How to write a descriptive essay?


Every student has their own problem area when it comes to essay writing. Some find it difficult to critically analyze a topic, while others might struggle with grammar. As a student, I found it really tough to write descriptive essays. 

Today we will talk about at art and process of writing a descriptive essay. One of the biggest reasons why I hated descriptive essays is because one had to show and not tell the specific characteristics of person or animal or event or experience or any inanimate object. Instead of saying ‘My Grandma is sweet’, I had to describe the qualities and traits of my grandmother that made her sweet.

Lets jump in to the world of descriptive essays and see how it’s done:

  1. Familiarize yourself with basic principles of Descriptive essays:  The whole idea of descriptive essay is to develop the skill of describing a thing or a event or a person with vivid sensory details. It’s all about painting a picture or recreating a memory instead of just saying things out loud. Once you have fine tuned your mind to focus on showing things rather than telling about it, you have made a start towards writing a good descriptive essay.
  2. Choose a topic and thesis statement: If you are not provided with a topic, explore your options and choose a topic which you can vividly recollect through sense of sound, vision, taste, smell and touch for eg: your house, your vacation etc. Every descriptive essay needs to have a thesis statement that highlights your feelings and opinion about a particular thing, person or experience. For eg: I love my house.The aforementioned line is a thesis statement as it clearly underlines your feelings about your house. A thesis statement conveys the basic motto of your essay and gives you clear idea of what to include and what to exclude from the essay.
  3. Create a sensory chart: Sensory chart? What’s that? It is nothing but dividing your memory of person, place or event in terms of 5 senses. Take paper and draw 5 columns, and name those columns as sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Keeping the topic and thesis statement in mind, divide your memory of the topic in terms of vision, sound, taste, touch, smell and fill in the columns accordingly. This helps you to organize all the sensory details that you know about the topic and reduces the chances of missing out important characteristics.
  4. Create a 5 paragraph outline: A descriptive essay is generally made of 5 paragraphs: Intro, 3 body paras and conclusion. The intro para should have hook to attract reader’s attention as well as thesis statement. The 3 body paras should contain the sensory description of the topic in such a way that it supports the thesis statement. The concluding para should reinstate the thesis statement.  
  5. Write the essay in organized way so that it makes sense: One of the biggest mistake which students make in writing a descriptive essay is undermining the importance of flow of the essay. If your descriptive essay is about an incident, then there should be a chronological flow to your writing. If your descriptive essay is about a place or person, then organize the information flow from being general to specific. Organizing your essay improves it readability and keeps the reader engaged.
  6.  Use poetic tools and devices to paint a picture: Since you can’t tell but show and since it is all about painting an image with words, it is very important to make the sensory descriptions colorful and vivid. Use literary tools like adjectives, metaphors, similes and poetic license to write a wonderful descriptive essay.
  7. Review and edit: Last but not the least, review your essay to edit out spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, unnecessary details to create an organized, free flowing descriptive essay.

In closing, I would like to say that practice makes a man perfect. If descriptive essay gives you nightmares, then it’s time for you to start practicing writing descriptive essays.


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