Jul 11, 2018 in How to Write an Essay
How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Those who know how to write a descriptive essay understand that elements such as the descriptive essay structure, descriptive words that engage the five senses. Descriptive details help the reader to understand your experiences. Thus, if you can create a descriptive image that places the reader in the setting of the descriptive narrative essay, you will succeed.

How to Choose a Descriptive Essay Topic

To start, this is a good place to provide a descriptive essay definition. This type of paper involves focusing on a single event, person, location or item. You could discuss your favorite childhood memory while spending summers at your grandparents'. Or you could discuss an celebrity who inspires you. Perhaps you took a dream vacation to Malta and would like to share the experience with others. Of course, as you go about writing it, your job is not merely to tell the reader what you experienced, but show them. For instance, if you are writing about yourself, you want to use a descriptive phrase about yourself that creates vivid images in the mind of the reader. Note that if you are writing about an event, you should arrange your paragraphs chronologically. If discussing a person or place, start with generalities before gradually becoming more specific. No matter what you choose, it should be relevant to the reader or, at the very least, they should be persuaded that it is important enough for them to read.

How to Start a Descriptive Essay Introduction Paragraph

Another important element if you want to know how to create a descriptive essay is to write a good opening paragraph. If you want to capture the attention of the audience, you obviously need to know how to start a descriptive essay introduction paragraph. A good introduction achieves two important objectives:

  1. It provides background information. The audience might only have some vague idea about the topic or might not understand its significance. The introduction helps provide them insight that will serve them well for the remainder of the paper.
  2. It hooks the audience. You want the reader to have a compelling reason to read the paper. Include descriptive language and engage the audience with witty quotes or powerful citations from well-regarded authorities on the topic.

Advice for Creating a Good Descriptive Essay Thesis Statement

If you want to develop a thesis that the reader can follow, you should follow these three rules:

  • Keep it brief and concise
  • Make sure it is something that is focused since it creates a foundation for the paper
  • It should be a statement that can be supported with evidence.

A descriptive essay obviously differs from a research paper in which you do not have to back up your argument with actual scientific evidence. Nonetheless, you should be able to make your points in an objective manner. For instance, if you are writing a profile essay on a person, you should be able to explain why they are such a compelling figure using antidotes about their life and not simply state that it is true because you merely say so. Ultimately, thinking of a good thesis statement will become easier with practice. 

How to Write a Conclusion for a Descriptive Essay

If you want to know how to end a descriptive essay, follow these recommendations:

  • Discuss how you are personally effected by the topic of your descriptive story
  • Reaffirm your thesis statement
  • Provide a brief summary of the main points of the paper
  • Engage the audience and explain why what they read should matter to them.

Keep in mind that the conclusion is what will remain in the mind of the reader, so you definitely want to leave a lasting impression, such as a call to action or information on how the reader can have their own personal experience related to your topic.

How to Write an Outline

A lot of students neglect writing the outline because they consider it unnecessary. But it really can make a difference, especially if you want to keep the paper focused and structured. If you use the outline as a guide while writing your paper, you are going to be less inclined to find yourself off track. When writing a descriptive essay outline about a place, person or event, your descriptive speech or essay remember the following steps:

  1. Gather all of the materials that you will use for your descriptive paper.
  2. Synthesize all of the information so that it reads like one seamless descriptive article and not a collection of disjointed paragraphs.
  3. Follow the descriptive essay format of introduction, body, and conclusion and make sure all of the ideas are linked. Most of the time you will be asked to write a 5-paragraphs essay, although a 3-paragraphs essay is possible if you are in middle school or high school and learning about descriptive writing techniques for the first time.

How to Convey the Five Senses Through Descriptive Writing Pattern

Let us discuss how to list things in an essay. In this particular case, the senses. To ensure that the reader is getting a full sensory experience, you need to define a sensory details list. First, create five separate columns with each of the senses – taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. This will allow you to properly organize your thoughts as you write about the person, event, place or idea. Once you have organized the columns, fill each one out with details that back up your thesis. Make sure to use the most interesting experiences as this will keep the reader glued to the paper. For instance, if you are writing about a wonderful experience by the sea, you could discuss the scent of coconut tanning oil or the smell of the salt in the air (smell), the sparkling water (sight), the sound of dance music in the background (sound), the feel of the cool sand between your toes (touch) and the taste of the tropical cocktail in your hand (taste). Using metaphors, personification and adjectives is also essential. 

How to Review Your Essay

If you have finished your first draft, it means you have a better understanding on how to create a descriptive essay and in particular can answer the question, “What is a descriptive essay paragraph?” However, you are not entirely done. While it is tempting to want to submit the paper as is, you will want to do some editing. This is not about just clicking on the spellcheck button either (although you will do that later); you want to give the paper a thorough review word by word, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph. No matter how perfect a paper might seem, there are always ways in which they can be improved. It could be through restating something in another way, replacing a particular description with something more vivid or witty, or condensing certain narratives while expanding others. 

You would not want to do it right away though; step away from your paper overnight and look it over the next day. When you have gotten up, your fresh pair of eyes will serve you well. By reading the paper as a whole, you should be able to catch mistakes related to the flow and structure of the paper. You might also discover that something written at 2am no longer makes sense when you have a chance to look at it after rest. Also, it is important to read the paper aloud since something that is written on paper might suddenly sound disorganized and choppy orally. Better yet, read it to a family member or friend to get their feedback. Remember that you want the reader to be able to place themselves in your shoes and get a full experience of your feelings and emotions just through your words. You should also ponder a few questions:

  • Will the reader be able to make sense of this?
  • Did you provide enough detail and context? After all, things can be totally misinterpreted if it lacks context. 
  • Should you expand information in certain parts and eliminate unnecessary details at other points? 
  • Does everything tie back to the thesis?
  • Does the paper contain run-on sentences or short, abrupt comments?
  • Did you use proper transitions to ensure a smoothly flowing paper?
  • Does the paper adhere to the correct formatting style guidelines?
  • If you used outside sources, did you cite them properly? 

Did you use informal language or clichés? Your paper is meant to be academic, so make sure your word usage is appropriate. 

How to Proofread

Now that the content has been looked through, the final step is to make sure your grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct. Note that while spellcheck can catch misspelled words, it cannot determine whether you chose the right words (i.e., when you write “effect” when you meant “affect.”) Once you have gone through this process, you are ready to turn in your paper and get a good grade!

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