‘Show, don’t tell’ you may hear from tutors assigning you descriptive essays. However, this advice is easier to give than to follow.
‘How can I show something in academic writing?’ you may wonder. Now you can find answers to this and other questions in this easy-to-use seven step guide to descriptive writing.
Descriptive essays: know your goal
A descriptive essay requires students to describe what they see or feel. Your goal as an author of a descriptive essay is to impress your readers and affect their feelings. To write a description paper, use your own voice and any of your five senses where applicable:
Imagine that you make a video of the discussed object or place and do everything possible to make it three or even four dimensional for your readers. Make your description essay detailed and vivid to make your readers feel they can touch it.
Understanding your goal is only the first step in descriptive writing. Once you understand well the goal of your essay, follow these steps to achieve it.
Descriptive essay: brainstorm your topic
When you are assigned a descriptive paper to write, select a topic and brainstorm it. First generate as many ideas as you can and then select the most valuable of them. For example, if you are going to describe sunset, you may want to touch upon such details as the color of the sky, the last rays and the play of light, the wind blowing into your face and making you feel cold.
Descriptive essay: have a plan
The next step is to write a descriptive essay outline. Even though your essay is highly personal, make sure it is well-organized and makes sense. Include an introduction with a thesis statement, several body paragraphs and a conclusion section into each of your descriptive essays. In a thesis statement, focus on the overall impression given by the discussed object.
Descriptive essay: watch your language
The following step is to watch your language when writing a descriptive essay. Make sure to use direct and meaningful words. Try to use enough metaphors and similes, but do not overburden your reader with these expressive means. For instance, you may say that the river during the sunset looked like a mosaic of a thousand jewels instead of merely saying that the rays of the sun lit the river.
Descriptive essays: avoid common mistakes
When writing a descriptive essay, try to avoid common mistakes, such as using general phrases and explaining something in too much detail. Do not simply say that the sunset was beautiful. Instead, show the reader what makes you think so. Do not be afraid of discussing your personal feelings and impressions. However, avoid interpreting and explaining something.
Descriptive essay: put yourself in readers’ shoes
When working on descriptive essays, try to put yourself into your readers’ shoes. Do you show instead of tell? Do you provide enough details so that readers could ‘touch’ what you show them? Is your language strong and direct? If the answers are ‘yes’, your essay must be a good descriptive essay example.
Descriptive essay: final touches
The last but not least step is to proofread your paper carefully to eliminate misprints, mistakes and any inconsistencies. Pay special attention to the language means you use and improve them whenever it is necessary. So, the above seven simple steps are enough to write high quality descriptive essays and receive excellent grades for them.