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Writing an interesting descriptive essay

Writing a descriptive essay can be a challenge. Your job is to let your readers visualise something they've never seen. It might be an event, a place, a person or even a hobby, and all you have to do it with is words. To carry it off you need to prepare properly then keep a few tips in mind as you write.

  • Start off with a clear idea of what you want to describe. It's easy to meander off into describing other things that might not be all that relevant, and your readers will just get confused. Choose a clear topic and stick to it.
  • Start with a brief introduction to your topic. In two or three sentences make it clear what you're going to describe, and add a hook to get the reader interested in learning about it. If it doesn't sound interesting readers won't put the effort into visualising what you're writing about, so add an interesting fact right at the start. The introduction should make it very clear what you will be describing, so the reader already knows what to expect.
  • The main body of your essay is the place where you have to paint a mental picture. Make a list of key things you need to describe about your topic and don't mix them up. Start with the basics and go on from there. If you jump around between aspects of your topic more confusion will result.
  • Don't use dry facts and statistics in your description. Comparisons and vivid language are much more effective. Appeal to people's senses; if you're describing a person focus on distinctive characteristics, like a cheerful voice. Describing details always adds life and colour to your writing, too; nesting pigeons on the front of a cathedral, for example, or the sound of the string as you shoot your favourite bow. By describing how something makes you feel you can help to steer the reader down the right track, so be generous with adjectives.
  • Vary your wording; a good vocabulary adds interest and the opposite is true, too. If readers start counting how many times you write "enormous" you've lost them. A thesaurus is a very useful tool for writing descriptive essays.
  • Finally, write a conclusion. This should reinforce key points from the body, to fix the description in the reader's mind. Add another couple of interesting facts, too. This will encourage the reader to learn more about the subject on their own.

Follow these tips and you'll be able to write descriptive essays that can grab the reader's attention and get them working to draw a mental picture, and once they're doing that all you have to do is steer their mental pencil with vividly described details.