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How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Definition of a Descriptive Essay?

Before you try to tackle writing a descriptive essay, it is important to know and understand exactly what constitutes a descriptive essay. By definition, a descriptive essay is a piece of writing intended to fully conjure vivid mental images of a person, a place, or a thing. In many cases a descriptive essay should also portray the mood of the writer. That is, the writer should describe the subject in an emotional manner rather than only describing its physical appearance. Descriptive essays are often regarded as being more creative than various other types of essays because the writer is encouraged to use imaginative language or comparisons in order to elicit vivid mental images in the reader.

Know Your Subject

Whether the [php]echo link_to('topic of your descriptive essay','@topics?page=descriptive-essay')[/php] has been assigned to you or if you can choose the topic yourself, it is absolutely essential to really know your subject before you attempt to begin writing. A good place to start is by jotting down words and phrases you think of when you think about the subject of your essay. If, for example, your topic is your first pet you might start by writing down words such as “furry”, “affectionate”, “companion”, or “white with brown spots”. Next, think of ways to develop these relatively vague terms into phrases that paint a more vivid mental image. In doing so, try to be original and avoid cliches. These notes will help you later as you further develop your essay.

Develop an Outline and Structure

Like most writing projects, the best way to dive into writing a descriptive essay is to work out a rough outline. This will help you figure out exactly what you will be writing about, and it will also help you come up with your essay's structure. Structure is especially important when writing a descriptive essay. Having an outline and knowing how your essay will be structured will keep you on track and help you avoid drifting off topic. When describing something, it is very easy to get carried away and lost in a world of descriptive adjectives and metaphors, but sticking to an outline will help you stay on subject.

Fill in the Details

Once you have your ideas jotted down and you've written a complete outline, its time to put all the pieces together. Start by writing a rough draft. Don't get hung up on crafting creative phrases to draw pictures of all the small details yet. The most important thing now is to format a well-structured and on-topic essay. Once that is done, you will need to go back and add in the more creative parts. When trying to describe things, use abstract as well as concrete ideas and images. Don't use too many adjectives. Doing so can make sentences sound forced or like you are trying to use words as fillers. As a general rule, every word you use should work to enforce the idea that you are trying to convey. If a word doesn't help create a vivid mental image, don't use it.

Edit and Revise

Once your descriptive essay is completed, read over it carefully. Correct any mistakes or awkward sound phrases. Remember, the object of a descriptive essay is to create a detailed mental picture for your readers. If possible have someone else read you essay, and ask for their honest feedback. If your essay draws a mental image for them, then you are on the right track. As with any other type of essay, run a spell check program and double check to make sure there aren't spelling or grammatical errors in your essay.