The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe something—object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc.
This genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom,the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader.
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.
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.
Here are some guidelines for writing a descriptive essay.
Take time to brainstorm
If your instructor asks you to describe your favorite food, make sure that you jot down some ideas before you begin describing it.
Choose a person to describe. One option for a topic is to describe a person that you know well in your life. This could be a family member like your mother or your father. It could also be a best friend, a coworker, or a mentor.
Use your senses!
Remember, if you are describing something, you need to be appealing to the senses of the reader. Explain how the thing smelled, felt, sounded, tasted, or looked. Embellish the moment with senses.
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.One of the best ways to show is to involve all of the senses—not just sight, but also hearing, touch, smell, and taste.
Pick a place or object to describe. Another option is to focus on a specific place or object that you have strong feelings about. This could be a place like your high school, your workplace, or your childhood home.
Choose vivid language.
Another take on this option is to write about a made up place or object, such as the fantastical school in your favorite book or the magic wand from your favorite TV show.
Use descriptive and figurative language, as well as concrete images to describe the subject.
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.
He was smart.
If you had to pick a study buddy, you would pick this guy.
Use clear and concise language.
This means that words are chosen carefully, particularly for their relevancy in relation to that which you are intending to describe.
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.
Select an emotion to describe.
Some descriptive essays are about an emotion that you connect to or relate to. You may choose a strong emotion like anger, loss, desire, or rage.
If you can describe emotions or feelings related to your topic, you will connect with the reader on a deeper level. Many have felt crushing loss in their lives, or ecstatic joy, or mild complacency. Tap into this emotional reservoir in order to achieve your full descriptive potential.
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.
Describe the topic with vivid adjectives. Use adjectives that express emotion.
It is easy to fall into an incoherent rambling of emotions and senses when writing a descriptive essay. However, you must strive to present an organized and logical description if the reader is to come away from the essay with a cogent sense of what it is you are attempting to describe.