Tips on Writing a Descriptive Essay

How to write a descriptive essay

A descriptive essay is aimed at making sensory details brightly and clearly present to the readers. Although students are usually asked to write such essays in school, description often becomes an important element in various types of writing. For example, description included in an argumentative paper can be used to make a certain position more persuasive. In this article, we will discuss the process of writing a descriptive essay.

Showing vs. Telling

Sensory details in descriptive writing are details of sound, sight, smell, taste and texture. If you prefer using “showing” words, which describe sensory details appropriate to your subject and purpose, you will likely succeed in showing rather than telling. Generally, “telling” words are obscure or doubtful and can be often interpreted in plenty of ways.

Observing Details

Evaluate the subject you are going to describe in terms of sensory details. One of the most important writing tips is that you should think in concrete terms. Keep in mind that the more you are interested in and connected to this subject, the easier it is to interest the audience. Therefore, if you are going to describe a certain person, make sure his/her characteristics stand out to you. If you are going to describe a particular place or thing, it should be the one which has a peculiar meaning to you.

Your goal is to paint a clear and realistic picture, so it is very important to observe carefully. Notice every detail, which sets your subject apart from the others. If it is a person, add in your description physical characteristics and mannerisms, the way he/she interacts with others, if you can observe it, etc. If you describe a place or a thing, include not just its physical characteristics, but also its geographic, historical and emotional relevance, if you can do so using just sensory details, without any explaining.

Decide on a Purpose

Even a description for description’s sake has to have a certain purpose. Decide whether there is an important overall impression you would like to convey, a general point or a central theme. Decide upon your thesis and organize the paper around it. For example, if you are writing about your car, you can describe it as your home away from home, with all those snack foods, some changes of clothing, textbooks and your favorite playlists. You can also describe it as a beautiful woman on whom you lavish money and attention. Avoid describing it in cold, clinical details without having any purpose in your mind.


An extended description, which is not organized well, has a confusing quality and quickly loses reader’s attention, so it is very important to choose a good organizational plan. Make sure your paper is coherent and consistent.

You can create an interesting introduction to the paper by adding a quote from your subject or a short anecdote about him/her. It is necessary to use vivid words, suitable metaphors, contrasts, and comparisons.

If you have achieved your purpose, make sure your conclusion confirms in the mind of your readers what you have already shown them with the help of sensory details. If you need help with writing your descriptive essay - visit a page on our site dedicated to this matter.

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