How to Write a Descriptive Essay

 Writing the Descriptive Essay

The descriptive essay is a very specific writing genre.  Students are not being requested to write term paper pieces.  When one writes research paper assignments, indeed, s/he usually gathers information or data and factual descriptions prevail. There are no creative descriptions, with figurative language, that appeal to readers’ senses. The descriptive essay, on the other hand, is largely a work that requires no research and is, rather, produced by the creative juices that flow from the writer.

The Descriptive Essay Writing Process

College paper writing that is descriptive is common in English composition courses. The professor will want to give students practice in all forms of essay writing and to promote creativity of expression.  The descriptive essay begins with the choice of a topic – a person, a thing, an event, or an experience that will appeal to the readers’ 5 senses.  The goal is to create an image in the reader’s mind that will be unforgettable.

Providing the Description

While the structure of the descriptive essay will follow the basic format of an introduction, body and conclusion, the content will be quite unique.  Imagine, for example, describing a county Fair – what smells can you describe - wafting odors of barbecued meats, cotton candy and popcorn?  How about the odors produced as you wander through the livestock pens?  What sounds will you describe – the screams of children on the rides or the hawking voices of the “carnies” trying to lure customers to their booths? All of these things will need to be conveyed in figurative language sufficient for the reader to actually smell and hear what you are describing.  Similes, analogies, metaphors – that’s the stuff of which good descriptions are made!

 Difficulties with Descriptive Writing

For many students, descriptive essay writing can be sufficiently challenging that s/he may beg for someone else to, “Write my paper!”  This is not uncommon, for we all cannot be great writers of all genres.  If you are asking someone to “write my paper,” it means that you have not had enough practice yourself.  Start by reading and studying the descriptions that good authors have written.  Make note of the figurative language.  Make a list of the details you are describing and try to write unique and creative phrases and sentences of your own.  With practice you will get better and instead of saying, “write a paper for me” to someone else, you will have the confidence to try your own!

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