Descriptive essays are a type of writing that seeks to describe a person, place, thing or experience through the vivid description. The descriptive essay can be broken down into three main components: setting, characters and events.
Description is the primary part of any piece of writing; this includes a description that goes into depth about an individual’s personal appearance (what they look like) as well as what something (a building for example) looks like. The best descriptive essays can also take care of the other two categories mentioned above–characters and events. There are rules for each category which will be presented in further detail below.
The story subject will determine how much attention should be given to each category (setting, characters, events). For example, a story about a trip to the grocery store will have more attention given to the setting than a story about a mother’s love. A descriptive essay can range from 500 words to over 5,000 words in length depending on the topic and how much information is required by the audience.
In descriptive writing, you want your readers to be able to see what you are describing as if they were living it with their own eyes. In order for this to happen, you need detail. In one sense, ‘detail’ refers solely to tangible things such as specific examples of objects or people that help the reader understand what is being described or felt; however, ‘detail’ also refers to non-tangible items such as sensations and emotions. If a reader can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell the experience you are trying to describe then they will not be able to feel it.
Setting – Setting establishes where and when the story takes place and how the characters interact within this setting. The setting may include all of time and space around a particular event or action (that is happening to the characters) or it may only focus on one element of that larger picture. Any description that goes into detail about what happened before or after an action is considered a back story, which should be excluded from descriptive essays. There are three main types of setting: physical environment (place), historical context (when), social context (person).
Characters – Characters are any people involved in the events of the story. Characters are what make the plot of the story work; therefore, you should include specific details about each one to make them come alive in the minds of your readers. Character description is usually handled through physical appearance (what they look like), personality (how they act) and emotions (how they feel).
Events – The events that take place throughout a narrative are what move it forward, which means that these events should be thoroughly described for maximum impact on the reader. Sometimes writers will describe only one important event at a time; other times writers use multiple events to keep their stories moving forward. As with character description, there must be enough detail included in order for a reader to understand exactly what is going on in an event-driven descriptive essay.
There are three main types of descriptive essays: compositions with a single central character, composition with two or more characters and description of a place. The type of essay you write will depend on the subject you are describing as well as your own experiences and interest in that subject area.
In writing about a single central character, it’s most effective to describe the person from head to toe before moving onto other details. Start by describing how they look first; this is where having an awareness of literary devices comes into play (such as metaphors). After you have written out what they look like, you should move on to their personality traits (how they act) and lastly how they feel (emotions). It’s important not to jump from one to the other because it’s easy for a reader to become confused.
In writing about two or more characters, you should focus on describing actions and reactions between the different characters in order to avoid confusing your readers. For example, if you are talking about a couple in a relationship, describe what they do together (for example: going out to dinner) and then have each character give their own reaction based on what has happened that day before finally ending with an overall reaction from both parties. This will help move the story forward while avoiding confusion for your audience at the same time.
Describing a place can be difficult because it is not always possible to have experienced everything in this yourself; however, there are still ways to write a descriptive essay. The first step is simply defining the place you wish to write about and then going from there. Think of who your audience may be and how they would react to what you are about to describe, as well as why it’s important for them to know this information. Once you’ve answered all those questions, you can begin including detail about everything in the environment around them as well as their emotions.
In general, descriptive essays should not include self-reflections or backstories because these do nothing to propel a narrative forward. You need a description that is only focused on moving the plot forward. It might seem like good practice to include some background information it helps readers understand where you are coming from which can assist in formulating their own opinions.
However, when writing a descriptive essay, the focus should be on telling a story and not just sharing your opinion. In doing so, you will find it easier to create an engaging and informative piece of work that your audience is sure to enjoy.
Focusing too much on personal reflection also makes description feel like more of an explanation than a part of your overall narrative. When this happens, and there is no plot or characters, the reader cannot engage with the material and may become frustrated by what they see as pointless information. It’s important to remember who you’re writing for; if it’s for yourself then go ahead but if not then avoid including anything that does not contribute to the overall story.
A lot of people find it difficult to stick to these guidelines because they want the reader to know more about them. If this is the case, then try including self-reflection later on in your piece rather than at the beginning so it does not disrupt the flow.
To summarize said above, a “descriptive essay” is basically just writing about a person, place or thing from the perspective of an observer. This information can be used as knowledge but it should not be copied and pasted verbatim (with credit to whomever wrote it).
Thank you for reading my blog post about what is a descriptive essay. I hope that it has helped you better understand this type of writing! 🙂