Author: Maurice B. Morey | Designation: Arts Paper Writing Service Supervisor | Date Published: 13, June 2010
A description essay is used to describe something. These essays are used to provide a vivid picture of a person, a place, an object, an event or a debate. This is the only type of essay that might not require facts and estimates. A descriptive essay should provide information that makes a reader think and feel of what is being told in the essay. Rather than just providing data, the descriptive essay describes a thing, a location, a picture or an event using the way a writer think and feel about the subject or topic. Instead of using facts and statistics the description essays use observations and situations to make the reader imagine of the situation and feeling.
One of the simplest ways to write a descriptive essay is to just sit down and write what you see and understand from any particular place, event or a person. This is to make a reader show what actually you are talking about. The descriptive essay writing uses the technique of generating the feel of what actually happened, experienced, felt and perceived. This could be a narration of what you see, touch, think, taste and smell in a case which you are describing. The main aim should be to provide a complete picture in terms of description rather than facts and figures
Since writing a descriptive essay requires a little bit of imagination and writing skills, it would be ideal to follow some guidelines before writing one. The first point that you need to keep in mind is to show the readers what you have experienced, not what you have collected from research or from facts and figures. It should be an observation oriented description that makes the reader imagine and feel. You can ask some questions yourself before you write the description essay like deciding exactly what or who you are describing about, your reasons to write about it and the experiences or observations you have made on the qualities of the person or incident that you want to describe about. You should also determine what senses are you going to concentrate on and how can you engage your visitors by making them understand what you have experienced or perceived. It is very important to identify the words that can engage your visitors in what you are describing in your description and use them appropriately. There should be an effective order in telling different aspects of a person, a place or a thing to effectively recreate the same feeling in your readers. You should also avoid unnecessary information and each paragraph should focus on a single aspect.
The language you use in the descriptive essay you write should be more of imaginative and metaphorical language than of scientific data. You should remember that your description essay should neither be scientific nor factual always, it could be opinions. You can always endeavor to write and explain what you desire. It gives you the freedom to explain you observation, but that could be a problem if you don’t do it well. Remember to describe what you observe and feel actually and always include concrete and abstract images and ideas. It is quite common for students and inexperience writer to use adjectives and adverbs more than necessary by the misconception that they make observation more attractive. You should limit the no. of adverbs and adjectives to where it is necessary. This is the case with similes and metaphors, if overused they can also make your essay unclear and difficult to interpret. You should also make sure you follow the structure of a normal essay in the case of description essay too by making someone else read and suggest the mistakes in your essay.
The descriptive essay should also provide an idea of what aspects of a person, a place, a thing or an event are described in your essay and the conclusion should reiterate the introduction.
Tips on Writing a Descriptive Essay
Writers use the descriptive essay to create a vivid picture of a person, place, or thing. Unlike a narrative essay, which reveals meaning through a personal story, the purpose of a descriptive essay is to reveal the meaning of a subject through detailed, sensory observation. The descriptive essay employs the power of language and all the human senses to bring a subject to life for the reader.
If readers come away from a descriptive essay with the feeling that they have really met a person, gone to a particular place, or held a certain object, the writer has done a good job. If readers also feel an emotional connection and deep appreciation for the subject’s significance, the writer has done a great job.
The Five-Step Writing Process for Descriptive Essays
Professional writers know one thing: Writing takes work. Understanding and following the proven steps of the writing process helps all writers, including students. Here are descriptive essay writing tips for each phase of the writing process:
1. Prewriting for the Descriptive Essay
In the prewriting phase of descriptive essay writing, students should take time to think about who or what they want to describe and why. Do they want to write about a person of significance in their lives, or an object or place that holds meaning? The topic doesn’t have to be famous or unusual. The person could be a grandparent, the object, a favorite toy, and the place, a tree house.
Once a topic is chosen, students should spend time thinking about the qualities they want to describe. Brainstorm about all the details associated with the topic. Even when not writing about a place, reflect on the surroundings. Where is the object located? Where does the person live? Consider not just physical characteristics, but also what memories, feelings, and ideas the subject evokes. Memory and emotion play an important role in conveying the subject’s significance. Plan the focus of each paragraph and create an outline that puts these details into a logical sequence.
2. Drafting a Descriptive Essay
When creating the initial draft of a descriptive essay, follow the outline, but remember, the goal is to give the reader a rich experience of the subject. Keep in mind, the most important watchword of writing a descriptive essay is show, don’t tell. One of the best ways to show is to involve all of the senses—not just sight, but also hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Write so the reader will see the sunset, hear the song, smell the flowers, taste the pie, or feel the touch of a hand.
Use descriptive and figurative language, as well as concrete images to describe the subject. Similes and metaphors work well. Here are some examples:
The house was old.
The house frowned with a wrinkled brow, and inside it creaked with each step, releasing a scent of neglected laundry.
If you had to pick a study buddy, you would pick this guy.
The clock had been in our family for years.
The clock stood by our family, faithfully marking the minutes and hours of our lives.
Enjoy the process of describing the subject—it can be a rewarding experience. A descriptive essay doesn’t rely on facts and examples, but on the writer’s ability to create a mental picture for the reader.
3. Revising a Descriptive Essay
In the revision phase, students review, modify, and reorganize their work with the goal of making it the best it can be. In revising a descriptive essay, students should reread their work with these considerations in mind:
- Does the essay unfold in a way that helps the reader fully appreciate the subject? Do any paragraphs confuse more than describe?
- Does the word choice and figurative language involve the five senses and convey emotion and meaning?
- Are there enough details to give the reader a complete picture?
- Has a connection been made between the description and its meaning to the writer? Will the reader be able to identify with the conclusion made?
Always keep the reader in mind from opening to concluding paragraph. A descriptive essay must be precise in its detail, yet not get ahead of itself. It’s better to go from the general to the specific. Otherwise, the reader will have trouble building the image in their mind’s eye. For example, don’t describe a glossy coat of fur before telling the reader the essay is about a dog!
4. Editing a Descriptive Essay
At this point in the writing process, writers proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics. It’s also the time to improve style and clarity. Watch out for clichés and loading up on adjectives and adverbs. Having a friend read the essay helps writers see trouble spots and edit with a fresh perspective.
5. Publishing a Descriptive Essay
Sharing a descriptive essay with the rest of the class can be both exciting and a bit scary. Remember, there isn’t a writer on earth who isn’t sensitive about his or her own work. The important thing is to learn from the experience and take whatever feedback is given to make the next essay even better.
Time4Writing Teaches Descriptive Essay Writing
Time4Writing essay writing courses offer a highly effective way to learn how to write the types of essays required for school, standardized tests, and college applications. A unique online writing program for elementary, middle school, and high school students, Time4Writing breaks down the writing process into manageable chunks, easily digested by young writers. Students steadily build writing skills and confidence, guided by one-on-one instruction with a dedicated, certified teacher. Our middle school Welcome to the Essay and Advanced Essay courses teach students the fundamentals of writing well-constructed essays, including the descriptive essay. The high school Exciting Essay Writing course focuses in depth on the essay writing process with preparation for college as the goal. The courses also cover how to interpret essay writing prompts in testing situations. Read what parents are saying about their children’s writing progress in Time4Writing courses.