How to Write a Descriptive Essay Like a Pro: Comprehensive Guide


Unlike narrative essays that reveal meaning through personal stories, descriptive essays reveal meaning through detailed sensory observation, creating a vivid picture in the reader’s mind and engaging all their senses. Today’s article will focus on the definition of a descriptive essay and its structure and offer helpful tips on writing one that satisfies high academic standards.

What Is a Descriptive Essay?

A descriptive essay is a type of writing that portrays an object, a person, a place or an experience. The primary goal of this type of paper is to provide readers with detailed sensory impressions and create a mental picture using descriptive language for them to feel as though they are experiencing the subject firsthand.

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Key features of descriptive essay are figurative, rich language, organised structure, clear thesis statement and immersive tone.

Examples of descriptive essay topics can include describing a memorable travel experience, a childhood memory, a favourite place, an object with sentimental value or a significant event.

Purpose of a Descriptive Essay

As with any other essay type, descriptive essay writing is meant to facilitate your writing and critical thinking skills. However, this isn’t all. To complete the task successfully, you will also need to analyse the object and note down what makes it unique, different and notable. For example, if you are writing about a piece of music, you will need to speak about things like melody, beat, rhythm, lyrics, tempo, harmony, general message, etc. This task will call for the ability to observe, notice, analyse and then verbalise one’s feelings and put them on paper.

Descriptive Essay Structure

In terms of structure, descriptive essays are no different from regular five-paragraph essays. This means they should consist of an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and a concluding paragraph.

This is the basic outline for descriptive essay:

1. Introduction

  • A hook to grab the attention of the reader.
  • Brief description of the topic.
  • Thesis that includes the main points of the paper.

2. Body

  • Topic sentence that discusses the aspect to be described.
  • A detailed description of the aspect that includes sensory details such as sound, sight, touch, smell and taste.
  • Explanation of the overall importance of the aspect.

3. Conclusion

  • Reiteration of the essay’s thesis and summing up of the main points.
  • A final thought or impression.

Remember, the key to a winning descriptive essay is to engage the reader’s senses and create a vivid mental picture. Appeal to emotions and ensure that your paper has a clear and organised structure and you’re halfway to success!

Steps to Crafting a Compelling Introduction for a Descriptive Essay

Creating an effective introduction for your descriptive essay is as crucial as choosing a good topic and adequately structuring your writing, as it sets the tone and establishes the framework for the reader’s experience. Here are the steps to help you create an engaging introduction:

  • Begin your introduction with an effective description, surprising fact, quotation or rhetorical question.
  • Offer brief background information to contextualise your subject.
  • Clearly introduce the subject of your descriptive essay.
  • Present a concise thesis statement that outlines your descriptive essay’s main focus or purpose.
  • Set the mood for your descriptive essay by carefully choosing descriptive words that evoke a specific atmosphere.
  • Ensure a smooth transition from the introductory paragraph to the body of your essay.
  • Appeal to the reader’s senses by incorporating descriptive details that create a mental image.

Here’s a good example to consider:

“The air was thick with the scent of blooming flowers, and the soft murmur of leaves rustling in the gentle breeze created a soothing melody. As the first rays of the morning sun painted the sky in hues of gold and pink, I found myself standing at the entrance of the enchanting botanical garden. This oasis of tranquillity, with its vibrant flora and colours, is a testament to the captivating beauty of nature. In this essay, I will delve into the intricacies of this magical garden, exploring its hidden corners and unveiling the sensory delights that await those who step into its embrace.”

How to Write a Conclusion for a Descriptive Essay

Writing a conclusion for a descriptive essay involves summarising the main points, reinforcing the subject’s significance and leaving a lasting impression on the reader. Here are steps to help you write an effective conclusion for your descriptive essay:

  • Restate the main idea of your essay.
  • Provide a summary of the key points you discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Emphasise why the subject of your essay is meaningful or memorable and connect it back to the central theme.
  • Reflect on the experience and consider its impact on you or its broader significance.
  • Craft a closing sentence that leaves the reader with something to ponder (a thought-provoking idea, call to action or a reflection on the broader implications).

Here’s an excellent example to consider:

“In conclusion, the majestic sunset over the rolling hills not only provided a breathtaking visual spectacle but also served as a poignant reminder of the transient beauty of life. As the colours faded into the horizon, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fleeting nature of moments and the importance of cherishing each experience. The golden hues and warm embrace of the fading sunlight left an indelible mark on my memory, a reminder that beauty often lies in the simplest of things.”

How to Make Descriptive Essay: Writing Process

Writing a descriptive essay requires a lot of work, and once you realise this, you’ll be able to come up with a great final draft.

These are the typical stages you can follow to ensure a compelling paper:

1. Prewriting

During this stage, you’ll need to think about what you want to describe and why. Do you want to write about a significant person in your life? Or a place that holds meaning? It could be your parent, a tree house or your favourite toy.

Once you settle on the topic, consider the qualities you want to describe and brainstorm all associated ideas.

2. Drafting

While drafting your essay, ensure you follow the outline, but remember your ultimate goal: to give your reader a wealth of experience with the topic. In a descriptive essay, you show, not tell, and the best way to do this is to involve all the senses. Write so that your reader can have a clear picture of the sunset in their mind, hear the song or smell the flowers outside. Elements of a descriptive essay, such as similes and metaphors, will work perfectly in your descriptive essay.

3. Revision

Once you finish the draft, it’s time to review, modify and reorganise your work. Pay close attention to how the essay unfolds and ensure the paragraphs describe the topic.

Did you give enough details for the reader to have a complete picture? Always keep your reader in mind whenever you write.

4. Editing

This is where you proofread and correct any mistakes and inconsistencies you spot. Watch out for the clichés, too.
A good idea is to have a friend read your essay so that you can see it from a different perspective and make sure it makes sense to someone else.

Approaches to Descriptive Essay Writing

When creating a description essay, writers typically use two approaches:

1. Objective. It is utilised to describe physical objects, technical things or present reporting. It is a direct, real-to-life description of something that lacks emotions and feelings. It doesn’t give the reader an idea of the writer’s attitude to the object (just like in an informative essay), just bare facts.

2. Subjective (impressionistic). It is the opposite of the objective approach, and unlike objective description, it employs all the reader’s senses to achieve the desired effect. You’ll share your view on the presented subject (much like in a personal essay) to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. This type of description is very sensual, emotional and thoughtful.

Read also: 50 Inspiring Descriptive Essay Topics

How to Create Descriptive Essays on Paintings

Describing paintings, pieces of music and architecture are the most typical assignments students get. If your project touches upon one of these topics, use the pattern below to ease up the writing process:

  • What is the title of the painting?
  • Who is the author?
  • When was this painting created? What historical context has it been placed in? (e.g. revolution, personal conflict, marriage, travel etc.) What inspired the artist to create it?
  • What art movement and epoch does it belong to? (e.g. impressionism, modernism, classicism, purism, cubism etc.)
  • Is the painting abstract or figurative? Describe what you see or how the picture makes you feel.
  • Describe the material the artist used to create the picture (oil, coal, pencil, watercolour, etc.).
  • Describe forms, lines, shapes, colours, values and textures.
  • Speak of proportions, balance, emphasis, rhythm and pattern. Describe how the artist used these elements to attain a specific artistic effect.
  • Describe what is happening in the picture.
  • State what you think of the painting. Do you like or dislike it?

Also, a good approach is to write down responses on a separate sheet of paper and then organise them in a full-scale essay based on the outline provided above.

These are some art-specific words you can use when writing descriptive essays on painting:

Table 1. Words used to describe works of art

abstract abstract art expresses the artist’s ideas or feelings rather than showing the exact appearance of people or things.
arty-crafty made by someone who enjoys creating and decorating things themselves but who you think lacks a skill.
avant-garde avant-garde music, art, etc. is very modern and may shock people because it is so different from what has gone before.
baroque relating to the very detailed style of art, building or music popular in Europe in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
cubist relating to an early 20th-century style in which the artist paints several different views of a person or object in a single painting, usually using straight lines.
figurative figurative art represents people, objects and scenes rather than expressing feelings or ideas as abstract art does.
freehand drawn without using a ruler or other equipment.
grandiose designed to look very impressive, but really looking artificial or silly.
minimalist relating to minimalism.
naturalistic a naturalistic painting, novel or any other object shows people and things as they are in real life.
pictorial consisting of pictures.
pre-Raphaelite typical of a style of art popular in late 19th century England that used a lot of detail and bright colours and showed a very romanticised view of life.
representational representational paintings and other works of art show things as they really are.
satirical satirical writing or art uses humour to criticise people or things and make them seem silly.
surrealistic connected with surrealism.
stylised in a style that is artificial rather than realistic (=like life).
stereoscopic a stereoscopic picture is designed so that when you look at it through a special piece of equipment, it looks solid and real.
untitled an untitled poem, book, painting or another object has not been given a title.

Now that you know the basics, let’s move on to helpful tips on writing a successful descriptive essay from our best experts.

5 Top Tips on How to Write a Descriptive Essay

While writing a descriptive essay can be a fascinating and rewarding experience, it can also be pretty complicated. However, with these professional tips, you’ll surely be on the right track:

1. Use descriptive adjectives and strong verbs.

Avoid nondescript adjectives like good, bad or nice. Instead, choose precise and vivid language to create a strong impact.

2. Avoid clichés.

These are common sayings that have been used over and over again and have eventually lost meaning. Rather than using phrases like ‘a heart of gold’, be creative and try to come up with a more original comparison.

3. Don’t tell, show.

Use words that add vivid sensory details to your subject rather than vague or ambiguous words that only tell. This will help create a clear image in your reader’s mind.

4. Organise details effectively.

Organise your descriptive details in a logical and coherent manner. Depending on the chosen structure, you may arrange them spatially, chronologically or based on the order of importance.

5. Read descriptive essay examples.

Read well-crafted descriptive essays to understand practical techniques and styles. Analyse how experienced writers create vivid imagery and capture the reader’s attention.

Lastly, practice and experiment with different styles and techniques to find out what works best for you and the chosen subject. And in case you get stuck, you can always count on our Australian essay writer team. Since 2008, we’ve successfully crafted hundreds of descriptive essays for students from across the globe and will gladly assist you, too. Just fill in a quick form or email your instructions to us at [email protected], and we’ll be in touch soon!

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You get matched with the most qualified writer in your discipline and can directly communicate with him through the live chat. What's more, we run final drafts through reliable software that.
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Approximately 30% of the orders we receive have deadlines under 24 hours. We've learned how to cope with such tasks and hand-picked a pool of writers capable of handling them.