Answer Internal Staff
A descriptive essay is a very distinct type of work: many essays involve a critical dimension, in that they ask you to examine an existing item, phenomenon or idea and identify its strengths and limitations, as well as bringing in other outside evidence to support your conclusion. Instead of this, a descriptive essay creates a vivid picture of a person, place or thing. These are often required in creative classes, as they are an exercise in using language to illuminate something for your reader. Below are some really useful tips for completing a descriptive essay:
- Using vivid language really helps to bring a descriptive essay to life. For example, instead of using the word ‘cold,’ you could use: ‘freezing’, ‘icy’, ‘bitter’, ‘piercing’ and any number of other synonyms.
- Follow the classic advice: ‘show, don’t tell’. You can use devices like simile and metaphor to help you do this as well as more traditional description. For example, instead of saying, ‘she was nice’, you could say ‘her kind smile was evidence of the warmth she exuded.’
- Make use of the five senses in your writing. Focus on what your reader would be able to see, hear, smell, taste or touch if they were in the situation you’re writing about. If your piece was about a beach, you could talk about ‘the echoing calls of the seagulls,’ ‘the tang of salt that lingered in the air,’ or ‘the vast, rippling ocean which seemed to stretch out forever.’
- Though your writing is descriptive, make sure your ideas have a logical structure: even though there are not any ‘rules’ about structuring a descriptive essay, there should be flow present in the writing. A collection of haphazard observations is never a good essay: instead, make sure that one idea leads onto another.