Descriptive essays


You may know what a composition paper is, and a descriptive essay is a particular type of this writing assignment. As the name states, such an essay aims to describe a specific object, process, personality, or event. Your task, as a writer, is to provide the readers with a vivid portrayal and additional details of an issue so that it is easy for them to picture it.

Descriptive essay types

The types of descriptive essays vary greatly and depend on the approaches required for a specific work. On the one hand, it can be a descriptive writing task you may get at school to cover a particular topic. On the other hand, it can be a specific descriptive essay type you need to prepare. Here are two common types you are likely to write sooner or later:

  • Formal description — a type of descriptive essay that has certain similarities to an argumentative kind of essay. Namely, your task is to provide some essential features of a specific object by providing details. The paper should follow a strict structure, be cohesive, and exclude your emotional experience.

This type of essay is a typical school assignment that helps to facilitate your ability to apply details and cold facts while describing a subject under consideration. Sometimes students miss out on some data which seems to be insignificant. A formal description presupposes that you collect all the scattered facts and tiny details later to engage these in your paper’s body part.

While it is a formal descriptive paper, the tone should be correspondingly formal. Nevertheless, it does not mean you must be too serious. To better understand this task’s specifics, check some of the possible topics for formal descriptive essays: climate change, a summary of recent news, water pollution, the importance of artificial intelligence, etc. Often, the issues have an informative character.

  • Personal description — a type of descriptive essay that differs from the previous one a lot. To write this type of essay, a student should appeal to personal experience, emotions, and feelings while describing something that impacts them. For that reason, most students like such essays — everybody likes to write about the things that matter to them.

A personal descriptive essay aims at the awakening of either empathy or emotions in readers. An emotional aspect is the essence of such an essay and a distinguishing feature if you compare it with formal descriptive writing. You can use the most daring literary means and epithets to describe a particular issue. The purpose is to touch the hearts of readers through the wording you choose.

Whether it is a first date experience, competition, or the day you learned how to dance a tap dance, express the emotions via clear images. The idea of a descriptive essay is to picture specific incidents so brightly that a reader can see them through your eyes. In most cases, a personal essay should create some positive vibe and comfort your readers; however, it is not always the case.

Descriptive essay writing steps

Your topic

As you may understand, the topic choice is your first step. It is worth mentioning that you have more than enough options to choose from. Yet, you should follow the details of the instruction. If it is a personal descriptive essay, you can write about anything that impacts you and your feelings or interests you.

For instance, you may want to write about favorite actresses, photographers, or sightseeings. Formal essays, on the other hand, should be important to society in general. Regardless of the descriptive essay type and topic, make sure to keep up with guidelines. Also, learn about a subject and maintain the formatting.

Some students insist on writing a paper on a topic that is new to them. If you prefer new issues too, it would be better to do research first to realize whether it is worth your time and nerves. However, it does not mean that you must grab any new topic; it all depends on an issue’s area and complexity level.

What about the research?

As soon as you know your topic for the essay, you should start searching for the sources. To understand the importance of this step, consider the following: the time you spend on the materials’ search is longer than the time you spend on writing the essay. For that reason, you cannot just pick whatever seems to be appropriate and has a headline similar to your topic. You must be patient and picky.

Here are some hints for you:

  • Divide the facts that are not generally known to people between the paragraphs so that there is one fact per paragraph. The idea is to provide some new information; however, do not misuse this. Otherwise, it will be hard to read and perceive the text.
  • The most critical facts matter the most, so these should be above any other additional points in the paragraphs.
  • Imagine that you are the reader and try to find and include some appealing examples and data. Think about what an average reader would like to see in your work, something that can be useful for him.
  • Do not forget to intrigue and arouse interest in the topic by adding some new or little-known facts. Additionally, this will make a serious text less dull.
  • Do not forget to double-check your essay: see if it corresponds to your original outline, if your grammar and spelling are excellent, and the vocabulary is appropriate.
  • Try to use more figures of speech, sensory details, and effective epithets where necessary.
  • It would be better if you write in chronological order for the sake of cohesiveness. Yet, if you believe that the readers will understand everything and it is critical for your story, you can choose whatever order you need for the essay.

Craft your outline

Now that you have enough sources and additional notes, you can craft your plan. The outline is equally vital in the writing process as in any other stage. It will help you to see what the paper is going to be in the end. Besides, a well-organized plan ensures that you will stick to the point.

An outline presupposes a thesis statement as well. Even though it is just a schematic depiction of the future paper, you must create your message at this point already. By doing so, you can be sure that all the body part’s subtopics will correspond to your primary idea, which is a thesis.

While working on your outline, try to correlate with the following:

  • What answers would your readers like to get?
  • How can you answer these questions?
  • What are the most important things to highlight?
  • Are the sources you have enough to cover the questions you are going to answer?

These are guiding questions that will help you to develop an effective outline for your descriptive essay.

Descriptive essay format

The essay format is relatively simple: there is an introduction, main body or body of the paper, and a conclusion. Any essay has such a format. Below, you will learn more about these segments:

The introduction part

The introductory part is your chance to get your readers acquainted with the topic of your choice. It does not matter whether the issue is already familiar to a reader; you should act as if you are the first person to open the reader’s eyes and describe something fundamental. Present your idea, a concise outline, and a thesis statement.

A hook is an excellent way to start your essay. Be inventory right from the beginning to catch the attention of a reader. Talking about the first paragraph’s closing part, consider appropriate wording so that a reader gets your purpose and is willing to go on reading the text.

The main body

The main body paragraphs comprise the most crucial part of the essay. There must be several paragraphs in general. The only condition is having no less than three paragraphs; otherwise, the paper will look weird. Every new paragraph must represent a new idea and has your conclusion so that there is no unresolved issue in it and everything is clear.

Use any possible means to appeal to readers’ five senses: smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound. You should use transitional phrases to make the text smooth and easy to read. You can always add some minor details to create a comprehensive picture of something.

The concluding part

The concluding part is the closing paragraph or paragraphs. The conclusion summarizes your initial points and restates the thesis. Here, you also remind of the significant facts you used throughout the body part to highlight the importance of the thesis statement.

Even though it is the final stage of your essay, you can appeal to readers’ emotions here as well. You can describe why the topic matters to you so much and how it affects many other people. Add some clincher to ensure that your essay will stay in a reader’s memory for a while. Besides, such a statement can give some food for further thinking, which is an excellent result for a descriptive essay.

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