How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Crafting Words to Vivid Thought: How to Write a Descriptive Essay

What is a descriptive essay? And how does one go about writing it? This Buzzle article will help you out. Have a look...
A descriptive essay must describe the object, place, situation, or person in such a way that the reader is able to envisage it in vivid detail.

Descriptive essay writing. The term is self-explanatory, and involves writing about a subject by describing it in exquisite detail. In such an essay, it is the responsibility of the writer to recreate the subject in the reader's mind, as if the reader is witnessing it firsthand. The essay should include essential sensory details that would stimulate and appeal, not only to the reader's physical senses, but also to his/her emotional and intellectual sensibilities. It should be written keeping the audience in mind, as the true success of a descriptive essay lies in the correct and graphic perception of the subject matter by the readers. It achieves this by making the optimum use of literary tools such as denotative, connotative, and figurative language, metaphors, and similes.

It is quite easy to say that, but how does one actually go about doing it?
The first thing to remember is to use all the five senses (touch, smell, sound, taste, and sight) in the essay to portray your description. With the help of these senses, you have to describe either a scene, or an event, or a location, or a person, or an object. The list is virtually endless. The key is to use descriptive words while writing the essay.

You can go about descriptive writing in a step-by-step manner.
First, decide the topic you want to write about. Once that is decided, you need to decide what the focus of your essay is going to be. For example, if you write about the time just before it rains, are you going to talk about how you like the weather just before it rains, or are you going to talk about how the gloominess of the environment makes you feel sad. The focus decides the approach of your essay. Obviously, if you are going to write about how you like the weather before the rains, the essay would be more upbeat. If you are talking about the gloomy aspect of the weather, your essay would focus on your feelings of sadness and the like.

Then you have to decide what senses are you going to use. Are you going to talk about what you see, how you feel, or how the smells are, so that you can begin creating a visual image in the reader's mind.

Using the example above, let's see a short paragraph which uses the approaches discussed above.

Here is the paragraph where the weather before the rains makes me feel good.

As I leaned out of the window, I inhaled the fresh air, smelling of wet earth. I looked up and saw the clouds slowly gather together, so that they could shower their cool drops upon us down below. The trees were swaying slowly to the light wind that had picked up. It felt as if Mother Nature herself was getting ready for her dance in the rain.

Here is the paragraph where the weather before the rains makes me feel gloomy.

As I leaned out of the window, I smelt the damp smell of earth. Looking up, I saw the clouds gather together to drench us with their cold, wet drops. The trees swayed in the wind, as if they protested the unexpected drizzle that was coming their way. I felt as if Mother Nature was getting ready to cry and let out her pain onto us all.

If you observe, in both the cases a description of the event has been given using action-oriented words. The maxim of 'show, not tell' has been used, along with descriptive words to create the picture of the period before it rains. The approach then gives the feelings of either happiness or sadness with the imagery thus created. Descriptive techniques with regards to the senses have also been used to the best effect to describe, for example, the 'smell' of the earth and the 'sight' of the trees swaying.

Descriptive essay writing is thus, a culmination of the process of creating a visual image with the help of words and senses.
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