How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Essay writing is part of any academic activity. From grade school through college, you will often be asked to write descriptive essays so it’s important to understand what a descriptive essay is and how to write one.

What Is a Descriptive Essay?

A descriptive essay is a type of essay that requires the writer to describe something whether that thing is an object, a person, experience, or a situation. Through descriptive writing, the writer describes the situation in such a way that the reader can see and feel the situation, almost as if the reader is interacting with the object or thing as they read. All of the human senses are given importance while writing such an essay. The reader is able to understand the situation clearly because of illustrative language and the writer should be able to convey the same using crisp and clear language.

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

How to write a descriptive essay is something that most of the students and first-time writers ponder when they first are asked to write a descriptive essay. They may have a situation in hand, but conveying the same to the reader without losing the situation’s true essence is tricky. Here are seven steps you should follow to write a descriptive essay that conveys the idea in your mind:

Understand the audience

The first and foremost step to writing a descriptive essay is to understand the audience for whom you are writing. The tone of the essay depends on the audience. If the audience is small children, then the description should contain simple words that small children are able to comprehend. For a more mature audience, the tone can be slightly formal. If it is academic writing, the essay should be formal.

Choose the topic

Having a good understanding of the audience will help you a lot in selecting the right topic for your essay. First, choose a few topics and brainstorm some more topics using those initial topics as seeds. We have a great writing prompt generator that you can utilize for this purpose.

Ask yourself questions about the topics and see whether you are able to answer them. This will provide a clear understanding as to how deep you know about the topic. The more you know about a topic, the easier it will be to write about it. Do some research online so that you are able to bridge the knowledge gap. Remember to take note of the source of the information as you might have to refer to the sources in your essay.

Create a draft

The next step in writing a descriptive essay is to create an outline of your essay. An outline provides a flexible structure within which you can write about your topic. This structure should be clearly subdivided so that the right picture can be conveyed to the reader. For example, if you are writing a descriptive essay about an event, it should be drafted in chronological order. For essays about a person or place, you can transition from a generic to a specific topic. Always use transition words to make your essay more logical and to connect various ideas. All senses of the human body such as sight, sound, taste, smell, and feel should be considered while writing the draft. School students are normally asked to write a five-paragraph descriptive essay whereas college students have more liberty with regards to choosing the number paragraphs.

Write the essay

This is the stage in which you elaborate on the outline and write your detailed descriptive essay. If you get stuck, check out some of these techniques.

Write the introduction

A descriptive essay should have a good introduction that captures the attention of the readers and which conveys the main idea of the essay.

Supporting paragraphs

Next comes an overview of the topics covered and then your detailed description. You can divide your description into various sections if required. You may have a specific paragraph requirement or you may be free to have as many or as few paragraphs as you want. Regardless, each paragraph should cover a specific topic.

The descriptions should include similes, adjectives, analogies, and metaphors. For example, instead of writing “I heard the sound of the waves,” you can write “I heard the roaring gush of water splashing against the bank.” While writing the descriptive essay, you should “show” the reader what the situation is rather than telling them. Thus, emotion plays an important role in writing a descriptive essay. Always use the same tense and do not switch between past and present tense, unless required.

Write the conclusion

The essay should be concluded by providing your viewpoint about the topics discussed. The conclusion should be precise and to the point and should be written using appealing words because this is the last thing your reader will read in your essay.

Review the essay

A review should be done after you come out of the hangover of topic. Take a short break so that the description and the characters in it leave your mind. Go through the essay with a fresh mind so that you can view the essay from a reader’s point of view. Is it easy to understand the language of the essay? Are you able to convey the ideas in your mind clearly? Do you need to rewrite any of the paragraphs in the description as it is not clear? Does any of the paragraph appear to be too confusing than descriptive? These are but few of the things you should consider during the review phase. You can read out the essay loud to get a clear picture.

Editing stage

This is the stage when you get the descriptive essay proofread by someone. If you are a student, you can do it yourself. Correct any grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. Jargon, if any, should be edited. If there are any alien words used in the essay, remember to provide a proper introduction during the editing stage. At this stage, you can change the style of writing, if you want. Read the description one final time before submitting it for publishing. You can also do a final plagiarism checking to ensure that there is no duplication of any sentences.

Final submission

This depends on who you are and what the purpose of writing is. Always remember that experience is the best teacher. You might make some flaws in the first or second time. But take it as a learning phase and try to make up the flaws next time you write an essay.


Descriptive essay writing might appear to be a cumbersome task initially. But it is not so if proper attention is given to the above steps. If you are a school or college student and is required to write the essay as part of your assessment, then you can do homework before appearing for the final assessment. If you are a writer, then after writing your essay hand it over to someone to read. This way you will be able to understand the flaws in your writing and improvise on the same. Whatever the purpose of the writing is to make sure that the descriptive essay follows a chronological or generic to a specific order for easy understanding.

If you are a writer, then after writing your essay hand it over to someone else to read. This way you will be able to understand the flaws in your writing and improve on your writing skills. Whatever the purpose of the writing is, make sure that the descriptive essay follows a chronological or generic to a specific order for easy understanding.

How to Write Other Types of Essays

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