One of the keys to writing a descriptive essay is to create a picture in your reading audience’s mind by engaging all five of their senses – smell, sight, touch, taste and sound. If you can do this, then your essay is a success, if not, then you have a lot of work to do. The first steps in writing a descriptive essay will lay the groundwork for the entire piece.
Step 1: Choose a topic
A descriptive essay will usually focus on a single event, a person, a location or an item. When you write your essay, it is your job to convey your idea about that topic through your description of that topic and the way that you lay things out for your reader. You need to show your reader (not tell them) what you are trying to describe by illustrating a picture in their mind’s eye very carefully.
Your essay needs to be structured in a manner that helps your topic to make sense. If you are describing an event, you will need to write your paragraphs in chronological order. If you are writing about a person or a place you need to order the paragraphs so that you start off in a general manner and then write more specific details later. Your introductory paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the essay, so it needs to set out all of the main ideas that you are going to cover in your essay.
Step 2: Create a statement
The next step is to create a thesis statement. This is a single idea that will be prominent throughout your essay. It not only sets out the purpose of the essay, but regulates the way that the information is conveyed in the writing of that essay. This is an introductory paragraph that sets out your topic framework.
Step 3: Get the senses right
Next, create five labelled columns on a sheet of paper, each one having a different of the five senses. This labelled list will help you to sort out your thoughts as you describe your topic – the taste, sight, touch, smell and sound of your topic can be sketched out among the columns. List out in the columns any sensation or feeling that you associate with the topic that you are writing about. You need to provide full sensory details that help to support the thesis. You can utilize literary tools such as metaphors, similes, personification and descriptive adjectives.
Once you have the columns laid out you can start to fill them with details that help to support your thesis. These should be the most interesting items that you have noted in your columns and will the details that you flesh out into the paragraphs of the body of your essay. Topics are set out in each separate paragraph and a topic sentence begins that paragraph and need to relate to your introductory paragraph and your thesis.
Step 4: Create an outline
The next step is to create an outline listing the details of the discussion of each paragraph. Students in high school are generally asked to write a five paragraph essay while college students are given more freedom with the length of their piece. The standard five paragraph essay has a particular structure including the introductory paragraph with the inclusion of a thesis statement, followed by three body paragraphs which prove that statement.
Step 5: Write the conclusion
Finally, the conclusion paragraph makes a summary of the entirety of your essay. This conclusion also needs to reaffirm your thesis (if necessary). Your conclusion needs to be well written because it is the final thing to be read by your reader and will remain on their mind the longest after they have read the remainder of your essay.
Step 6: Review your essay
It is important to take a break from your writing once you have completed the work. By stepping away from the work for a short time you can clear your mind and take a short rest. You can then take a look at the essay with fresh eyes and view it in much the same way that a person reading it will when they first see the piece.
After you have taken a short break or a walk (or whatever the case may be), read the entire essay again thinking about your reader. You should ask yourself if you were the reader, would the essay make sense to you? Is it easy to read so that anyone can understand what the topic of the essay is? Do any of the paragraphs need to be rewritten because they are confusing and need to be better written to be descriptive?
Your choice of words and language need to convey what you are trying to describe when you talk about a particular topic. The details that you have provided should give your reader enough information that they can form a complete picture. Any details in the essay should help a reader to understand the meaning of the topic from the writer’s point of view.
Read your entire essay over again, out loud this time. Sometimes reading something out loud can help to identify any issues that should be worked out. Read the essay again to a friend or family member and have them give you any criticisms that they might have. Have someone else ready your essay and then ask them if anything needs to be clarified or if they received a clear picture from the details given in the essay.
Step 7: Finish it up
Finally, read your essay again very carefully and check for any grammar, punctuation or spelling errors that are obvious within the essay. If you find any clichés, be sure to delete them, they certainly do not belong in your essay. If there are any parts that are not completely descriptive or don’t make as much sense as you would like them to, rewrite them once again and then follow the proof reading and reading aloud process again to ensure that the final product is exactly as expected. You can never be too thorough when it comes to reading the essay over again and checking for any areas that need to be reworked.
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How to Write a Descriptive Essay Outline
Descriptive essays are mainly used to help readers have a vivid idea or image of the object, place, or person being reviewed. Writers, therefore, try to engage the audience’s senses by creating a near perfect description. Readers, or the audience, need to feel like they have already visited a place or met a person after reading a descriptive essay. Writers must employ their mastery of language to make sure that their final piece creates an emotional connection with the readers.
Descriptive Essay Structure
Understanding the structure of an essay is a key to writing a perfect essay. An essay’s structure mainly contains the segments or sections that need to be included within an essay. Writers should, therefore, understand how an essay is structured before embarking on the writing process. The structure of a descriptive essay is simple and mainly includes three sections which are:
- an introduction,
- the body section,
- and the conclusion.
These three must be included in an essay if a student is to score high marks.
Tips Concerning Introduction Writing
An introduction provides a writer with the opportunity of making the first impression and impressing the readers. It is, therefore, essential that a writer sets off on the right footing. Additionally, it is in the introduction where the writer shapes their essay and either impresses the readers to the point where they want to read the entire essay or scares them off. When given this chance, it is essential that writers make the best out of it and deliver their best. Writers should build their essays from the introduction and make it easy for their readers to comprehend whatever information they will share in the essay. A majority of readers make the decision to continue reading an essay after the introduction. Therefore, writers should strive to make them interesting and captivating enough.
Here are some tips to help you write a good introduction:
- Start the introduction with a hook. Capture the reader’s attention with an interesting first sentence. You can make use of fun facts about a city or use a phrase.
- Be brief and direct in your introduction. Be mean with the information you share in the introduction, however, you should include enough to entice the readers to read the entire essay.
- Include a thesis statement. Have your main argument stand out and make sure your audience understands it.
Tips on Thesis Writing
A thesis statement mainly contains the writer’s main argument or the idea that will be prominent in the entire essay. Writers often use it to make their audience understand the purpose of their essay as well as reveal the scope of the subject under discussion.
When writing the thesis statement, consider the following:
- Define your scope and make it narrow.
- Avoid using clichés for example, “The focus of this article will be…”
- Make the thesis statement intriguing.
Tips on Body Paragraphs
Descriptive essay writing is not a challenging task, but some students often find themselves struggling to support their thesis statement. The body of an essay should develop or offer support to the thesis statement. Writers should, therefore, express their points in a way that builds on the introduction.
Here are some tips concerning the development of the body paragraphs:
- Use topic sentences. The main arguments should be the first sentences in the subsequent paragraphs after the introduction.
- Use transition words. For example, firstly, secondly, additionally, subsequently, etc. These help the readers to follow an essay systematically.
- The number of the paragraphs differs and depends on the instructions provided. However, the length of each paragraph should be five to six sentences.
Tips on Conclusion Writing
The conclusion in a descriptive essay represents the last opportunity for the writer to impress the readers. Writers should ensure that their conclusions leave the readers with a lasting impression and in a way affects their thinking.
To write a good conclusion, consider the following tips:
- Restate the essay’s thesis statement.
- Provide a summary of the essay’s points.
- Leave the readers with something intriguing. Make sure they think about the essay beyond the assignment.
Example of an Outline
A descriptive essay outline simply details the main points the writer will discuss in the essay. When writing an outline for a descriptive essay, it is essential to first of all, understand what the essay`s structure is. The above is important because the writer needs to focus on the points they will include in each of the sections. Descriptive essay outline writing is, therefore, essential and will help you decide on the scope of an essay while also developing points for the essay.
Below is an example of a descriptive essay outline:
My Best Friend
- Start with a funny memory about your friend or a phrase that they often say.
- Provide basic information about your friend. (Name, Age, School, Work, etc.)
- Provide a small history of your friendship. For example, when you first met.
- Thesis statement (focus on what makes them a great friend, what values they uphold, their favorite programs, their most radical views about an issue such as abortion or divorce).
- Physical attributes (short/tall, blonde/brunette/black/Asian/Latino).
- Favorite TV programs and movies.
- Most important Christian values.
- Views on marriage and divorce.
- What views or policies they feel contradict their faith.
- Their stance on the current issues, for example, their view on President Trump’s immigration policy etc.
- Restate the thesis statement.
- Provide a summary of the main points. Try to emphasize on their greatest qualities or their most intriguing quality. These tend to remain in the memory of the readers long after they have read the essay.