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How to Write a Descriptive Essay

In your studies, there are many times when you will be needed to describe a place, object, person or experience. In this post, we’ll give you the best way on how to write a descriptive essay in a way that is efficient, informative, comprehensive and excellent.

What is a descriptive essay?

In brief, a descriptive essay is a brief piece of writing that aims at painting a vivid picture of a situation, person, object or place in the readers mind. The writer describes an object in such a way that the audience can have a full account of the happening. It is a genre that encourages a writer’s abilities to come up with an account of an experience or object. It gives the writer the freedom to explore creativity and linguistic skills.

But the main motive is to make the audience feel like they were involved in the experience after reading the essay. Remember, you become a pro if you can successfully create an impression of whatever you are describing in the mind of the reader.

What do you need to write this essay?


It is always important to brainstorm ideas for the essay. You can choose to describe a person, place or event that you know well. If you choose to describe a person – it can also be a fictional character- you need to know their traits well so that you can clearly describe them. You will then need to master adjectives to explain how they talk, look, walk, think or behave.

When you are describing an emotion, be sure to state it. It could be anger, rage, love or excitement. Using your experiences to write such an essay would be ideal as it gives you the accurate real-life ideas.

Your senses

Once you have chosen what you need to describe, list down details about it. When doing this, result to your senses. For instance, how it looks, feels, smells, tastes or sounds. You can do this by simply drawing five columns on a piece of paper or text software. Each column should represent a sense. Then, use them to note down every attribute of the subject. This information will help you write a concise-yet comprehensive descriptive essay.

For instance, under sound, you can state things such as:

Her soft melodious voice drove me wild.

Bang of the door behind him

Clack of her stilettos on the smooth glassy floor tiles

Process of writing

Before you write the actual essay, you need to be prepared with enough material. As shown above, it’s important to have the information necessary to come up with a first class descriptive essay. Your essay needs to be well organized. The structure of a descriptive essay is usually brief. It has the following sections; introduction, body and conclusion.

The outline

One of the surest ways to stick to the topic and come up with a quality essay is to have an outline in place. The outline helps you to follow the instructions given by your tutor- if it’s an assignment. In most cases, high school descriptive essays require to be written in five paragraphs. This restricts the information provided in each paragraph. The first needs to be an introduction, and the fifth a conclusion. The rest should form the body and must have a thesis statement at the beginning.

In college, students have more freedom when it comes to the length of their descriptive essays, but the structure of the paragraphs remains the same.

Basically, the outline is the backbone of the essay. It forms the skeleton onto which the ideas are attached. The outline makes the article’s ideas to flow and the overall piece to look neat. Below is a summary of a standard descriptive essay’s outline.

Title e.g. My Mother

Paragraph 1: Introduction

Paragraph 2: first idea

Paragraph 3: Second descriptive idea

Paragraph 4: Third idea

Last Paragraph: conclusion

How to write an introduction

The introduction should be strong. It is the foundation onto which the entire article stands. So, aim at getting the attention of your readers. Set the stage and introduce the subject of your discussion in an eye-catching style. Suspense could be one of the best ways to do this. A good introduction will make the readers to want more while a bad one will put them away. If you are writing for academic purposes, the tutor is likely to award you more marks if your introduction is flawlessly enticing. If you want to write an A-grade introduction, you had better stick to the right structure.

First sentence: Make it strong enough to grab your reader’s attention.

Subsequent sentences: Use a creatively descriptively summary to introduce the essay.

Last sentence: Include your thesis statement. The thesis statement is a single statement that gives the objective of the essay. 

Sample introduction paragraph of a descriptive essay

If he was still alive, I’d have probably included a video of him in this piece. He was charming and it is sad that there’s nothing I could do to keep him alive. Simba wasn’t like other dogs. He had the commanding eyes of a lion that scared everyone, yet they always gave me the courage that I was secure with him. The light brown long shafts of hair around his head and neck made him more of a lion than a domestic animal. I was addicted to his company and he knew it. His sharp memory and great love made him a genius and it gave me great joy. Can all I remember about Simba really fit in this piece?

How to write the body

The descriptive essay is made up of strong ideas that are described in the body section. Write as many sentences as you need- this depends on the number you’ve been instructed by your tutor. The standard number of sentences in a paragraph is six. The main aim of these paragraphs is to support the thesis statement. The first sentence of the paragraph states the idea. It is called the topic sentence. Then, the subsequent sentences support the topic sentence while the last summarizes the idea. Once you have exhausted describing an idea, go to the next paragraph and start another.

The body is longer than other parts of the essay. That is why you must use transition words to link your sentences and paragraphs. Transition simply signals that you are leaving one idea and heading to another. Conjunctions are the best words transition words. If you want to join two contradicting statements, then you should use conjunctions such as ‘however’. But, when you want to add onto a point, use conjunctions such as ‘also’ or ‘in addition to’.

Sample paragraph of a descriptive essay

 Simba’s mind was sharp and he was creative as much as he was accurate in memory. He took only a few days to adapt to my family and friends. But, he’d easily recognize when they stepped too far. If anyone became violent against me, he would suddenly become protective and a simple stern look at them and groan would send his message clear. His memory startled me, too. I loved to walk with him into the woods for adventure and he’d remember the way home even when I couldn’t. Simba had creative ways of helping me do my chores, and I just can’t forget the capabilities of his brain. Probably, his mind was the reason he had such an adorable character.

How to write the conclusion

A descriptive essay without a conclusion is like a bottle without a lid. The conclusion forms the last part of your essay and it needs to be well written. It’s the last chance you have to make the reader find your work impressive. Some tutors rely on the conclusion to grade their students. So, you need to crown it up with a first class finish.

It’s simple to write up the conclusion. First, you need to ensure that it lies in its own paragraph. It’s advisable to have a single paragraph in the conclusion part, unless your tutor has guided you differently. Then, signal the reader that the essay is coming to a close. You can use words such as ‘to sum up’ or ‘to finish’ or ‘in summary’ although it is not compulsory to do so. Do not write any new idea in the conclusion but instead, summarize those you’ve already written.

A descriptive essay conclusion sample

Without doubt, I get nostalgic every time I remember Simba. His energetic athletic body that allowed him to jog with me every morning still lingers in my mind. I can’t help but miss the passionate hugs he’d give me whenever his telepathic senses signaled him that I was down. Again, his cute-yet-fierce eyes that shown security on my paths will not be forgotten any time soon. It’s depressing that my dog couldn’t live as long as I did.

A-grade tips

  • Take time to come up with the perfect subject matter.
  • Use clear language with carefully chosen words.
  • Use vivid language.
  • Be organized
  • Master the use of metaphors, similes and adjectives.
  • Revise your work after writing. You can read it loud or ask a friend to assess it.

Examples of descriptive essays

Free Descriptive Essay about the Beach

Descriptive Essay about the Beach, How to Guide, Examples



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