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        Guide to a Perfect Descriptive Essay [Examples & Outline Included]

        • calenderJul 07, 2023
        • calender 5 min read

        A descriptive essay is the most creative of all essay types. It involves the use of sensory descriptors and impactful narratives to depict an object, person, or even something abstract like an emotion. This type of essay is administered by teachers and professors to gauge your understanding of language. 

        In this article, we will guide you through everything there is to know about descriptive essays. This includes the descriptive essay definition, some descriptive essay topics, and various examples. To help you in your essay-writing process, we have also included an outline of a descriptive essay. 

        But let’s start from the beginning: What is a descriptive essay?

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        What is a descriptive essay?

        A descriptive essay is a highly creative form of writing which describes an object, person, location, experience, emotion, or situation. It makes use of vivid imagery and different figures of speech to create a beautiful and immersive experience for the reader.

        This type of essay is often assigned in creative writing courses in schools or colleges. It does not involve the presentation of arguments or information. It just involves creatively expressing yourself with the help of various language devices. 

        Unlike a narrative essay which involves telling a story, a descriptive essay only focuses on one particular object or idea. Although most essay topics are non-fictional, descriptive essay topics can either be fictional or non-fictional. 

        Let us look at a few examples of topics for a descriptive essay.

        Also read: What Is an Essay? 

        Descriptive essay topics

        Since writing a descriptive essay is a creative form of writing, it can cover a wide range of topics. These topics can range from practical experiences such as “My Grandpa’s Couch” to thought experiments such as “Living in a world with no concept of time”. 

        Here are a few more descriptive essay topics:

        • Exploring a ghost town
        • A starry night in the mountains
        • A day in the life of an explorer
        • Trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
        • Wandering through the Swiss meadows 
        • My childhood home
        • Memories of grandma’s farm
        • Experiencing euphoria for the first time
        • My description of utopia
        • My most treasured possession

        Descriptive essay structure

        Since descriptive essays are highly creative in nature, the descriptive essay structure is much more fluid as compared to most academic essay types. Although they do follow a general structure, there is no specific descriptive essay format. It serves more as a guideline than a hard and fast rule. 

        Descriptive essays generally don’t revolve around proving a point or making an argument. The goal is to simply provide a vivid and detailed description of a particular subject.   

        Let’s study the basic structure of a descriptive essay:

        1. Introduction

        Wondering how to start a descriptive essay? Like all essay types, the introduction of a descriptive essay is composed of three key elements: A hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. 

        However, the thesis statement of a descriptive essay is different from the thesis statements of most academic essays. It simply makes a claim regarding the subject of your choosing.

        Here’s an example of a descriptive essay introduction: 

        1. Hook
        2. Background information
        3. Thesis statement

        The last day of school—a momentous occasion that marks the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work and growth. Excitement hangs in the air as students gather for one final day of shared experiences and unforgettable memories. The hallways buzz with chatter and laughter, mingling with the anticipation of summer freedom. It’s a day of mixed emotions, as the promise of lazy days ahead clashes with the bittersweet farewell to teachers and classmates who have become like family. The last day of school is a mosaic of emotions, a snapshot of a moment that holds the weight of an entire academic journey, and a prelude to the new adventures that lie just beyond the horizon.

        2. Body paragraph 

        A descriptive essay usually has three body paragraphs. However, the length and number of paragraphs may vary depending on the complexity and scope of your essay topic. 

        A body paragraph comprises of a topic sentence that focuses on a particular aspect of the subject. The topic sentence is elaborated upon by sensory, contextual, and emotional descriptors. Each paragraph ends with a transition sentence that provides context for the next paragraph.  

        Let’s understand this better with the help of an example: 

        1. Topic sentence
        2. Description
        3. Transition sentence

        Classrooms brim with finality and accomplishment. Doodles and scribbles now grace once-neat desks, testifying to idle daydreams and shared laughter. Colorful displays and academic achievements adorn the walls, silently witnessing each student’s growth. Empty lockers echo the countless exchanges and whispered secrets they once held. Yearbooks circulate like cherished artifacts, pages filled with smiling faces and heartfelt messages. Laughter and hugs fill the hallways as friends make promises to keep in touch and embark on summer adventures. The last day of school etches indelible memories, a tapestry of nostalgia and celebration that encapsulates the joy, camaraderie, and growth of their academic journey.

        3. Conclusion

        The conclusion of your essay should begin with the restatement of your thesis statement along with its broader implications. You can then provide a quick summary of all the important aspects mentioned in the body paragraphs. 

        Finally, you can end your essay with a powerful statement or a clincher. This can include anything from a powerful lesson to a thought-provoking quote. The goal is to leave the reader with something to think about.

        Here’s an example: 

        1. Restated thesis statement
        2. Summary of body paragraphs
        3. Concluding statement

        As the final bell echoes through the hallways and students scatter in all directions, school leaves behind a lingering sense of closure and anticipation. It is a day filled with mixed emotions—a blend of nostalgia for the memories created, gratitude for the knowledge gained, and excitement for the new chapter that awaits. The last day of school symbolizes a milestone in each student’s journey, marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. It is a time to reflect on the growth, challenges overcome, and friendships forged along the way. The last day of school is not an end, but rather a stepping stone towards new horizons, where each student will continue to learn, explore, and thrive.

        Now that we’ve understood how to structure a descriptive essay, let’s figure out how to write it!

        How to write a descriptive essay

        In order to write a perfect descriptive essay you must effectively make use of multiple creative writing devices. These creative writing devices include figures of speech, imagery, sensory and emotional descriptors, as well as evocative language.  

        If you find the essay writing process challenging, we’re here to equip you with essential tips on writing a descriptive essay. Let’s take a look at how to write a descriptive essay: 

        1. Use figures of speech

        Literary devices such as similies, metaphors, and imagery are creative devices that describe an object or a person in a figurative sense. These creative devices add an element of interest to your essay, making it more vivid, vibrant, and colorful. 

        The use of figures of speech can turn an otherwise boring piece of writing into a masterpiece. Take a look at the following example:

        On that spot stood an old banyan tree with thick bark and intertwining branches.

        Although this example is a good start, it can be made much more interesting with the use of figures of speech.

        On that spot stood an old banyan tree with its resolve as strong as iron. Its arms intertwined as they reached for the skies, yearning for the sun.  

        The use of literary devices such as personification and metaphor makes the banyan tree in the second example come to life. This is how you can make your writing more vivid, descriptive, and poetic.

        2. Use your senses

        Sensory descriptors are one of the most important aspects of a descriptive essay. The key is to make the reader experience what you’ve experienced. This means appealing to all five senses of the reader. 

        Although the visual aspect is important, you should also focus on how something sounds, feels, and smells. The experience of touching, smelling, or feeling something is more evocative than simply viewing it. 

        Some sensory descriptors are used in a literal sense:

        The smell of rain in July takes me back to my childhood. The pitter-patter reminds me of my mother’s footsteps, bringing us delicious snacks. 

        They can also be used metaphorically:

        The beautiful, cold gaze of the moon stunned us all.

        3. Use evocative language

        It is a good idea to use strong, evocative language that conveys an intense action or emotion. Creative use of words is an important factor in writing a descriptive essay since passive language leads to a dull, boring essay.  Let’s take a look at the following sentences: 

        The 100-meter race was completed by Usain Bolt in under 10 seconds.

        Usian Bolt whizzed through the 100-meter race in under 10 seconds!

        The use of the word “completed” indicates no action and the use of passive voice makes the example dull. On the other hand, the phrase “whizzed through” indicates speed and intensity which makes the second example much more interesting to read.

        Now that we’ve understood the different methods of writing a descriptive essay, let’s understand its outline.

        Descriptive essay outline

        The outline of a descriptive essay is less structured compared to most academic essay types. It merely serves as a guideline that you can use to flesh out your essay. It also helps you develop a coherent structure and logical flow for your topic sentences. 

        In order to help you further develop your essay, we’ve created an outline for your reference. The following descriptive essay outline revolves around the nostalgia experienced when going through an old diary.

        Turning the Pages of Time

        I. Introduction

        A. Hook: Engaging opening sentence to grab the reader’s attention.

        B. Background: Briefly explain the significance of finding your old diary and the memories associated with it.

        C. Thesis statement: Clearly state the main idea of the essay, highlighting the emotional journey of rediscovering your old diary.

        II. The discovery

        A. Setting the scene: Describe the circumstances and location where you stumbled upon your old diary.

        B. Initial emotions: Express the range of emotions that flooded your mind upon finding the diary.

        C. Anticipation: Share the anticipation and curiosity about what lies within the pages of the diary.

        III. The diary’s contents

        A. Opening the pages: Describe the physical act of opening the diary and the smell and texture of the pages.

        B. Memories unfolded: Reflect on the memories and experiences captured in the diary entries.

        C. Emotional impact: Discuss the emotional response evoked by reading your own words and reliving past moments.

        IV. Nostalgic reflections

        A. Time traveling: Explain how reading the diary transported you back to the time and place when the entries were written.

        B. Reconnecting with your past self: Describe the process of reconnecting with your past self and reevaluating your thoughts and experiences.

        C. Lessons and insights: Highlight any valuable lessons, self-discoveries, or personal growth revealed through the diary’s contents.

        V. Resonating with present self

        A. Relevance to current life: Discuss how the insights and reflections from the diary still resonate with your present self.

        B. Perspective shifts: Explain any shifts in perspective or newfound understanding that arose from revisiting the diary.

        C. Appreciation: Express gratitude for the diary and its role in preserving and enriching your personal history.

        VI. Cherishing the rediscovery

        A. Preservation: Discuss the steps you took to preserve and protect the diary after finding it.

        B. Future reflections: Share your intentions and plans for continuing the habit of journaling or preserving personal memories.

        C. Closing thoughts: Reflect on the lasting impact of finding your old diary and the value of personal reflection and self-expression.

        VII. Conclusion

        A. Recap: Summarize the emotional journey of rediscovering your old diary.

        B. Significance: Emphasize the personal and emotional significance of reconnecting with your past self through the diary.

        C. Closing remarks: Conclude with a reflection on the power of personal artifacts and the importance of preserving one’s history.

        Now that we have taken a look at the descriptive essay structure let’s look at an example.

        Descriptive essay example

        To help you better understand the process of descriptive essay writing, we’ve constructed an example. The following example revolves around an imaginary situation. It describes the writer’s voyage through the cosmos.

        Exploring the Cosmos

        As the rocket engines ignited, the powerful thrust propelled us into the vast expanse of space. The vibrations rattled through the cabin, merging with the palpable anticipation that filled the air. We were embarking on a remarkable journey through the cosmos, leaving behind the familiarity of Earth and venturing into the unknown.

        Outside the small window, the twinkling stars grew brighter, casting a mesmerizing glow on the infinite darkness. The view was awe-inspiring as if we were floating amidst a sea of diamonds, each one beckoning us to explore its mysteries. The depth and grandeur of space stretched out before us, reminding us of the minuscule nature of our existence in the universe.

        As we traversed through the cosmic void, weightlessness engulfed our bodies, releasing us from the Earth’s gravitational pull. Every movement became a ballet, effortlessly gliding from one corner of the spacecraft to another. The sensation was both exhilarating and disorienting as if the boundaries of physical limitations had dissolved.

        The silence in space was profound, a symphony of tranquility. Without the interference of atmospheric sounds, we were left with the gentle hum of the spaceship’s systems and the rhythmic beating of our own hearts. It was a humbling reminder of the vastness and serenity that lay beyond our home planet.

        Farther into our journey, celestial bodies came into view, captivating us with their sheer beauty. The fiery hues of neighboring planets illuminated the darkness, displaying their own distinct personalities. We marveled at the majestic rings of Saturn, a delicate masterpiece encircling the giant planet, and the crimson swirls of Jupiter, a tempestuous giant with its own cosmic dance.

        Time seemed to lose its grip on the vastness of space. Hours felt like mere moments as we traveled through light-years, witnessing the unimaginable beauty of celestial phenomena. We were reminded of the sheer magnitude of the cosmos, a testament to the wonders that lie beyond our earthly confines.

        Eventually, the time came for us to return to our home planet. As we reentered Earth’s atmosphere, the fiery descent illuminated the sky, marking our triumphant return. The journey through space left an everlasting mark on our souls, forever changing our perception of our place in the universe.

        Our journey was more than a physical exploration; it was a voyage of wonder and introspection. It taught us the fragility and interconnectedness of all things and ignited an insatiable curiosity to continue unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos. We were forever transformed by the immensity and beauty that awaited us beyond our pale blue dot in the vast expanse of space.

        After writing the essay, it’s important to edit and proofread it, which is a not easy. If you find essay editing challenging, you can consider taking the help of an essay editing service.  

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        Nandita Linkedin

        Nandita is a budding writer with a background in Psychology. She adores mysterious movies with unusual plots, cozy coffee houses, and any conversation involving Agatha Christie!

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