How to write a descriptive essay

A descriptive essay is one the college essays among the many college essays. It is a genre of essay that asks the students to describe something, it can be object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation etc. in written form.

Descriptive essay increases the student’s ability to create a written account of a particular situation or experience. The students is thus able to develop artistic character by vividly painting out the image of the situation or experience in the mind of the reader.

Some of the guidelines for writing a descriptive are;

  • Take time to brainstorm – the student must note down some points before starting to write the essay itself. These points will be used to join up and make the entire essay, the essays will have a continuous flow.
  • Use clear and concise language – words option should be carefully done. This will help in in bringing out the relevance of the particular thing being described.
  • Vivid language – lively language forms a firm image in the mind of the reader and thus a meaningful and interesting essay.
  • Use your own senses – when writing a descriptive essay, one need to be appealing to the senses of the reader. You must embellish the moment with senses.
  • What are you thinking – when describing emotions or feelings related to a particular topic, you need to connect to the reader on a deeper level. One must tap the emotional reservoir in order to achieve full descriptive potential.
  • Leave the reader with a clear impression – the main objective of the descriptive essay is to evoke a strong sense of familiarity and appreciation to the reader. If you leave the reader rolling down tears in when describing a sad story then you are a step to writing effective descriptive essays.
  • Be organized – organized and logical description is encouraged despite the fact that it is easy to fall into an incoherent rambling of emotions and senses when writing a college descriptive essays.

How to start a descriptive essay

Pre-writing stage of a descriptive college essays is whereby the notes down some important points to be used in the essay. Involve some inspiration from some other authors to search for descriptive topics and prompts before you start the writing.

 When starting a descriptive college essay, the following are the guidelines;

  • Create a draft of one’s expository essay – pick all the keywords that you will need to include I the five paragraphs. Make three points to prove the thesis statement and describe the subject.
  • Adding details to the descriptive college essay under the help of enriched English vocabulary. Ad anything you want and describe it vividly so as to impress your target audience. Create an image using sensory terms, ensure they are going to touch your descriptive topic and prolong the human body paragraphs.
  • Revise and edit the paper for the correct grammar – online grammar tools can help in checking out grammar and punctuation errors in the paper.
  • Edit the essay that is descriptive – before rereading the descriptive essay, you should have a fresh mind. This can be achieved by going for a work, having fun with friends or having a nap. Rereading can help you have confidence in your essay before presenting it to the audience.

Descriptive essay topics

Descriptive college essays can come in very many topics depending on what the author is interested in. descriptive topic reflexes the main reason why you choose to write your essay. Some of the categories of descriptive college essay are:

Topics to describe some place –

Here the student is required to give a vivid description of a certain location. The student is required to give every detail to make the readers anxious of being in that particular place(s). Some of the topic examples in describing places are; my perfect vacation, my perfect space, my favorite restaurant to check out, my dream apartment, and a town I obtained lost in.

Topics to describe a person

Students are here required to describe about someone known to them, a celebrity, a politician, singer, sportsman, actor etc. the reader should feel like meeting with the described person after reading the essay. The best dancer, the best singer, I prefer this in someone, my dad or mom is the most interesting person, and meet the writer of the essay are some of the topic examples.

Descriptive topics about an experience

Student is here required to give a vivid picture of an experience he or she had. The student’s creativity must be high enough to make the reader so emotional and develop a feeling about the described experience. My very first crus, the first day in school, my perfect trip, the time I visited a different country, this made me scared are the example topics.

Descriptive essays on things and objects in life

Student is required to write a college descriptive essay about an object of something encountered in his or her day to day life. The student must give a vivid description or explanation about the particular object and make sure that the reader is so much interested in seeing the object too. Some of the topic examples under describing an object are; my youth doll, my research basics, my sleeps makes me comfortable, why I prefer my smartphone, and the best tattoo.

Descriptive topics on hobbies, procedure, and occupations

Students is here required to explain and describe his or her hobby, a certain procedure or some occupation so lively and in detail. The reader should be impressed in the particular hobby and or occupation to an extent of admiring it. If it’s a procedure being described the author should feel he is an expert after reading the essay. Topic examples of this are; my future job, my brand new hobby, how to bake a pie, when you need to end your relationship, and drawing a portrait.

Descriptive essay topics on behavior and character

The objective here is to see the student describe a certain behavior and or character. The reader should be left admiring or hating completely the particular behavior and or character being described in the essay. Some of the topic examples on behavior and character are; my animal peeve, once I desire to quite, how to get my attention, I prefer this trait in an individual, what annoys me, and traits that my friend have commonly.

Descriptive essay outline

After you have been given a descriptive essay topic or you have found one from descriptive speech that you are interested in, you can go head and plan the components of a descriptive essay which are introduction, three body paragraphs and conclusion.

Introduction of descriptive essay does not make the very first impression to the reader but the structure will capture the attention of the reader. The structure of the descriptive essay assures the reader that the writing presented maintains the flow of ideas and a coherent structure.

A solid structure will therefore make the reader very much interested in the essay. A descriptive essay therefore has three sections; introduction, the body and conclusion.


Here is the outline of introduction of a descriptive essay; Opening sentence, background information, overview of the topic, Thesis statement, and subject of the essay. This is the component that will grab the attention of the reader and thus must be written simply and smooth. Thesis statement is always one sentence and there is need for smooth transition from history data to the thesis statement.

Body paragraphs.

A descriptive essay normally have three human anatomy paragraphs and must have evidence which show or support the thesis. These are the building blocks for critical analysis. The common structure of any main body paragraph starts with topic sentence, and followed by a series of sentences which are extensions of the topic.

The sentences should include an argument and support to the topic. Bear in mind that stringing quotes and facts together do not make a good quality of descriptive essay. The structure of body paragraphs should have topic sentence, development sentences, and supporting sentences in their paragraphs.


This is last paragraph of a descriptive essay. The aim is to leave the impact on the reader’s mind. Conclusion is the summary of the entire essay and gives a listing of the essay hence it provides the reader’s a sense of closure. Here are the strategies to concluding a descriptive essay;

  • Place a connector to the opener – conclusion should have an interesting opening sentence and must be related to the first paragraph.
  • Restate the thesis in different words – this serves more of a final judgment of what the writer think about the assigned context.
  • Summarize of main points – readers should see the big picture of the arguments made along the body of the essay.
  • State the significance of writing the prose – the writer should make the readers feel the meaningful and important analysis.
  • Direct the audience wisely – if for instance the writer had come up with a suggestion, he or she should express it in the conclusion section.
  • Consider other perspective as well – as literary analysis is subjective, different perspective on the same text co-exist.

Descriptive essay writing prompts

Prior to selecting a descriptive essay topic, check if you can show and not tell your readers or audience about the characteristics, actions, and emotions in the essay. Show do not tell is an approach used by writers to make writing more descriptive. This means the writer should portray and illustrate feelings and actions. Under the show do not tell approach, the writer tries to answer these questions in the descriptive essay although depending on the descriptive essay all questions cannot be answered at a go.

  • What did you see?
  • What did you hear?
  • What did you touch?
  • What did you smell?
  • What did you taste?

There are several descriptive essay prompts which offers the freedom to develop the content in very different ways but with a lot of sensory details. They are categorized into four; place, object, person, and experience. Each category has three descriptive writing ideas.

Descriptive writing topics about a person

  • Describe the strangest person you ever meet – brainstorm few ideas about this person. Strange and unique people are easy to remember and thus one will have a lot of ideas to write about this person.
  • Describe a person you envied – envy is a very strong emotion, reasons and characteristics that made you envy that person will be the main focus of the descriptive essay.
  • Describe an inspiring friend or a relative – inspiring people in the society are always remembered and thus an essay about the inspiring person can be vivid since the writer feels the impact.

Descriptive writing topics about a place

  • Describing a haunted place – these are memorable places and thus writing a descriptive essay can be effective.
  • Describe the place you loved when a kid – people tend to enjoy to know about the childhood of others and a descriptive essay can portray the place fairly.
  • Describing a naturally beautiful place – this may create anxiety to the reader as he or she might admire to go for the place on holidays or hiking over the weekends.

Descriptive writing topics about an object

  • Describe a lucky object – here you can select something that always gives good luch and write a descriptive essay about it.
  • Describing a piece of art – this can be a photography, picture or a paint. There are a wide range of sensory details to include in this descriptive essay.
  • Describing an object used in favorite sport – this entails writing about an object used in the most favorable sport. For example an Adidas ball in a football pitch.

Descriptive essay topics about an experience

  • Describe a hike you went.
  • Describe the first time you drove a car or rode a horse.
  • Describe a happy or a sad memory in your life.

Steps in writing a descriptive essay

The key to writing a descriptive essay is to create a picture in the readers or audiences mind by engaging all the five common senses, smell, sight, touch, taste, and sound. The following are thus the steps in writing a descriptive essay.

  • Choose a topic – descriptive essay usually focus on a single event, a person, a location, experience or an event. The essay needs to be structured in a manner that helps the topic makes sense to the audience. The introductory paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the essay and thus must have the main ideas of the essay.
  • Create a statement – create a thesis statement that will be prominent throughout the essay. It gives the purpose of the essay and it also regulates the way the information is conveyed.
  • Get the senses right – create five columns on a sheet of paper and write down all the five senses. You can thereafter fill them with the details that will help support the thesis statement, these should be the most interesting moments. These senses should be related to the thesis statement and the topic.
  • Create an outline listing the details of each paragraph.
  • Write the conclusion – this is a summary of the essay and it must reaffirm the thesis.
  • Review the essay – take a break from the writing table after completing the work, you can then come back and read the article just like it’s the first time. Reread it severally to ascertain the descriptive nature of the essay. Make sure the document portrays a vivid description.
  • Finish it up – Make any grammar spelling corrections to the final document as you reread it once again. If there are parts or portions that are not much descriptive, you can rewrite them once again. Proofread and read it aloud to ensure the final product is as expected.

Writing a descriptive essay

The motive of writing a descriptive essay is to show or portray to the target audience the significant elements of a person, place, object, and experience. Select an essay topic that is convenient and develop it with sensory details and this will make the reader read to the end.

Writing a good descriptive essay can be a quite uphill task for new writers and college students as they are still fresh with little skills and experience. However, with the help of tutors and online platforms, guiding can be done for one to write a descriptive essay that meets the minimum standards.

With exposure and continuous practices on writing the essays, one can develop the skills and confidence gradually and there will be an improvement in the quality of essays. School and other learning institutions can play a key role in developing literature writing skills by encouraging students to write literature essays from the early life of education.

Essay writing can change the judgmental ability of the society positively and the perception of the things happening in our daily lives. It will also develop persuasive skills which are very important in our daily lives.

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