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How to Write a Good Descriptive Essay

Posted on February 16th, 2016 Essay Writing
book on the beach with sea on background

A descriptive essay is very different from an argumentative essay or an analytical essay. It’s goal is to get the reader to experience a certain place, taste, sound, experience or emotion that the writer is describing.

It encourages students to be creative while bringing to life a particular experience. A descriptive essay is successful if the reader is able to indulge in the sensory details of the essay. Here are some tips on how to successfully write a descriptive essay:

Choose your topic. The best essays are ones where students have a strong connection to the subject they’re writing about. A vivid memory, a strong emotion, a remarkable experience. Write down thoughts and ideas that strike you. Then narrow down your list until you choose a topic you want to write about.

Brainstorm descriptive words. Before you form sentences, make a list of words that describe your experience. If you’re writing about your first visit to the ocean, you could write down words like “sandy” “bright” “salty” “monstrous waves” “scent of coconut suntan lotion” etc. Begin conjuring the sights, smells and sensations associated with this event.

Choose your angle. From what angle are you going to tell this story? What particular part of this event are you going to focus on? Maybe you won’t spend too much time talking about getting an ice-cream on the boardwalk, but you will focus on the feeling of your first swim in the ocean.

Introduction. Where will you start? How will you introduce your subject to your reader? The introduction is where you’ll capture the reader’s attention and draw them into your story. Make the first lines burst with descriptions so the reader feels like they’re right there with you.

What’s the climax? Like any story, there should be a peak in your descriptive essay where all the sights, sounds and smells conjure and leave the reader breathless with excitement. While waving to your mother on the shore, did you get taken down by a wave? What happened? Were you afraid? This will be the climax of your essay where the emotions are heightened and the descriptions even more intense.

Leave them wanting more. The last sentences of the descriptive essay are equally as important as the rest. Don’t fizzle out now after you’ve done so much work to keep your readers interested! As you close your essay, continue using creative ways to recount your experience and leave them wishing they could read more about it.

Re-read. After you’ve finished your first draft, you may want to call it quits after all that hard work. But your essay isn’t finished just yet. Go back and re-read the essay from start to finish. Circle or highlight areas that could be improved where the descriptions are weaker than in other parts.

Get someone’s opinion. Descriptive essays are particularly easy for other people to read, so don’t be shy. Ask a family member or friend to read your essay and tell you what they think. Does it grab their attention? Which parts were their favorite? Are there any areas they think could be better?

Revise. After you’ve had some feedback on your essay, go back and revise the areas you think need to be re-worked. Include new descriptions and ideas that are relevant to your topic.

Edit. Now’s the time to look over your essay for grammar, spelling and flow. Make sure it’s perfect. Stumbling across a grammatical error while engrossed in your essay will take them out of their involvement. And you may not get them back. Don’t let these errors spoil your good work. Take the time to edit thoroughly so the reader can have the sensory experience you created for them.

Make your descriptive essay enthralling by giving the reader captivating detail from start to finish. And don’t forget to edit before handing it in. Good luck and happy writing!

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