How to Write a Descriptive Essay: Steps for Successful Writing

Essay Guides
Sep 03, 2019 | 12 Minutes

It is essential to know how to write a descriptive essay since descriptive writing is one of the basic types of essay writing in college or university. One of the best approaches to creating a successful descriptive essay is to paint a picture in your head of what you want to write about. Since it is a descriptive essay, it can be inferred from its name that it focuses on the description of something.

Therefore, it is essential to appeal to feelings, emotions, and senses, particularly use such adjectives and adverbs that will help the target readers to use all of their senses – touch, sound, smell, taste, and sight. If you can master it, then you will provide a really successful essay. If not, you should definitely practice more. Check out the following steps on how to make a descriptive essay.

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Step 1: Coming Up with the Essay Topic

If you wonder how to start a descriptive essay, be sure that you need to select a topic. You need to decide what you will write about. For example, you can provide a descriptive essay about a person, so you will have to focus on that person, pinpoint the significance of describing him/ her, etc. Or you may want to write a descriptive essay about a place – it can be a place that you have recently visited or your favorite place for relaxation, whatsoever.

If you decide to write a descriptive essay about an event, be sure to describe it vividly and also emphasize why you have set your mind on choosing specifically this event. Moreover, when writing about some event, be sure to narrate its specifics in chronological order. When writing a descriptive essay, be sure that it is properly structured and organized: it should be logical and easy to understand.

Step 2: Provide an Introductory Paragraph and Formulate a Thesis Statement

When writing the introduction, remember that it sets the tone for the whole paper, so be sure to provide adequate background information. Finish the introduction with a strong and clear thesis for a descriptive essay that conveys the central idea or message of the paper. For example, if you are writing a descriptive essay about food, make sure that the thesis statement communicates the central idea in a clear and comprehensive manner. Once you have chosen a specific topic, do not deviate from it.

Step 3. Make Sure You Get All Five Senses Right

When switching over to the descriptive part of writing, think of your topic once again, and then think of the possible verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc., which may be helpful for communicating the idea across and making your description vivid. When thinking of the words that denote specific senses, make sure you understand their usage.

Thus, it is recommended to split a piece of paper into columns and write a list of words that relate to touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste. Apart from using mere adjectives or adverbs for description, think also of specific literary devices that may be used for that purpose.

Descriptive Essay about Food

Step 4. Devise an Outline

Many students undermine the importance of writing the outline. Nonetheless, it is really helpful since it helps one write a good descriptive essay without suffering from writer`s block. When working on an outline, make sure you decide on the number of body paragraphs you will have. As such, start each body paragraph with a topic sentence and decide what aspect you will cover in each of the body paragraphs. Also, think of the supporting evidence you will use.

Step 5: Write a Conclusion for the Paper

If you wonder how to conclude a descriptive essay, be sure that you need to reiterate the thesis and summarize the key findings/ the most important information discussed. Sometimes you need to reaffirm the thesis statement depending on the initial purpose of essay writing.

Step 6: Provide a Revision of Your Paper

Once you have completed writing your descriptive essay, be sure to set it aside, take a break from writing, and only revise it in a day or so. Naturally, it can be done properly only if you have enough time for it but make sure you have at least a few hours free between writing and revising. Pay attention to the content first, particularly to the overall paper organization, the structure of paragraphs, logical flow of ideas, etc. Afterward, be considerate about grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

What Is a Descriptive Essay?

It is essential to know what is a descriptive essay before you start working on it. So, according to a popular definition, a descriptive essay is a type of academic paper that deals mainly with describing a specific topic. If it also relates to the topic summary, it can be called a descriptive narrative essay.

One of the best things is that expert evidence or supporting statements are not needed as in argumentative writing. Moreover, you do not have to gather any responses from other people (interviewees whatsoever). Descriptive essays are also known as expository essays and they do not entail research as they are mainly focused on describing or explaining something or phenomenon. Moreover, descriptive essays do not normally consist of many pages, so the essay will not require much effort. It belongs to the category of the simplest academic essays. You just have to describe vividly the person, event, thing, etc. in relation to the given topic.

Describing denotes illustrating some phenomenon with words. Therefore, almost anything from a thing, person, emotion, and feeling to sound can be described. With the help of the description, your reader will be able to perceive the thing in maximum the same way as you do. With the help of properly used illustrative language, you can fulfill your aim.

The main difference between a narrative and a descriptive essay is that the latter focuses more on describing the event rather than merely telling a story about it or revealing some meaning. If you are reading a successfully written descriptive essay, you will get the feeling as if you have been to a specific place, met a specific person, or seen something with your own eyes.

What Is the Purpose of a Descriptive Essay?

Before working on a descriptive essay, it is essential to find out what is the purpose of a descriptive essay. So, the main purpose is to describe a thing, person, event, experience, etc. so vividly that a reader can paint a clear picture of the described phenomenon in his/ her mind. To achieve the ultimate aim of providing an impeccable descriptive essay, the writer may use imaginative language, literary devices, similes, comparisons, and images appealing to the senses.

When describing something, you do not persevere any other goals, such as to persuade whatsoever. You just have to make the topic clear for the reader. Instead of merely telling a specific story to the audience, when working on a descriptive essay, you have to provide a characterization of a specific object after careful observation.

Descriptive Essay Outline

Descriptive Essay Outline

To make sure your descriptive essay is properly structured, compose a descriptive essay outline before writing the very essay. It will help you to have a backbone of your essay and know how many paragraphs you will have and how you will begin each of them. When composing an outline, be sure to formulate a thesis statement as well as provide topic sentences for each of the body paragraphs. When needed, try to organize the paragraphs in chronological order and focus first on more priority information and finish with the least important details.

You can also brainstorm some ideas that will best illustrate your statements and support the thesis. Come up with specific vocabulary structures and literary devices that may be suitable for your topic. You may write them down in separate columns, namely metaphors, epithets, similes, comparisons, personification, hyperboles, adverbs, and adjectives among others.

In order not to overlook any important details, list them down in a list as well. It will help you to describe everything properly. Overall, a descriptive essay outline eases the whole writing process.

When working on your paper, be sure to follow such four steps:

  1. Make sure the opening paragraph contains a hook – a statement that grabs the attention of your readers. Apart from providing some interesting fact that attracts the audience, be sure to provide sufficient background information on the topic so that it is understandable for the readers. Moreover, remember to end the introductory paragraph with a thesis.
  2. Create your body paragraphs after you decide how many of them the main body will have. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that conveys the main idea of the essay. In other words, the key point should be provided in the topic sentence and after it, you should provide supporting evidence and illustrations. Remember that each body paragraph should include vivid details that appeal to the senses.
  3. Write a conclusion. When writing the conclusive paragraph, please reiterate the thesis statement and pinpoint once again the significance of your topic.
  4. Revise, edit, and proofread the paper. Make sure that you improve the writing style, the content, and the mechanics. Pay attention to grammar, sentence structures, vocabulary choice, punctuation, and spelling.

Over 700 Descriptive Essay Examples

134 Descriptive Essay Topics

If you have to write a descriptive essay but were not assigned a list of descriptive essay topics to choose from, feel free to check out the following ideas:

Descriptive Essays about People

  1. Provide a descriptive essay about my mother.
  2. Describe your role model.
  3. Describe a person who you respect most. It can be a person you know, a historical figure, or any other person bearing importance to you.
  4. Describe a character from your favorite movie/ book.
  5. Describe three specific character traits that you like and respect most in your best friend.
  6. Provide a descriptive essay about my best friend.
  7. Provide a description of a famous villain and state why you like him/ her.
  8. Provide a description of features of your girlfriend/ boyfriend that make you value her/ him as an important part of your life.
  9. Describe your favorite teacher: what do you like most about him/ her?
  10. Describe your favorite actor and state what you like about him most.
  11. Describe a specific person and state what makes him/ her behave in a certain way.
  12. Describe your least favorite actor/ actress.
  13. What psychological and emotional factors have the biggest impact on your personality?
  14. What character traits in people make you hate them?
  15. What traits are important for one to be the best friend of somebody?
  16. Do you have potential enemies? How would you describe them?
  17. Describe the concept of friendship. Do you believe there can exist a friendship between a woman and a man?
  18. Describe a perfect fashion model of the modern days.
  19. Describe specific features that make your mother special.
  20. Describe specific features that make your father special.

Descriptive Essay about My Mother

Descriptive Essays about Places

  1. Recall your most memorable holiday and provide a descriptive essay about the beach that is the most beautiful of those you have seen.
  2. Describe the best place where you would like to rest in winter.
  3. Describe the perfect holiday location for the summer.
  4. Provide a descriptive essay about nature that you find the most charming and picturesque.
  5. Describe your room on campus.
  6. Describe the ideal wedding ceremony you would like to have.
  7. Describe three countries that you dream to visit.
  8. Describe your hometown and list specific features of why you love it.
  9. Describe your hometown and list specific features that make you dislike it.
  10. Describe the loudest place you have ever visited in your life.
  11. Describe your college or university and mention three specific features that make it special.
  12. Describe your favorite of the seven wonders of the world.
  13. Describe the most memorable place that you attended with your parents as a child.
  14. Describe the summer festival you would like to attend.
  15. Describe the place you would add as the eighth wonder of the world.

Description Essay Topics about Memories

  1. Describe the best day of your life you have had so far.
  2. What was the most special occurrence on your last journey to the sea?
  3. Describe the birthday party of your best friend.
  4. How would a map of your mind look, which would enable other people to see the most vivid experiences with your eyes?
  5. Describe your first day in college.
  6. Describe the feelings and emotions you underwent when your beloved person died.
  7. Describe the pastimes you used to do with your grandparents when you were a child.
  8. Describe the very first time you fell in love.
  9. Describe how you feel when you have to pass an exam.
  10. Describe the very first time you rode a bicycle.
  11. Describe a book, movie, or a specific experience that changed your mindset a lot.
  12. Describe what it is like to be in the mountains to a person who has never been there.
  13. Describe the last country you have visited abroad.

Descriptive Essay Topics for Things or Objects

  1. Provide a descriptive essay about a picture you liked most in a gallery.
  2. Describe a thing that you consider to be your family’s relict.
  3. Describe a thing that you want to buy now. Why do you want it? What makes it so special to you?
  4. Describe a technological advancement that plays a crucial role in your life.
  5. Describe the most magnificent architectural construction that you like.
  6. Describe the Taj Mahal and highlight its historical and architectural value.
  7. Describe the role of the Bible in your family`s life.
  8. Describe clothes that make you feel confident.
  9. Describe the house you would like to live in?
  10. Describe your private room vividly.
  11. Describe the role of Tamagotchi when you were a child. Does it still matter to you?
  12. Describe in what way money can change the life of people.
  13. Describe your favorite computer game.
  14. Describe a doll you liked to play with when you were a child. What was so special about it?

Descriptive Essay Topics for Middle School Students

  1. Describe your ideal weekend.
  2. Describe your best summer holidays.
  3. Describe the book you like best.
  4. Describe your favorite TV program.
  5. Describe one of your friends whom you consider to be the most pleasant person.
  6. Describe your family.
  7. Describe your parents.
  8. Describe your personality in detail.
  9. Describe your siblings. Are you on good terms with them?
  10. Describe the flat/ house you live in.
  11. Describe the kitchen in your flat/ house.
  12. What attitude to fashion and trends do you have? Describe your favorite clothes.
  13. What is the most memorable event of your life?
  14. Describe your favorite singer.

Descriptive Essay Topics for High School Students

  1. Describe yourself in five-year` time.
  2. Describe your perfect working day.
  3. Describe your daily schedule and routine.
  4. Describe your feelings and emotions when you realize that your best friend has lied to you.
  5. Describe your ideal present for your birthday.
  6. Describe the character traits that you respect most in people.
  7. Describe your first teacher. Did you like him/ her?
  8. Describe your favorite book.

Descriptive Essay Ideas for College Students

Descriptive Essay Ideas for College Students

If you are studying at college now, check out the following descriptive essay ideas for college students:

  1. Describe the type of food you prefer.
  2. Describe a thing that you have recently learned to do for the first time.
  3. Describe the law without restrictions and rules.
  4. Describe your favorite pastime activity.
  5. Describe your favorite kind of sport.
  6. Describe your most liked celebrity.
  7. Describe your personal experience that can be regarded as unique.
  8. Describe your ideal working day.
  9. Describe your life partner. What character traits would make him/ her ideal for you.
  10. Describe your favorite holiday and how you and your family celebrate it.

Topics for Descriptive Essay Writing on Occupations, Hobbies, and Pastimes

  1. Describe your perfect future job.
  2. Describe what activities you would like to be involved in in your free time.
  3. Describe one of your hobbies and one of your friend`s hobbies. What is so interesting or special about them?
  4. Describe your perfect way of relaxation.
  5. Describe the thing you would like to learn to do.
  6. Describe your ideal ending of a day.
  7. Describe how you start your working day.
  8. Describe your strategies for passing an exam successfully.
  9. Describe your favorite recipe.
  10. Describe the best way of ending a romantic relationship.

Objective Descriptive Essay Writing on Character Traits and Behavior Mode

  1. Three character traits you like most in a person.
  2. Three character traits you dislike most in a person.
  3. A strong emotion that you hate to feel on your own.
  4. Your way of reacting to surprising situations.
  5. What makes you happy and smiling?
  6. Describe the things that make you scared.
  7. Describe an addiction you have in your life (eating sweets, playing video games, etc.).
  8. Describe your life as a vegetarian/ vegan.
  9. Describe what things motivate you.
  10. Describe the three most annoying things you may encounter on a daily basis.

Descriptive Essay about the Beach.jpg

Other Topics for Descriptive Essay Writing

  1. Describe the best dream you have ever had.
  2. Describe your brightest childhood memory.
  3. Describe the first time you flew on a plane.
  4. Describe your pet you had in your childhood.
  5. Describe the pet you have now.
  6. Describe your garden.
  7. Describe your ideal vacation.
  8. Describe your perfect relaxation after a tough day.
  9. Describe your room.
  10. Describe your ideal wedding.
  11. Describe your perfect date.
  12. Describe your favorite photograph.
  13. Describe your favorite picture.
  14. Describe your favorite artist.
  15. Describe your favorite TV show.
  16. Describe your favorite comic hero.
  17. Describe a life-changing experience you have had in your life.
  18. Describe your hobby.
  19. Describe your favorite restaurant.
  20. Describe your favorite means of transport.

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