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How to do descriptive writing

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How to do descriptive writing
September 02, 2018 Anniversary Wishes No comments

Descriptive writing is vivid, colorful, and detailed. Follow these In descriptive writing, the author does not just tell the reader what was seen, felt, tested, smelled, or heard. Rather, the author . I can make all the tables turn. Rose gardens filled.

Descriptive Essays


The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

What is a descriptive essay?

The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe something—object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc. This genre encourages the student’s ability to create a written account of a particular experience. What is more, this genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom (the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader).

One might benefit from keeping in mind this simple maxim: If the reader is unable to clearly form an impression of the thing that you are describing, try, try again!

Here are some guidelines for writing a descriptive essay.

If your instructor asks you to describe your favorite food, make sure that you jot down some ideas before you begin describing it. For instance, if you choose pizza, you might start by writing down a few words: sauce, cheese, crust, pepperoni, sausage, spices, hot, melted, etc. Once you have written down some words, you can begin by compiling descriptive lists for each one.

  • Use clear and concise language.

This means that words are chosen carefully, particularly for their relevancy in relation to that which you are intending to describe.

Why use horse when you can choose stallion? Why not use tempestuous instead of violent? Or why not miserly in place of cheap? Such choices form a firmer image in the mind of the reader and often times offer nuanced meanings that serve better one’s purpose.

Remember, if you are describing something, you need to be appealing to the senses of the reader. Explain how the thing smelled, felt, sounded, tasted, or looked. Embellish the moment with senses.

If you can describe emotions or feelings related to your topic, you will connect with the reader on a deeper level. Many have felt crushing loss in their lives, or ecstatic joy, or mild complacency. Tap into this emotional reservoir in order to achieve your full descriptive potential.

  • Leave the reader with a clear impression.

One of your goals is to evoke a strong sense of familiarity and appreciation in the reader. If your reader can walk away from the essay craving the very pizza you just described, you are on your way to writing effective descriptive essays.

It is easy to fall into an incoherent rambling of emotions and senses when writing a descriptive essay. However, you must strive to present an organized and logical description if the reader is to come away from the essay with a cogent sense of what it is you are attempting to describe.

The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe If your instructor asks you to describe your favorite food, make sure that you jot.

A Guide to Descriptive Writing

how to do descriptive writing

Many of you do not know about the existence of different types of essays. Students for the most part cannot distinguish one type of essay from another. For example, let’s say you are assigned to write a descriptive essay. If you are interested in learning how to write a descriptive essay perfectly, then this post is what you need. We will tell you about this type of paper and the correct structure, as well as give advice that will teach you to write such essays in English quickly and competently. Before you understand how to write a descriptive essay, first of all you need to understand what it is. What is a descriptive essay?

A descriptive essay is a type of essay that allows you to describe something and to paint a picture for the reader in words.

Detailed Steps to Writing a Descriptive Essay

  1. Before you start writing your essay and come up with a plan, you need to put in the paper everything that you know about the topic. On this stage of gathering the information, you should not worry about its organization. To begin, simply put down each element and the characteristics of the function according to what you are describing.
  2. After you put all the information down, you can start to formulate the subtopics. Simply look at the items and bind them in their logical groups. These groups will be your main topics which you will consider in your body paragraphs. Here is a list of suggested topics for a descriptive essay.
  3. Your next step is to read through your information to come up with one major impression that you get from all that you have written. Brainstorm your information for a while and think whether you can come up with one thought or not. Does it sound difficult for you?
  4. When you are writing an introduction, you should keep in mind that it is your opportunity to impress readers, and you should use this opportunity. It is important to grab readers’ attention. Keep in mind that a reader decides whether to read further into your essay when he or she is reading the introduction. Present brief information of what you will write about in the body paragraphs. You can present here a fun fact, an anecdote, or something else that can interest readers. Remember that you should be direct and brief in your introduction. Include a thesis statement that will be understandable for readers.
  5. A thesis statement is the main idea of your essay that will be described in your essay. Use it to make readers understand the main purpose of your paper. Try not to use cliches in your thesis and make it intriguing.
  6. The body paragraphs should support the thesis statement. Don’t forget to use topic sentences. The main arguments are included in the first sentences of paragraphs. Also, use transition words in order to help readers follow your writing systematically. The number of paragraphs depends on the requirements that you get.
  7. Any essay needs a good conclusion to tie up everything that you have mentioned and make an accurate and full summary. In a descriptive essay conclusion, you should sum up your main thoughts and explain the general impressions or thesis using new words. Your conclusion is the last chance to impress readers.
  8. As a rule, you may ask to write a descriptive essay outline. It is written to detail the main points that will be described in the writing. Before you start writing an outline, it is important to understand the structure of your paper. It will help you to focus on the points that will be included in the descriptive writing outline.

Descriptive Essay Sample

Students who are not able to create essays in an interesting subject based on impressions, literary works, pictures, or videos can read through one of the descriptive essay examples to get some ideas on how to write their own papers. A descriptive essay is one of the most complex forms of a student’s activity and our sample will make it easier for you. In this case it is necessary to begin working on your paper by reading though a sample. Our descriptive writing examples are presented only for viewing, and you can’t present them as your own paper. However, you can use them to get some ideas on how to write your essay.

Click the images to see their full size.

Useful Tips on Writing a Descriptive Essay

  • Start writing your essay with some general details that pertain to your subject. For example, if you choose to write about your childhood, you have to tell where you lived and who you lived with.
  • A competent introduction is required to determine the general theme and the approximate course of the author’s thoughts. In other words, it is necessary to concisely but completely indicate the direction of the essay, raising several questions on which the writer is going to seek answers.
  • There are several simple and efficient ways to get started. For example, if it is a question of a specific person, it will not be superfluous to devote a couple of sentences explaining what this person means to you, smoothly leading to his or her characteristics. You can use rhetorical questions to make your writing more interesting.
  • The most universal version of the introduction contains the author’s own opinion of what he or she is describing, and some lengthy reflections and assessments which are going to be developed in subsequent parts.
  • Then move on to facts that are more focused, which will help your readers to understand your topic.
  • It is also advisable to pay attention to the order of your thoughts in each paragraph. Be sure that they create a common mental picture of your subject. If you manage to describe it in this way, your essay will be successful.
    Concerning the number of paragraphs: of course five paragraphs (including the introduction and conclusion) is enough, but if you have more than three aspects of your subject to talk about, write more!
  • When writing your description, don’t forget that some information is not known by your readers. Avoid talking about topics in a way that does not communicate well to your reader.
  • The main part should logically follow from the introductory paragraph. In the heart of the work, it is necessary to present details to the reader, confirming the point of view set forth in the introduction.
  • The main task is to convince readers that you know what you are writing about. Therefore, the arguments, details, and descriptions need to be stated competently and consistently, starting from the less convincing to the most reliable.
  • Make sure your spelling and grammar is checked thoroughly. For this reason, read your essay several times and perform all necessary corrections.
  • Make sure that you stick to the descriptive writing format. In any case, it may influence your grade.
  • You can use various facts, links, quotes, folk wisdom, and eyewitness testimonies. In this case, each of the above arguments, details, and descriptions must be given a personal assessment, indicating your own point of view.
  • The final part is obliged to give clearly formulated answers to the questions raised in the introduction. It is important to remember that none of the issues raised should be left unanswered. If the author of the essay feels that some theme cannot be supported by arguments and that he or she is unable to draw a competent conclusion, it is better to remove the whole issue from the introduction.
  • Description is, in other words, the characteristic. It is most often used in texts aimed at verbal portraits, characters, and states of characters or the surrounding reality. In the description, qualitative adjectives and verbs in the present tense are abundantly used, as well as many artistic devices, like metaphors, epithets, and comparisons. The form of writing a descriptive essay is quite free and does not have a rigid structural framework.

How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph About a Person’s Appearance

Describing the appearance of a person, his or her face, body, gestures, and clothes, is one of the types of descriptive writing techniques students use. The main thing in this type of description is to find the characteristic features, the main qualities in the appearance of a particular person, and be able to convey them in words. The description of a person’s appearance is one of the most difficult kinds of descriptions.

According to the source in these descriptions, one can single out the description of a person’s appearance from memory, life experience, special observations, from what he or she has read, according to the imagination, or from a picture. The description of a person’s appearance, as well as other types of descriptions, can be scientific, artistic, or for business.

Naturally, not all types of descriptions can be dealt with by students easily. Students should have an idea how to deal with scientific description. The business description needs to be given more attention, since in life the ability to indicate the signs of a person’s face can be useful. In addition, this kind of work, requiring the ability to see the characteristic details of a person’s appearance, develops the skill of observation for students. Much attention should also be paid to the artistic description of a person’s appearance, since work on this type of description is of particular importance for enriching students’ speech.

Work on the description of appearance helps to develop observational skills and increase attention to the people around you, and to enrich the speech of students with “portrait” vocabulary, which they do not know enough. Work on the description of appearances prepares students for writing on literary topics.

What Places to Write About in a Descriptive Essay

If you are assigned to write a descriptive essay about a particular place, it may not be a very difficult task, as we all have beautiful places in our minds. You can write about a place that makes you happy for a long period of time. If you can’t recall a particular place from your memory, try to imagine it. You can write about the place in which you grew up. It can be an apartment, a house, a town, even a whole region. Write about the characteristics and features of the place you are describing. Don’t forget to mention the nature: mountains, forests, meadows, and so on. Write about the animals that live in the place you are describing.

A descriptive piece of writing is like a window into another world. Using creative examples and details, the author can present a scene that can vividly describe a person, place, or thing. The best descriptive paragraph includes all five senses – smell, sight, touch, taste, and hearing. You can see them both in fiction and in scientific literature.

All such pieces of writing include places, persons, or things that have a special meaning to the author. After defining the places or things, authors describe them in a way that is personal to them. While writing descriptive essays, it is important to bind all paragraphs together mentioning the personal value of the thing that is described.

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Descriptive Text Examples

how to do descriptive writing

How to teach descriptive writing

There's no one way to teach descriptive writing. That said, teachers can:

  • Develop descriptive writing skill through modeling and the sharing of quality literature full of descriptive writing.
  • Include lessons such as the ones listed below throughout the year.
  • Call students' attention to interesting, descriptive word choices in classroom writing.

Characteristics of descriptive writing

1. Good descriptive writing includes many vivid sensory details that paint a picture and appeals to all of the reader's senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste when appropriate. Descriptive writing may also paint pictures of the feelings the person, place or thing invokes in the writer. In the video section below, watch a teacher use a Five Senses Graphic Organizer as a planning strategy for descriptive writing.

2. Good descriptive writing often makes use of figurative language such as analogies, similes and metaphors to help paint the picture in the reader's mind.

3. Good descriptive writing uses precise language. General adjectives, nouns, and passive verbs do not have a place in good descriptive writing. Use specific adjectives and nouns and strong action verbs to give life to the picture you are painting in the reader's mind.

4. Good descriptive writing is organized. Some ways to organize descriptive writing include: chronological (time), spatial (location), and order of importance. When describing a person, you might begin with a physical description, followed by how that person thinks, feels and acts.

Language Arts

The Show-Me Sentences lesson plan from ReadWriteThink was created for students in grades 6-12. However, elementary teachers can modify the Show-Me sentences to make them interesting for younger students.

The Writing Fix provides a lesson plan for using Roald Dahl's The Twits as a mentor text to teach descriptive writing.

Teacher Laura Torres created a lesson plan that uses images to jumpstart vivid writing: Three Descriptive Writing Picture Prompts.

Through descriptive writing, a student learns to write paragraphs and essays in a In order to make the descriptive paragraph appealing to the readers, you.

5 Examples of How to Write a Good Descriptive Paragraph

how to do descriptive writing

As a writing teacher, you probably feel like your mantra is “show don’t tell!”  Getting students to write descriptively is a real challenge.  Here are five writing challenges and prompts to try.

You can grab a free descriptive mentor text & analysis here!

1. Do they understand what you mean by descriptive writing? (and can they find it?)

Here is where a mentor text will help.  Provide your students with a few texts that exemplify this.  Great examples aren’t difficult to find; the opening scenes of a dystopia novel or historical fiction text can provide you with great examples – and you only need a paragraph or two. 

I have a worksheet in my resource library that you can use — you can get it here.)

Go through the mentor text with your students, locating and annotating descriptive writing.  I try to focus on sensory words and vivid verbs.  You can make an anchor chart as you go or just have students create their own observation notes as you analyze the text.

But don’t stop there!

Now put your students to work to find their own examples of mentor texts that “show not tell.”   

They don’t have to go any further than your classroom library or their independent reading texts.  Use their sentences to create a class poster of “sentences that show.”  They can also create a “sentence collector” page in their notebooks to record favorite sentences.  (As a side note, this is a great opportunity to reinforce the use of quotes and citing sources!)

Grab a descriptive mentor text & analysis lesson here!

2.  Now, let’s do some descriptive writing! Let’s start with verbs!

Once your students have some examples, give them the opportunity to practice.

Try this:

One of the easiest challenges is to ask students to write a descriptive paragraph (any topic – soccer practice, the lunch room, your locker) and NOT use any verbs of “to be.”   Or — limit them to one or two per paragraph. 

The focus of this activity:

The aim is to help students try out different verbs.

3.  Use the five senses/five sentences

In this challenge, students are asked to write a five sentence description using a different sense in each sentence.

Try this:

Have students write a five sentence description — (their right shoe, backpack, text book, top of their desk, etc.).  When the paragraph is finished, have them revise their writing so that each sentence uses a different sense.

Now, here is where this assignment gets interesting:

Sense of taste!  You don’t want your students to be licking the tops of their desks!  However, by writing, “the golden, honey wood glistens as the sunlight streams across it” does have a sense of taste — honey, right?  You can “taste” it as well as “see” it in your mind as you read.  Use this sense as an opportunity for students to think about word choice in a different way.

The focus of this writing activity:

Students will need to think about their word choice in order to use all five senses.

4.  Gross me out!

One of my favorite exercises in trying to help students “show not tell” is to challenge them to write a gross description. The grossest description wins!

I put a lot of restrictions on this one including:

  • must be about a real event
  • must be 100 – 150 words long – no longer!
  • cannot include anyone in our school

My reasoning:

  • If it’s a real event, students are less likely to write about zombies or TV horror shows.  I want them to write about their own experiences.
  • A 100 word word description is a challenge!  Every word matters.  By limiting the word count, I force students to weigh each word carefully — if it doesn’t bring anything to the party, it must be cut!
  • And, by restricting who can be included, I avoid potential drama.

The focus of this activity:

If your students can gross you out, they are writing descriptively! They will need to use all of their writing skills to create an experience for the reader. How will they do it? Through description.

5.  Take me there – descriptions I can see!

A fun descriptive writing activity is to ask students to bring in a picture (or provide them) of a vacation spot.

Day 1:  Have students write a descriptive paragraph for their pictures.  Encourage them to make them so descriptive that readers will be able to see the picture in their mind.

Collect the writing and pictures.

Day 2:  Hang the pictures up around the room.  Have students work with a partner.  Provide each pair with two descriptive paragraphs that were written the previous day.  Have students read, discuss, and match the description with what they believe is the correct picture.  Allow students to tape descriptions below the pictures.  If there is more than one paragraph that students think belongs with the picture, allow it to be taped below the picture.

Analyze:  Which pictures and descriptions were correctly matched up?  Why?  How did the writer(s) paint the picture in the reader’s mind?

Hints about this assignment:

  • This works well if you teach two sections of the same class.  You can swap the pictures so students are reading and analyzing pictures and writing from the other class.
  • Focus on the writing that is effective.  No negative responses allowed!
  • Use numbers or letters rather than student names to match the photo and writing.

Helping students write descriptively is a huge challenge!  They will remember to do this on an in-class exercise but will forget to apply that skill to their next writing assignment! Consistent practice does help.  By repeating any one of these activities throughout the school year, you will be reinforcing their “showing” skills.

If you need additional writing prompt ideas, you might be interested in creating RAFTS or using a journal jar.  Both great ways to help students practice their writing skills!

What do you think?  Are there activities you use with your students that strengthen their descriptive writing skills?  Let us know in the comments below!

Need a mentor text to teach this? Grab one here!

Want more?  Check out this complete resource for teaching descriptive writing — using mentor texts, sketches, & self-assessments.  Plus more writing support in my shop!

With gratitude,

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by Marypat | 2 Comments

In writing a descriptive essay, first you need to know how to start a descriptive essay. Then you have to make sure that you have the format of the essay at your .

how to do descriptive writing
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