Writing a descriptive essay is one of the many writing projects you will encounter throughout your school life. Not only is this essay required in high school and college, but it is also a very common requirement among students who major in Literature or English.
A good descriptive essay is a joy to read because of the colorful descriptions made possible through the use of good vocabulary. Writing this essay is also an enjoyable task because it gives you the ability to influence your readers. A descriptive essay appeals to a reader’s imagination and stimulates the senses. The better the descriptive paper is written, the more engaging it is for your reader.
While writing a descriptive essay is fun and fulfilling, it can also be challenging. Of course, completing this requirement helps you enhance your writing skills and your creative process. But it does not come easy. Not everyone has the time, the willingness, or the competencies to craft a well-written essay. Fortunately, learning more about this essay is a good stepping stone towards successfully writing a good descriptive essay. How do you write a descriptive essay? What are descriptive essay topics? What are the qualities of a descriptive essay? These are just a few of the question that likely crossed your mind. Here we look at the basics of this type of essay and discuss strategies for writing.
How to write a descriptive essay?
Anatomy of a Descriptive Essay
A descriptive essay can be considered as a general type of essay because its main purpose is to describe something. The topic of this write-up can be anything: people, objects, places, plants, animals, situations, experiences, and even abstract ideas. The most basic objective in writing this essay is to give your reader a strong impression of the thing you are describing. This means that you need to use language that activates your reader’s senses and imagination. For example, this essay describes sights, sounds, scents, flavors, and textures. But as we will come to understand later, a descriptive essay is not just about creating a mental picture of something; it’s also about describing other attributes that go beyond the physical or immediately obvious.
Like other types of academic writing, a descriptive essay should feature the main parts of an essay. In other words, the descriptive essay format is more or less the same as the format of other essays. Therefore, your work should cover the following:
The introduction should be attention-grabbing. A weak introduction is likely to bore your readers and discourage them from continuing. On the other hand, a good introduction should accomplish a number of tasks. First, it should provide background information on your topic. Second, it should explain why you are writing the essay in the first place. For example, if your topic is a new gadget, you should explain why your readers should care. Finally, your introduction should present your thesis statement. In the next section we will discuss the thesis a little more.
A thesis statement is the main idea, purpose, message, or argument of your descriptive essay. The thesis statement can be placed anywhere, but it is most effective when placed as the last sentence of the introduction. The thesis statement can be written in many ways, but most frequently it comes in the form of a declarative sentence. It should also be narrow enough that it specifies the main idea of your paper. Avoid writing a thesis that sounds unclear or uncertain.
The statement below is an example of a poor thesis statement:
“A tiramisu is a delicious dessert.”
This thesis is poorly-written for a number of reasons. First, it is a very plain statement. Second, it does not offer a preview of the discussion that will follow. Third, this statement does not engage the reader.
On the other hand, the statement below is more narrow and focused:
“A tiramisu is a light coffee-based dessert that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves richly-flavored treats.”
Notice how this thesis statement not only describes the topic well but also encourages the reader to read more. The reader is made to ask what makes tiramisu enjoyable, and this question becomes the motivation for reading the rest of your essay.
The body of the essay should support the argument made by your thesis statement. In it, you proceed with the description of the topic. This section should use illustrative language to enhance the descriptiveness of the paper. Creative use of adjectives, verbs, and adverbs will help. The use of literary techniques can also elevate the quality of your descriptions.
The last part of the descriptive essay is the conclusion. This contains the closing remarks of your descriptive essay. This part should restate the thesis, summarize the main points discussed in the body, and leave final thoughts. When leaving final thoughts, you may end your conclusion with a well-written statement, pose another question, or call to action.
What are the parts of a descriptive essay?
Contents of a Descriptive Essay
At this point, you’re already familiar with the main parts of a descriptive essay. But you might ask, what should be included in a descriptive essay. The answer is: it depends. The broad nature of the descriptive essay allows for many topics, but topics are described differently. Therefore, it is important for you to study the topic carefully. Once you have a topic, think about what makes the topic unique. What are its most essential qualities? What makes it unique or purposeful or important? What do you think the reader should know about your topic? Some of the most important contents of the essay should cover the following:
- Physical Attributes. The most common aspect featured in a descriptive essay is physical attributes. These refer to the qualities that can be appreciated by the senses. These include the topic’s appearance, sounds that it makes, textures that can be felt, and scents or tastes that it gives off. For example, if you are writing a descriptive essay about your city, you should describe the city’s characteristics. Is it a colorful city? A noisy city? Are there are lot of people? What do you encounter when you walk the streets? Use your power of observation and write about the city in a way that stimulates your reader’s imagination.
- Traits and Characteristics. A descriptive essay may also feature traits and characteristics. These refer to the qualities of the topic. There’s more to your topic than just its physical attributes. For example, suppose that your topic is a person such as your friends. You must remember that a person is not just flesh; a person also has personal qualities that can be observed. Thus, if you are writing a descriptive essay about a person, then it’s wise for you to describe this person’s unique qualities. Is the person fun to be with? Is he or she kind and compassionate? What makes this person stand out? The same goes for other topics. For instance, if you’re writing about a given animal, you can highlight this animal’s habits. Even non-living things can be described using more abstract qualities. A city, for instance, can be described as vibrant while an old house can be described as reclusive or foreboding.
- Function or Purpose. Also important to feature in the paper is the aspect concerning function or purpose. This attribute is usually covered when writing about objects that are designed to operate in a certain way. For example, a descriptive essay about a new smartphone model should include aspects such as new features and capacities. Ask yourself the question: what makes this smartphone a smartphone? Is the battery longer-lasting than previous models? How about the display? Is the design better? What makes it a great choice or a poor choice?
A descriptive essay may include all of these qualities or more. As stated earlier, it all depends on your topic and what you want to highlight. Make sure that you scale the content according to the length and complexity of your paper. Do not try to cover too much ground if your paper is quite short. Also do not try to be too complicated if you’re explaining to an audience unfamiliar with your topic.
Importance of Language
While the format of the descriptive essay and its usual contents are important, it is crucial for you to learn the importance of using language well. Knowing how to write a descriptive essay involves mastery of usual tips on how to write a good essay. However, for descriptive essay writing, you must practice a lot to enhance your skills and develop your creativity. Your aim is to capture the reader’s imagination and describe your subject as clearly as possible. Your memory, writing creativity, and senses need to be in top shape. Since you cannot show your reader a picture, words must be powerful enough to convince and help them create the images, smells, tastes, sounds, textures, and emotions in their head. When it comes to describing less physical and more abstract details such as traits, characteristics, function, or purpose, choose the right word. Use of literary techniques stimulates the reader’s interest and imagination.
Consider this example of how creativity makes writing better:
“Night arrived and we got scared.”
This example is too plain and does not really help the reader imagine the situation.
“The arrival of dusk drowned us in a sea of fear.”
This is much better and descriptive than the previous statement. Notice how the use of a metaphor invoked anxiety caused by the vastness of the sea. Darkness and the sea are different, but the metaphor that compares them is both creative and effective.
Creative use of language should also include the complex interaction between different attributes. Do not just limit yourself to describing individual aspects. Try to write about how two or more aspects can complement one another or create a more dynamic effect. See the sentence below for an example:
“The flash of colorful lights flooded the street and the warm earthy scent of roasted chestnuts blended with the cold air of the night. Fragments of a festive melody wended through the crowd, suggesting that somewhere, in some side street perhaps, someone is playing a happy song. I look at the sky, and I realized that indeed it is a joyous time to be alive.”
See how the example provided blends different imagery to create a mood that the reader could feel. When writing a descriptive essay, do not be afraid to use language creatively.
Help in Writing Descriptive Essay
At this point, you probably already know what a descriptive essay is and how to write a descriptive essay. But knowing the strategies for better writing is different from applying them. This means you cannot be faulted if you still find it difficult to craft a well-written descriptive essay. Writing is mastered through years of practice and not everyone excels at it. With this in mind, remember that you can always ask for help from professionals. Don’t feel embarrassed about wanting to pay for a descriptive essay or even consulting a descriptive essay writing service. After all, you are still human and not a robot. Collaborating with a professional writer can help you come up with a descriptive essay that meets your needs.