A Step-by-step Guide On How To Write A Descriptive Essay


Before learning how to write a descriptive essay, let’s find out what it actually is. The main aim of such assignment is to describe a person, object, event, or process. The author should arrange a gripping reading experience or just show it using a relevant metaphor.

If you want to create a really good descriptive essay, you must appeal to five common senses like smell, hearing, taste, sight, and touch: Ann’s teacup broke out into lots of pieces, attracting all employees’ attention to the office.  This is a key feature of all stunning papers.

In simpler words, you should paint a vivid picture for a reader, covering all five senses. Moreover, you should have a definite purpose. Choose what you want. It may be either a story of how a particular object affected your entire life or the situation that helped you gain some important lesson. In the long run, you should get a vivid picture.

What to Describe in a Descriptive Essay?

If you have no idea what to describe in your future paper, then look at a few ideas. These are what you can use as a central idea:

  • An event. Here you may talk about one of the events that happened to you. This may be a wedding, last vacation, graduation day, concert, etc. Think well about what event has the largest impact on you.
  • A person. Such a descriptive essay will focus on a definite person. You can either talk about general things like appearance or choose more complicated aspects like mood, actions, etc.
  • A place. If you are going to choose a place as a central idea of your descriptive essay, then you need to talk about it in an unusual, gripping way. The readers should feel all details like if they visit this place too.
  • A behavior. If you want to tell how various people act under certain conditions or describe your friend’s behavior, then this is a nice idea for an interesting descriptive essay.
  • An occupation. Such papers will focus on occupation or job.
  • An animal. Here, you will talk about a certain animal, its biology, appearance, etc.

A Descriptive Essay: Two Classic Approaches

You should fully realize the difference between a descriptive essay and a simple description while preparing the assignment. The latter includes a short paragraph with no definite structure. Unlike it, a descriptive essay is made of at least five paragraphs and has a strict organization. Also, there are two classical approaches to the descriptive essay.

Formal Description

This form looks like an argumentative essay. It has a clear structure that you need to adhere to and describe all points in detail. It must not present any personal experience, and instead, you need to consider particular categories of data and present the fullest picture of what you are talking about.

A formal description can also engage the readers and make them more curious, especially if they do not care about the author’s response to the subject but just want to learn more about it. Nevertheless, you should be careful with the language and do not use too formal phrases in this descriptive essay. Otherwise, your readers will feel too bored.

Here are a few topics that better suit a formal approach to a descriptive essay:

  • A news story that introduces a summary of a particular event or data about the place where it was.
  • A paper about politics, climate change, etc.

Personal Description

This approach is the best option in case you want to describe your own experience. As a result, the readers will get special feelings and empathy. You risk making your assignment disorganized. It is recommended to choose the aspects that can impact your target readers most of all. What is an example of a descriptive essay? Look here:

  • Describing your favorite film and its influence on you
  • Talking about your experience of swimming in the ocean
  • Explaining what things shaped you in the past

Descriptive Essay: Top Topics and Ideas

How do you start a descriptive essay? The answer is simple. You need to start with selecting a good topic. Luckily, there is a wide choice of nice ideas. Look at a few ones that will help you start easier.

Describe a person. Select the person who you know well. In this case, you will not experience a lack of information. It can be somebody from your family, friends or relatives. You may also select any celebrity who shares a personal life on social media platforms so that you know many details. Spiderman or any other superhero will also be a nice option as you have both non-academic and academic perspectives. For example:

  • Why is my mother, my favorite person?
  • How did Taylor Swift impact my life?

Describe some place/object. You can choose any place that you feel a special connection with. It may be either a fictional place or a real one like a playground, school, etc. Or, you can take an object, for example, a toy that scared you, and describe it. For example:

  • My trip to Paris last summer
  • The worst toy I got as my birthday present

Describe an emotion. Recall the sincerest emotion that you have ever experienced during your lifetime. It may be anger, love, passion, etc. It should not be obligatory personal; you can discuss any of your emotions in general. For instance:

  • How loss changed me
  • Love and passion – must they go together?

All in all, you can craft a descriptive essay about everything you want in terms of the five above-mentioned senses.

How Do You Write a Descriptive Essay?

Once you think of how a good descriptive essay must look, you need to mind a clear outline. It will be your golden ticket on the train called success. An outline will assist in arranging all your thoughts and make a general flow smooth. What are the elements of a descriptive essay?

A good one includes the following elements:

  • An introductory part (a hook sentence, some background details, thesis statement)
  • Main body (topic sentence, extra details, main details)
  • A conclusion (a summary, final statement)

Devote enough time to choosing the main object/subject of your descriptive essay as all your phrases will be based on this.


The introductory part’s main purpose is to present the subject of your essay to the target readers. You need to give them enough details to catch the idea of the entire work. Exactly this part may help your paper stand out from the crowd. Hence, you should do it interesting but brief enough to attract the attention of the target audience. Just like any other college project, a descriptive essay must include the following elements:

  • Hook sentence: the paper must include some vivid details so that to grab the reader’s attention, setting the appropriate mood.
  • Background details: some context will explain to the audience what you are going to talk about and why you have chosen exactly this idea.
  • Thesis statement: this part must summarize all your work and present it in a short form. Include the description subject and your purpose to talk about it.

The following examples will help you better catch the idea:


In case you are going to focus on Buckingham Palace: “Despite a long period the monarchy is existing, the Buckingham Palace reminds the visitors about the beauty of times when it was built”.


A personal story of success from real life: “My first professional triumph happened when I was only 19 years old and worked as a secretary…”.


While talking about Spider-Man: “The characteristics that always go with Spider-Man are New York, youthfulness and his habit to talk to himself constantly even more than Hamlet”.

Body Paragraphs

Usually, a descriptive essay includes at least three paragraphs that reveal various arguments or points. Anyway, the total number of paragraphs depends either on your decision or on the professor’s requirements. Some stories need a few paragraphs, while some require whole books to be described.

Tips on writing a body paragraph:

  • You can use a topic sentence for presenting your idea. For instance: The orange seems to be familiar. The form of this citrus is round, and the color sounds the same as the name.
  • Include sensory description. Add phrases that appeal to senses while describing orange.
  • Mention actual details. Descriptive information is a must for body paragraphs. Each one must end with the introduction of the next paragraph. Mind using good transition sentences since they create a gripping effect for the entire text. It will become better and will not be associated with an ordinary list of facts.


It is the final part of every descriptive essay. You need to summarize all points that you have discussed in the paper and come up with the last sentence that relates to the central point of your text. When it is ready, you can say that the paper is finished. Still, you need to do a few more things to make your essay stand out from the crowd. Mind these effective tips while working with your conclusion:

  • You need to go back to the very beginning and state once again why you have chosen exactly this topic. Do not forget to mention the impact of the described subject on your life.
  • State the importance of details. Remind some fundamental moments of the text and come up with a short summary. Make some preparations so that the readers have an appropriate mood to read a final statement.
  • The final statement may be arranged in two ways. In the first case, it will summarize all ideas and provide a clear conclusion. Or, you can leave your target audience with a question, thought, or a quote. Perhaps you have spent a lot of time deciding on an essay hook to grab the readers’ attention, so do not change your storyline.

Writing and Checking Descriptive Essay

You need to go through each writing step to be sure that your paper includes all important elements and looks awesome. All in all, you need to mind such stages:

  • Pre-writing stage. Before starting to craft the essay itself, you need to look through all sources of information that you find to be significant for your paper.
  • Crafting the beginning. Using a catchy essay hook at the very beginning increases your chances of attracting the readers’ attention. There are many types of essay hooks, so you just need to choose which one matches your idea better. It may be some metaphor, a quote, anecdote, etc.
  • Writing the first draft. Now you can take a piece of paper and write down all ideas and words that come to your mind. In this way, you will be able to narrow down your thoughts and understand what to focus on.
  • Including details. At this stage, using English vocabulary is recommended. You can look up words that will help you better describe feelings and emotions related to the five senses.
  • Proofreading the text. You can ask somebody else to check your text and make some verdict on whether it has any mistakes. Also, applying online tools will be a good option for you to make sure the text is error-free.

Mind one important tip. Once your paper is completed, you need to have a rest and only then check it. Otherwise, the chances that you will identify possible weak points and improve them are very low.

Helpful Questions for Writing a Descriptive Essay

Use these questions to enhance the paper quality:

  1. Did you add enough background information into the introductory part?
  2. Is the text easy-to-read?
  3. Will the final statement set a lasting impact?
  4. Does the thesis statement relate to the paper content?
  5. Are punctuation and grammar rules followed strictly?
  6. Does the text include any details that may be omitted or replaced with other more important information?
  7. Does each paragraph focus on only one description aspect?
  8. Did you use descriptive, enough vivid language?
  9. If you are a reader, will this essay impact you?
  10. Did you include enough details to make the paper perceptive?

You can find many online apps like Hemingway or Grammarly to polish the grammar in your text. However, it’s recommended to master grammatical rules and become a skilled writer to be confident of project quality. After finishing the paper, read it out loud to look at the text from another angle.

Descriptive Essay Good Example

Look at the extract from a good descriptive essay called “What is it Like to Play Rugby”:

In the eyes of an inexperienced rugby fan, it is just a sort of game in which lots of huge individuals fight each other, trying to reach a rival team’s goal line. The players do not use pads and get numerous injuries while playing. While some people recognize rugby to be rough, the individuals who go in for this sport are real gentlemen who keep a good attitude towards each other.

To the person who plays rugby, it is a really cool game. The sportsmen believe that the absence of extra equipment reduces the risks for hard injuries, resulting only in bruises, bloody noses, etc.

Here, the author wanted to grab the audience’s attention at once, so he used a topic sentence. Readers can understand what this descriptive essay will focus on, hence adjust their mood accordingly.

Benefit from Professional Writing Assistance

Not all people are very expressive writers, and it is quite a common thing. You do not have to waste days and nights trying to craft interesting, catchy text if you lack time, desire, or inspiration. You can always approach a professional writing company and order a descriptive essay from a skilled author.

Placing the order and providing requirements is a matter of a few minutes, and as a result, you will get a stunning essay that will surely melt your teacher’s heart. Despite which option you choose, to write on your own, or apply for professional assistance, check a ready version several times to make sure you have followed all the above-mentioned tips.

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