting facts about the recent presidential elections;
- Describing the place where historical events took place in the past.
Descriptive Essay Outline
A structured outline of your essay will not only help you organize your thoughts, but it will also make your paper better. Before you start working on your copy, you need to think about what and how you will write. Although you do not have to provide arguments, you still need to know what you will describe in advance. The structure of a descriptive essay is usually the same as a regular essay has. Speaking about the descriptive essay format, this paper usually has five or more paragraphs — introduction, at least three sections of the main part, and conclusion.
How to start a descriptive essay? Since any essay is intended to arouse the reader’s interest, you need to tell something essential, valuable, or even controversial in the first lines of your introduction. It can be a shocking statistic about a particular burning issue, intrigue about an unusual incident, a funny story, etc. In this way, you should immediately clarify what your essay will be about. Write a little foreword on the topic and present your central thesis. The thesis in a descriptive essay should not contain any arguments or controversial points of view.
Move from the intro to the main body using one or two sentences. The main points mentioned in the beginning of your description essay should be directly related to the first sentence of each paragraph of the main body. For example, you can describe the main ideas revealed in an essay or invite the reader to take a closer look at the topic. In the main part of the paper, you can provide supporting evidence for the thesis and analyze the collected details. You can use statistical information, interviews, statements of famous personalities, etc.
Moving from one sentence to the next should be logical and smooth. In the first sentence of your closing paragraph, you should rephrase your thesis in light of the evidence provided in the main body. Here, you are also recommended to summarize the basic ideas, complete the paper with a specific statement, call the reader to some action, or pose a relevant question. For example, you might encourage your readers to think about possible ways to develop a social culture based on recent events.
Descriptive Essay Examples
Although a descriptive essay is a commonly assigned and most opted-for type of academic paper, many students have problems with it, especially when they need to do this kind of assignment for the first time. You can take a look at several written examples here:
Descriptive Essay Writing Tips
- Search for information on the topic and take notes before starting your descriptive essay. Once you decide what to write in your essay about, do research and find the information you need for the chosen topic. When reading various sources, take notes of all relevant facts. Before you start working on your essay, take a piece of paper and write down the main ideas.
- Use your senses. If you think you are strong in describing your feelings and emotions, be sure to appeal to the reader’s senses. If you can describe your emotions or feelings related to the topic, you will connect with the reader on a deeper level. Embellish your descriptive essay with relevant sensitive and strong words.
- Organize your thoughts before writing your essay and follow the outline. Start with general information and add unique details then. Your task is to find the best methods to describe your chosen subject in such a way as to convey a vivid picture to the reader in a concise manner.
- Use vivid, clear, and concise language. This means that your words should be chosen carefully, particularly for their relevance in relation to the topic to describe. Thorough choice of words can unleash your full descriptive potential and form a stable image in the reader’s mind.
- Be sure to leave the reader with a good impression of your descriptive essay. Try to evoke a strong sense of awareness and familiarity in the reader. If your reader can manage to feel the same as you did, you are on your way to creating a perfect descriptive essay.
- Be organized. When you write a descriptive essay using a personalized approach, you can easily fall into the rambling chaos of your feelings. Thus, try to make an organized, detailed, and logical description of something or somebody.
- Practice makes perfect. If you have time, think about something amazing that happened to you recently or develop a story from scratch. Try to write a story with a few details, only with the bare facts. Read what you have written and think about how the reader will perceive it. If necessary, replace neutral words with more emotional ones, as well as use more epithets, metaphors, and comparisons.
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