How to Build an Effective Descriptive Essay in Seven Steps

You may have heard instructors state that you should always “show, don’t tell” in your writing. This is absolutely essential when it comes to writing descriptive essay. This may seem challenging at first but with enough practice following these seven steps you should be able to build an effective descriptive essay:

  1. Identify Your Goal
  2. The first step is making sure you identify your goal in the assignment, which should be to use descriptive language to show what it is you see or feel. You need to captivate and impress your audience by using words that bring each reader into the space you are describing, no matter what your topic is.

  3. Brainstorm Your Topic
  4. Whether you are given a prompt or are asked to develop your own topic, be sure to spend several minutes brainstorming ideas. Consider the details you will be describing in each one to help you narrow your options and focus towards just one topic that is the best.

  5. Develop a Plan
  6. Start with an outline. Writing is a process and sometimes we tend to get off track because we haven’t created an effective plan. Outline your descriptive essay so that it makes sense logically and provides a glimpse of everything you want include in the assignment.

  7. Use Descriptive Language
  8. It’s important that we emphasize this once again. Don’t use vague words that don’t say much about what you are trying to describe. When saying something is dark say how dark; when saying that something tasted bad say how bad. English is such a great language where there is a perfect word to describe anything.

  9. Avoid Common Mistakes
  10. One of the common mistakes is getting off track by becoming too specific. A writer may focus on a single detail by taking one or two full sentences to describe. This draws away from the focus of your story. Be sure to revise after your first draft to ensure you don’t get off track.

  11. Consider Your Audience
  12. This can be a little tricky, so we recommend you ask yourself a few questions when considering your audience. Ask yourself if you’ve provided enough details that your audience should be able to “hear”, “feel”, or “taste” the world you’ve created. Remember that this story is entirely new to them, so be sure you bring them into your story.

  13. Put in Final Touches
  14. Be sure to carefully proofread and edit your paper. Your descriptive essay should be completely free of error if you want to earn the highest grade possible. But it should also be enjoyable and mistakes in grammar, punctuation and spelling can be very distracting.



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