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How to write a descriptive essay

20 Mar 2017

What is a descriptive essay?

A descriptive essay is the one that gives a vivid description of a person, place, an object, or even an experience. The goal of such paper is to enable the reader create a mental picture of the subject. To achieve this, a writer must employ colorful language to convey the central idea of the essay. The writer must also be able to use literary devices such as simile and metaphor to provide sensory details on the subject. At this point the five major senses (sight, smell. touch, taste, and sound) should come to mind. The writer must, however, avoid providing unnecessary and/or redundant descriptions as this would have the reverse effect of turning readers off. As you might already know, writing a descriptive essay begins with choosing a topic that identifies it as such; to drive home this point, a list of some topics is shown below:

  1. A short trip to Miami
  2. A close look at diamonds
  3. How a telephone works
  4. My first time in a red district
  5. The day I had my first child
  6. Grandma`s wrinkled face

Choosing a topic is often not where the problem lies as it even provided in some cases. The main task before the writer is to show and tell the audience whatever information he wishes to convey. For instance, instead of saying “the room was silent” the writer could express it thus: “the room was such that one could clearly hear the sound of a pin drop.” That is just a simple illustration of how to “show” and not “tell” when writing a descriptive essay. We now turn to examine the basic steps in writing one.

Descriptive essays are aimed to create some picture within the reader’s mind. This type of work requires certain structure and proper use of ideas. Step by step planning and following the given writing tips will help to fully uncover the topic and create the best essay possible.

How to begin

Grab the attention reader`s. Yes, the lead sentence in the essay should be creatively used to capture the reader`s interest. This sentence should be intriguing; it should practically leave the reader hungry; it should stir up the imagination of the reader. Consider this introduction one might use for our sample essay, “Grandma`s wrinkled face”: We all know that Nothing lasts forever; but looking at grandma, I would have wished this wasn`t the case. This sentence should be enough to get the reader thinking—and this would mean a job well done for the writer.

Writing the main body

The body is where the writer conveys much of the information on the subject. In a 5-paragraph essay, this should be the second, third, and fourth paragraphs. Each paragraph is begun with a topic sentence that instantly conveys the main idea of the paragraph. This topic sentence is followed by a thesis sentence. This thesis sentence develops an argument that the paragraph would be centered on. The remaining sentences in the paragraph should be used to do justice to the argument. Most importantly, the final sentence of each paragraph should lead smoothly and beautifully to the next one.

Being that a descriptive essay seeks to draw the reader into the world of the writer or the subject, the body must focus on specific aspects of the subject—and these should be described colorfully. If the writer wishes to convey a “deeper” meaning with the descriptions, he must be consistent. For instance, the “hidden” motive for our sample “Grandma`s wrinkled face” could be to reflect on the how sad grandma is; and not necessarily how old she is. Sentences like this could help convey this “hidden” message: “it seems that grandma has been aging faster and faster ever since she lost her husband, her only source of happiness”. A statement such as this should be able to draw the reader’s attention to the emotional state of grandma instead of just dwelling on the “wrinkles”.

How to conclude

In a way, a descriptive essay is a story and should have a logical and memorable ending. It therefore behooves the writer to use his creative imagination to leave the reader feeling satisfied. There are several ways to bring the essay to end but all of them involve summarizing the main ideas of the paper. The first sentence of the final paragraph should give the reader a strong hint that the discussion is drawing to a close. Here are a few hints on how to do this:

  1. Begin the lead sentence with “finally……
  2. Begin with “in conclusion……
  3. The final paragraph could begin thus: “In all……
  4. It could also begin with “to summarize……

In conclusion, a writer must recognize that the last sentence of any essay is likely what would stay with reader; and so, the writer must craft this sentence as creatively as possible. The best thing that can happen to a writer is for his work to remain alive in the mind of a reader and writing a beautiful conclusion is one good way to ensure this.

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