A descriptive essay is just what it sounds like: an essay that describes something. It can be a person, a place, an emotion, a situation, or an event.
Unfortunately, descriptive essays too often turn into boring lists of attributes. To avoid the common pitfalls and help your essay stand out, we’ve provided the following suggestions:
Choosing a good subject is half the battle. The best writers can make the most mundane objects interesting, but while there’s certainly nothing stopping you from testing your writing chops this way, why not start with a more compelling subject? Choose something that catches your eye and it’ll be sure to fire you reader’s imagination as well.
Descriptive essays should make the subject come alive to the reader. In order to put your reader in the scene you need to focus on the details, the tiny details that typically go unnoticed. The greatest writers are masters at observing these minute details. Even if you’re just describing a simple fir tree, ask yourself what makes that particular tree different from all the other fir trees in the world. In other words, what makes your subject completely and utterly unique?
Another way to put your reader in the scene is to appeal to their senses. Your descriptions should let your reader know what your objects looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like, or smells like.
Part of being unique is focusing on specific details and appealing to the senses, but another part of being unique is finding new ways to say the same thing. Don’t use clichéd descriptions. Creative use of adjectives and adverbs can help your writing stand out.
Even better, looking at your subject from an unusual angle gives luster to an otherwise boring description. If you’re looking at a roller coaster, try looking at it from the ground, from inside one of its cars, or from across a wide distance on a clear night. Whatever technique you use, try to find fresh ways to describe your subject.
As will all writing, clarity and conciseness are essential. They’re particularly important in a descriptive essay. There should be nothing convoluted about your language. Your writing should be direct and to the point.
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