How to Write a Descriptive Essay: 14 Best Tips for Description

How to Write a Descriptive Essay: 14 Best Tips for Description

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As a student, you know that one of the most important things in your life is writing. Descriptive essays are some of the most challenging essays to write, and they take up much time. These types of essays require you to be articulate and insightful about what you are describing or analyzing. Descriptive essay topics can range from objects, events, people, feelings, and more! Writing these essays takes time and practice, but with this blog post, we hope to help make it effortless for you by giving tips on how to write an effective descriptive essay!

What is a Descriptive Essay?

A descriptive essay refers to a form of writing that uses sensory details to describe a person, place, thing, or event. Descriptive essays are often subjective and use the first-person point of view. The goal of a descriptive essay is to evoke strong images in the reader’s mind so that they can see, feel and experience what you are describing.

What is the Difference Between a Descriptive Essay and Narrative Essay?

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A Descriptive essay means that you have to tell about what you are writing. A narrative essay is a story. You have to write about what happened in the story and how it changed over time. Descriptions are used in both types of essays, but they utilize distinct strategies to communicate them effectively. There are some key differences between the two styles. For example, Descriptive essays will rely on more tangible sensory information. In contrast, descriptive narratives will focus on the emotions and sentiments that arise.

When Should You Write a Descriptive Essay?

You should write a descriptive essay to describe anything that allows for sensory details such as taste, sight, sound, touch, and smell! Descriptive essays are used in many different types of writing, including fiction stories and nonfiction academic pieces like critical reviews. The most common Descriptive essay topics include describing people (describing physical features), places (landscapes) and things (artifacts). However, the essay does not have to focus on one object. Rather, it focuses on the object’s features and how they are being experienced.

14 Best Tips for Writing Your Descriptive Essay

Stage 1: Brainstorm Ideas for Your Descriptive Essay                                                                   

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Before you commence writing your essay, it is important to take some time and brainstorm ideas. Descriptive essays are all about painting a picture for the reader with words so think of what images come into mind when someone says “descriptive essay”.

As an example, during brainstorming, you might:

  1. Choose a Person to Describe

You may choose a person to describe, which will allow you to write about their physical features. You can also choose a person’s personality or character traits as well. For example:

You might imagine the individual as someone who has never spoken of their struggles before and opens up with all types of painful memories that they have never shared with anyone else in the world; hearing their story would be like listening into something personal only this person knows about themselves.

  • Select an Object or a Place to Describe

Alternatively, you might choose an object or a location to describe. It is important to describe your object’s appearance, behavior, and surroundings or place. Descriptive essay writing requires in-depth research about the topic selected. You can also select memories vivid to you, making it easier to describe each detail with accuracy and clarity.

For example, when you choose something familiar like a house, try consulting family members who may remember using certain objects present in different rooms when they were younger.

Identify what makes your chosen object or place unique: its appearance, location, history etc. Details such as color, size, and shape should be mentioned clearly because these details help readers visualize the subject more easily than general words like “big” or “green”.

Start off with a general description and then move on to specific details. Try to use sensory words that appeal to the reader’s five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Always use strong verbs and adjectives to convey the feeling or mood of your topic. Descriptive essays are all about painting a clear picture for the reader, so use words that create an image in their minds.

Here is an example of how to put all these tips together:

The old oak tree in my grandmother’s yard was huge! It must have been at least 100 years old and its branches stretched out so far that they nearly touched the ground. The bark was rough and scaly, with a deep red hue. The leaves were large and green, with pointed tips. The tree smelled earthy and musty, like wet soil on a rainy day. When the wind blew, the branches would rustle and creak.

When writing about people or animals, it is important to capture their personalities in your essay. Descriptions of physical appearance should not be the only focus; try to include exciting quirks or habits which make them unique.

  • Pick an Emotion to Describe

The best descriptive essays are those which evoke strong emotions in the reader. Your descriptive essay should be able to transport readers into another world and make them feel like they are a part of it. If you can make your focus audience feel like they are right there alongside you experiencing everything that you are describing, then you have done a great job!

Happiness, sadness, anger, love, and fear are just a few examples of emotions that you may express in your essay.

  • Create a List of Sensory Details about your Topic
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Student preparing a descriptive essay

When describing a person, place or thing, it can be helpful to use all of your senses. This will create a more vivid picture for the reader. Some key details to include are:

– Sight: What does your topic look like? Describe its features in detail.

– Sound: Does your topic make any sounds? If so, what are they?

– Smell: What does your topic smell like? You can describe the individual smells or talk about how it all comes together.

– Taste: Can you taste anything on your topic? If so, let us know!

– Touch/Feel: How would this feel to touch with your hands or mouth if you could?

– Movement: Does your topic move, or does it remain still? What does this appear like, and how might the movement affect those observing it?

Stage 2: Write your Descriptive Essay

After brainstorming, now it is time to write your descriptive essay. This is an opportunity to use your five senses and provide rich, sensory detail for the reader.

  • Develop an Outline for your Essay in Sections

Now, organize your essay by creating an outline with three or four main points. A descriptive essay has five paragraphs by definition. However, you may add sections and sub-sections based on the subject’s breadth and the length of your target essay.

As a result, your essay outline should generally look like this:

– Paragraph 1: Introduction

– Paragraph 2: Least important point

– Paragraph 3: Second least important point

– Paragraph 4: Major point

– Paragraph 5: Conclusion

It is vital to state here that your instructor may ask for a different structure, so be sure to check your assignment requirements. Also, remember to include transitions between each paragraph.

  • Generate Thesis Statement and Opening Sentence

After your outline is complete, use it as a guide to write the opening and thesis statement. By this point, you should know what exact information will go where in your essay, so writing these sentences will be easier than creating an original thesis or topic sentence.

The best thesis statement will introduce your topic and state your main point. For example, “A descriptive essay should create a vivid picture of the subject for the reader using sensory detail.”

  • Write a Hooking Introduction

Once you have formulated your thesis statement, start your introduction with a sentence that will grab the reader’s attention. An example of a powerful thesis statement might be, “When most people think of Descriptive Essays, they imagine flowery language and adjectives”.

Your introduction should pique the reader’s curiosity and introduce the subject of your essay. Therefore, make sure to avoid general statements or clichés, such as, “In order to write a great descriptive essay, you need to use lots of adjectives.”

Cliches ruin your credibility as a writer and make the reader less likely to read your essay.

  • Describe your Topic with Vivid Adjectives

Now that you have written your essay introduction, it is time to focus on the body of your essay. One excellent way to make your essay more descriptive is by using adjectives. Adjectives are words that describe nouns, and they can help you paint a picture for your reader.

For example, if you are writing about a storm, you might use adjectives like raging, ferocious, and destructive. If you are writing about a person, you might use adjectives like kind, gentle, and loving.

No matter your topic, try to find adjectives that will help bring it to life for your reader.

In addition to using descriptive adjectives, be sure to include specific details about your topic. Descriptive details are the minor, specific aspects of a person or thing that create a big picture in your reader’s mind.

For example, if you are describing someone who is tall and thin, include adjectives like lanky and gangly to describe their body type. If they have blonde hair, mention its color and texture. Descriptive details will help your reader infer more information about your topic than just using vague adjectives alone would do.

  • Use Similes and Metaphors

Similes and Metaphors add color to a descriptive essay. When you use them correctly, the reader feels as if they are seeing something for themselves instead of just reading about it. Always use metaphors and similes that the average person can understand. If you use words that no one knows, the reader will not be interested in your essay.

A Simile refers to a figure of speech that compares two things using words “like” or “as. Similes can be a great way to add color and personality to your writing for descriptive essays. You typically want to use Similes that compare something tangible like an object or animal instead of intangible features such as emotions because they will appeal more directly to the reader. Descriptive essays are all about bringing life to a topic. Therefore, using similes that compare something tangible with an intangible feature will not have as big of an impact on your descriptive essay’s success.

Here is a list of similes to consider using in your essay:

  1. Somebody’s eyes were like two shining saucers
  2. The stars were like a blanket of diamonds thrown over the sky
  3. His skin was as smooth as silk
  4. Her hair was as black as coal

On it the other hand, a metaphor is a figure of speech that uses comparison to describe one thing relative to another, usually using the word ‘as’ or ‘like.’ Here are some metaphors to use in your next descriptive essay:

  1. My heart was torn into pieces when I had to leave my home
  2. The descriptive essay about my first day of school was a roller coaster ride
  3. The descriptive essay about the beach made me feel as if I had been transported to an island paradise, e.t.c.
  1. Discuss your Thoughts and Emotions about the Topic

Describe your thoughts and emotions within your essay body paragraphs about the topic. For example, when writing an essay on why you want to go to college, discuss how excited you are as you embark on this new journey in life by describing what it feels like when thinking of going away from home or seeing all of your friends again after a long break.

Throughout your essay body paragraphs, use the first-person point of view. For example, instead of writing “My friends are always there for me,” write “I had never felt more supported by my besties than when I was going through a tough time.” Descriptive essays are all about painting an image in the reader’s mind, so using the first-person perspective makes it more personal and relatable.

  1.  Finish off your Essay with a Convincing Conclusion

Your conclusion should summarize your points and leave the reader with something to think about. For example, you could challenge them to put what they have learned into practice, or ask a provocative question that will make them want to learn more. Whatever you do, make sure your conclusion leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

In the end, your essay will be judged on how well you can convince the reader that this is an excellent way to go about things. Give them all of the reasons they need to see why descriptive essays are a practical choice, rather than listing random facts and figures. Descriptive writing requires skill and thoughtfulness in order for it not only to sound good, but also to be effective.

 Stage 3: Polish your Essay

  1. Edit your Essay
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After you have written your essay, it is time to go through the last polishing stages. This includes editing grammar, spelling, and punctuation, ensuring that your paragraphs are well-constructed and cohesive, and ensuring your essay is formatted correctly.

  • Editing: Have someone else read your essay and offer feedback. A fresh set of eyes could help you catch errors you missed.
  • Paragraphs: Make sure your paragraphs are well-constructed and cohesive. Each paragraph should be focused on a single topic, and all the sentences within that paragraph should support that topic.
  • Formatting: Normally, essays should be formatted with double spacing, 12-point Times New Roman font, and one-inch margins.
  • Proofreading: Once you have finished editing and formatting your essay, take the time to do a final proofread. This will help catch any last-minute errors.

Following these steps will help you produce a polished and professional essay. And best of all, it will represent your best effort!

  1. Revise your Essay for Clarity and Length

You have now done a brilliant job of painting a vivid picture with your words. However, you may need to revise your essay for clarity and length. Descriptive essays should be around 500-750 words in length. Make sure each sentence contributes to the overall description. Also, make sure each paragraph flows smoothly into the next one.

Your instructor will be looking for evidence of your command of language and ability to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. Remove and replace any vague words or phrases or do not add to the description.

Do not forget that the order of words is important too!

  1. Publish your Descriptive Essay

You are now ready to submit your descriptive essay for publication. Sharing your descriptive essay with your class or instructor can be a great way to get feedback and improve your writing. You may also decide to submit it to a contest or publish it on a blog.

Remember, most writers are sensitive to criticism, but do not let that stop you from seeking feedback. The more essay writing you do, the better your skills will become.


In conclusion, descriptive essays are a great way to hone your writing skills. Descriptive essay tips include revising for clarity and length, using vivid language, avoiding vague words or phrases, and paying attention to word order. Remembering the importance of revision will help you create a successful piece of writing!

Thanks for reading! I hope this blog post was helpful. Please share it with your friends and classmates. And do not forget to subscribe to my blog for more helpful writing tips.

Best Regards

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