A descriptive essay is is written just as the name implies. It is your description of an object, philosophy, person, place, or event. However, unlike an expository essay where you must stick with facts only, you can use opinions in an descriptive essay. For example, you might describe your favorite vacation in a descriptive essay.
While these aren’t the most challenging essays to write, as a general rule, there are potential pitfalls and best practices involved. Keep reading to learn more about how to write a descriptive essay.
Read The Assignment Instructions Thoroughly. This is the first and most important step. If you don’t understand the instructions, you risk picking a topic that isn’t acceptable to your instructor. Start with your rubric or assignment sheet first.
Brainstorm a Quick List of Topic Possibilities. Grab a pen and paper. Then start writing. Don’t censor or edit yourself. Just work on jotting down as many relevant ideas for a descriptive essay that you can. Keep writing for as long as possible. Chances are, you will find at least a few great ideas on that list.
Vet Out Each Idea. Before you make a final decision, think about each idea. Is it interesting? Will you be able to write an entire essay describing that topic? Does it relate to what you are covering in class?
Get Feedback From Others. Don’t get tunnel vision. Ask others for honest feedback on your topic ideas.
Consider Your Audience. Who is going to read your paper? Will your topic interest or impress them?
Balance Topic Complexity With Your Current Schedule. We get it. You want to impress your instructor by tacking a real complex and detailed topic. That’s great if you have the time to dedicate. However, if your schedule is too full, you might pick something a bit easier.
Apply The visualization Test. Reading a descriptive essay should be a sensory experience. Readers should be able to visualize what you describe. If you cannot describe your topic using sensory words, and cannot create a visual image of your topic, that’s not a good thing.
The more excited you are about your topic, the faster the writing process will go.
Don’t assume your reader can relate to your topic. Describe it thoroughly.
These essays are often easy to write. Be careful that this doesn’t lead to carelessness.
Consider using mind mapping instead of writing an outline. This is often more effective when creativity is required.
Using similes and metaphors can help paint a clear picture for your readers.
- Evoke as many senses as possible in your description
- Avoid adverbs
- Use a thesaurus to find great descriptive words
- Get a friend to read your first draft and make suggestions
- Be careful about spelling and grammar mistakes
- Use generic descriptive words such as good or nice
- Forget to show enthusiasm if it is appropriate
- Assume this is an easy assignment and wait until the last minute
- Blow off an opportunity to join a study group
- Forget about editing and proofreading
- Selecting a topic that is only interesting to you. Remember that you are supposed to write for your audience.
- Using visual descriptions only. Think about sounds, tactile experiences, tastes, and smells.
- Forgetting about the why. Tell your audience why something is your favorite or interesting to you.
- Including too few details. The details are what make the paper!
- Ignoring your intro and conclusion. Get readers interested right away and then wrap things up effectively!