A good descriptive essay accomplishes this impact by using a more detailed observation and description. For many people, a description is a way of explaining.
A good descriptive paragraph is like a window into another world. Through the use of careful examples or details, an author can conjure a scene that vividly describes a person, place, or thing. The best descriptive writing appeals to multiple senses at once―smell, sight, taste, touch, and hearing―and is found in both fiction and nonfiction.
In their own way, each of the following writers (three of them students, two of them professional authors) have selected a belonging or a place that holds special meaning to them. After identifying that subject in a clear topic sentence, they proceed to describe it in detail while explaining its personal significance.
On one corner of my dresser sits a smiling toy clown on a tiny unicycle―a gift I received last Christmas from a close friend. The clown's short yellow hair, made of yarn, covers its ears but is parted above the eyes. The blue eyes are outlined in black with thin, dark lashes flowing from the brows. It has cherry-red cheeks, nose, and lips, and its broad grin disappears into the wide, white ruffle around its neck. The clown wears a fluffy, two-tone nylon costume. The left side of the outfit is light blue, and the right side is red. The two colors merge in a dark line that runs down the center of the small outfit. Surrounding its ankles and disguising its long black shoes are big pink bows. The white spokes on the wheels of the unicycle gather in the center and expand to the black tire so that the wheel somewhat resembles the inner half of a grapefruit. The clown and unicycle together stand about a foot high. As a cherished gift from my good friend Tran, this colorful figure greets me with a smile every time I enter my room.
Observe how the writer moves clearly from a description of the head of the clown to the body to the unicycle underneath. There aren't just sensory details for the eyes but also touch, in the description that the hair is made of yarn and the suit of nylon. Certain colors are specific, as in cherry-red cheeks and light blue, and descriptions help to visualize the object: the parted hair, the color line on the suit, and the grapefruit analogy. Dimensions overall help to provide the reader with the item's scale, and the descriptions of the size of the ruffle and bows on the shoes in comparison to what's nearby provide telling detail. The concluding sentence helps to tie the paragraph together by emphasizing the personal value of this gift.
My most valuable possession is an old, slightly warped blond guitar―the first instrument I taught myself how to play. It's nothing fancy, just a Madeira folk guitar, all scuffed and scratched and fingerprinted. At the top is a bramble of copper-wound strings, each one hooked through the eye of a silver tuning key. The strings are stretched down a long, slim neck, its frets tarnished, the wood worn by years of fingers pressing chords and picking notes. The body of the Madeira is shaped like an enormous yellow pear, one that was slightly damaged in shipping. The blond wood has been chipped and gouged to gray, particularly where the pick guard fell off years ago. No, it's not a beautiful instrument, but it still lets me make music, and for that I will always treasure it.
He emphasizes its condition by the number of different descriptions of the wear on the guitar, such as noting its slight warp; distinguishing between scuffs and scratches; describing the effect that fingers have had on the instrument by wearing down its neck, tarnishing frets, and leaving prints on the body; listing both its chips and gouges and even noting their effects on the color of the instrument. The author even describes the remnants of missing pieces. After all that, he plainly states his affection for it.
Gregory is my beautiful gray Persian cat. He walks with pride and grace, performing a dance of disdain as he slowly lifts and lowers each paw with the delicacy of a ballet dancer. His pride, however, does not extend to his appearance, for he spends most of his time indoors watching television and growing fat. He enjoys TV commercials, especially those for Meow Mix and 9 Lives. His familiarity with cat food commercials has led him to reject generic brands of cat food in favor of only the most expensive brands. Gregory is as finicky about visitors as he is about what he eats, befriending some and repelling others. He may snuggle up against your ankle, begging to be petted, or he may imitate a skunk and stain your favorite trousers. Gregory does not do this to establish his territory, as many cat experts think, but to humiliate me because he is jealous of my friends. After my guests have fled, I look at the old fleabag snoozing and smiling to himself in front of the television set, and I have to forgive him for his obnoxious, but endearing, habits.
The writer here focuses less on the physical appearance of her pet than on the cat's habits and actions. Notice how many different descriptors go into just the sentence about how the cat walks: emotions of pride and disdain and the extended metaphor of the dancer, including the phrases the "dance of disdain," "grace," and "ballet dancer." When you want to portray something through the use of a metaphor, make sure you are consistent, that all the descriptors make sense with that one metaphor. Don't use two different metaphors to describe the same thing, because that makes the image you're trying to portray awkward and convoluted. The consistency adds emphasis and depth to the description.
Personification is an effective literary device for giving lifelike detail to an inanimate object or an animal, and Carter uses it to great effect. Look at how much time she spends on the discussions of what the cat takes pride in (or doesn't) and how it comes across in his attitude, with being finicky and jealous, acting to humiliate by spraying, and just overall behaving obnoxiously. Still, she conveys her clear affection for the cat, something to which many readers can relate.
Once in a long while, four times so far for me, my mother brings out the metal tube that holds her medical diploma. On the tube are gold circles crossed with seven red lines each―"joy" ideographs in abstract. There are also little flowers that look like gears for a gold machine. According to the scraps of labels with Chinese and American addresses, stamps, and postmarks, the family airmailed the can from Hong Kong in 1950. It got crushed in the middle, and whoever tried to peel the labels off stopped because the red and gold paint came off too, leaving silver scratches that rust. Somebody tried to pry the end off before discovering that the tube falls apart. When I open it, the smell of China flies out, a thousand-year-old bat flying heavy-headed out of the Chinese caverns where bats are as white as dust, a smell that comes from long ago, far back in the brain.
This paragraph opens the third chapter of Maxine Hong Kingston's "The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts," a lyrical account of a Chinese-American girl growing up in California. Notice how Kingston integrates informative and descriptive details in this account of "the metal tube" that holds her mother's diploma from medical school. She uses color, shape, texture (rust, missing paint, pry marks, and scratches), and smell, where she has a particularly strong metaphor that surprises the reader with its distinctness. The last sentence in the paragraph (not reproduced here) is more about the smell; closing the paragraph with this aspect adds emphasis to it. The order of the description is also logical, as the first response to the closed object is how it looks rather than how it smells when opened.
Inside, the school smelled smartly of varnish and wood smoke from the potbellied stove. On gloomy days, not unknown in upstate New York in this region south of Lake Ontario and east of Lake Erie, the windows emitted a vague, gauzy light, not much reinforced by ceiling lights. We squinted at the blackboard, that seemed far away since it was on a small platform, where Mrs. Dietz's desk was also positioned, at the front, left of the room. We sat in rows of seats, smallest at the front, largest at the rear, attached at their bases by metal runners, like a toboggan; the wood of these desks seemed beautiful to me, smooth and of the red-burnished hue of horse chestnuts. The floor was bare wooden planks. An American flag hung limply at the far left of the blackboard and above the blackboard, running across the front of the room, designed to draw our eyes to it avidly, worshipfully, were paper squares showing that beautifully shaped script known as Parker Penmanship.
In this paragraph (originally published in "Washington Post Book World" and reprinted in "Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art,") Joyce Carol Oates affectionately describes the one-room schoolhouse she attended from first through fifth grades. Notice how she appeals to our sense of smell before moving on to describe the layout and contents of the room. When you walk into a place, its overall smell hits you immediately, if it's pungent, even before you've taken in the whole area with your eyes. Thus this choice of chronology for this descriptive paragraph is also a logical order of narration, even though it differs from the Hong Kingston paragraph. It allows the reader to imagine the room just as if he or she was walking into it.
The positioning of items in relation to other items is on full display in this paragraph, to give people a clear vision of the layout of the place as a whole. For the objects inside, she uses many descriptors of what materials they are made from. Note the imagery portrayed by the use of the phrases "gauzy light," "toboggan," and "horse chestnuts." You can imagine the emphasis placed on penmanship study by the description of their quantity, the deliberate location of the paper squares, and the desired effect upon the students brought about by this location.
Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art." Kindle Edition, Reprint edition, HarperCollins e-books, March 17, 2009.
Learn more about the major features of a descriptive essay writing style. Follow several steps to have a good descriptive essay outline: Gather all topic.
There's no one way to teach descriptive writing. That said, teachers can:
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.
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.
A descriptive essay, as the name implies, is a form of essay that describes something. In this genre, students are assigned the task of describing objects, things, places, experiences, persons, and situations. The students use sensory information to enable readers to use their five senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight to understand the topic of the essay.
As far as clear and concise language is concerned, it is necessary to describe things precisely. Imagery is used to make things seem real and remarkable. The use of the five senses creates the imagery, or a mental picture, for each reader.
A description could be just a paragraph, or it could be longer, as needed to fully describe the thing. However, a descriptive essay has five paragraphs. It is written in a coherent way with a good thesis statement at the end of the introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
“Our Little Store rose right up from the sidewalk; standing in a street of family houses, it alone hadn’t any yard in front, any tree or flower bed. It was a plain frame building covered over with brick. Above the door, a little railed porch ran across on an upstairs level and four windows with shades were looking out. But I didn’t catch on to those. Running in out of the sun, you met what seemed total obscurity inside. There were almost tangible smells — licorice recently sucked in a child’s cheek, dill pickle brine1 that had leaked through a paper sack in a fresh trail across the wooden floor, ammonia-loaded ice that had been hoisted from wet croker sacks and slammed into the icebox with its sweet butter at the door, and perhaps the smell of still untrapped mice.”
This description of the “Little Store” is not only clear and concise, but also has images and sensory information about the store building.
“The hinges creaked when I opened the decrepit case. I was greeted by a cascade of loose horsehair — my bow a victim of mites, the repairman later explained. It was pure agony to twist my fingers into position. But to my astonishment and that of my teenage children — who had never heard me play — I could still manage a sound.
“It turned out, a few days later, that there were 100 people just like me. When I showed up at a local school for rehearsal, there they were: five decades worth of former students. There were doctors and accountants, engineers and college professors. There were people who hadn’t played in decades, sitting alongside professionals like Mr. K.’s daughter Melanie, now a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. There were generations of music teachers.”
In the first paragraph of this descriptive excerpt, the author clearly describes the decrepit nature of the violin case, as well as the damage time has done to the bow. The second paragraph is a description of the characters, and their similarities. Both use sensory information for effective descriptions.
“The yellow mittens I made in seventh-grade home economics proved that I dreamed in color. For the unit on knitting, we were 1 supposed to turn in a pair of mittens. The two hands had to be precisely the same size so that when we held them together, palm to palm, no extra stitches would stick out from the thumb, the tip of the fingers, or the cuff. Somewhere between making the fourth and the fifth mitten to fulfill this requirement, I dreamed that the ball of yellow yarn in my bag had turned green. Chartreuse, leaf, Granny Smith, lime, neon, acid green. The brightness was electric. I woke up knowing that I was, once again, doomed for a D in home ec.”
See the use of colors in this paragraph by Koyoko Mori. This is called “pure description,” in that the description appeals to the senses. The use of word “brightness” in the last line is striking one.
“And this, finally, is why the Taj Mahal must be seen: to remind us that the world is real, that the sound is truer than the echo, the original more forceful than its image in a mirror. The beauty of beautiful things is still able, in these image-saturated times, to transcend imitations. And the Taj Mahal is, beyond the power of words to say it, a lovely thing, perhaps the loveliest of things.”
Check this short description of the Taj Mahal by Salman Rushdie. This description presents a different picture of the Taj Mahal.
A descriptive essay presents a person, place, or thing, in a way that readers feel as if it is in front of their eyes, or that they are tasting it, or that they can hear it, or that they can smell it. Writers use sensory information to describe object. The object of the writer is to present a picture of something as honestly as he can.
For you to come up with a good descriptive essay, you should learn to encrypt a good thesis statement. Writing a thesis is important while starting a sample.
If you have got a task to write a descriptive essay at school or university, it is hardly worth immediately taking a pen and putting thoughts on paper. Experts advise to prepare for writing any academic assignment by taking four steps, following which you can make a work informative and well-structured:
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It is very important to choose the right descriptive topic. What does it mean “the right topic”? Choose an actual topic able to raise interest.
Descriptive essay topics may be either easier or more difficult. Have a look at popular topics.
If you use one of the above mentioned descriptive essay topics, you will definitely attract audience attention. Learn here how to write an effective title.
In case a student has never described anything in the written form, he or she may feel confused being unable to choose an appropriate tone. Don’t have any ideas? Look at the sample before writing a descriptive essay example.
Here you will find short descriptive essay examples:
Descriptive essay sample number 1: “How I want to spend my perfect weekend”
Descriptive essay sample number 2: My ideal house
Use descriptive essay examples if assigned to write about similar topics.
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You may wonder how to write a descriptive essay. There are several things to keep in mind before you write:
Usually, teachers give students a list of literature on the subject. Also, each textbook has a list of bibliographies to search for literary sources (books, magazine and newspaper publications). Get acquainted with the annotation to the publication and read excerpts from the text, only then make a decision to read the whole text. Electronic media will help you to keep abreast of current events and pick up bright living examples to illustrate the reasoning.
The introduction can be considered successful if it performs the following functions:
Choose the most suitable statement that covers all points that you are going to discuss in your work. Use some interesting quotes or citation making your introduction eye-catchy.
Make sure that your thesis statement meets all requirements:
Concluding, follow these recommendations:
Follow several steps to have a good descriptive essay outline:
For example, if you have made your mind to write a description of some place, stick to the following detailed plan:
The more locations you will describe, the more paragraphs your paper will consist of. If you find it difficult to organize your thoughts in the written form and develop a good outline, then you may ask those who know how to do this quickly and effectively by ordering it online.
Creating a successful description, you should use a vivid language to help your reader see the picture. Don’t forget to include different illustrative examples. You will be able to answer the question:” How to write a descriptive essay?” after you know the secret of successful descriptive texts: just make an accent on all sensory organs. Learn here how to write an observation essay.
For example, describing your holidays at the seaside, breathe life into your work and avoid formalism. Use simple, understandable language appealing to your target audience. Help your reader feel how it was great to swim and play with waves. You will succeed if the person reading your paper can feel like being there. In fact, it is a narration with more vivid details. This is the main peculiarity that makes this descriptive type of writing different from a simple narrative paper style. You may notice that compared to a narration, here you won’t see a lot of action. Sometimes there is no movement at all. Your work will contain a minimum of verbs and maximum of adjectives and adverbs.
Want to become a good writer? Then act like a fisherman who is ready to wait for long till he catches a fish. The same is about a writer, who need to be patient hitting the books and then doing his best hooking the reader. Learn here how to avoid the most common mistakes in your essay.
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This tutorial features examples from both fiction and business writing. The theory sounds good. Writing with personality starts with being more descriptive.