Descriptive Essay: Outline, Topics, & Writing Prompts

The picture provides introductory information about a descriptive essay.

Writing seems challenging from time to time.

Even if you followed all the guidelines, your paper might lack one minor detail. And that is what always happens with the descriptive essay.

So, what is descriptive writing?

It gives your readers a feeling of presence, and your writing becomes more engaging. A descriptive essay lets you create a specific mood using various techniques.

In this article, we will explain how to use descriptive writing for an essay. You will find some basic information, techniques, writing prompts, topics, and an essay sample.

Let’s go!

🧱 Descriptive Essay: the Basics

Unlike usual academic writing, descriptive essays allow you to be more creative and fully use your imagination. That is why it is a popular task for college and high school students. It doesn’t require much research, but this doesn’t make it an easier task. This type of writing appeals to the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.

A descriptive essay usually focuses on a person, place, event, nature, or object.

We will give some writing prompts to these topics later in the article. You can also describe an animal or somebody’s behavior. There are no particular limits.

The picture represents 5 senses that you can disclose in a descriptive essay.

🔑 Descriptive Writing Techniques

In a descriptive essay, your purpose is to make readers believe that the object you describe actually exists. It doesn’t mean you have to give all the literate details, though.

The key is to use figurative language, pay attention to your word choice, and include sensory details.

What Is Figurative Language?

Figurative language is the use of words, not in their literal meaning. It is used for brighter comparisons and additional creativity. Metaphors, allusions, similes, and all the other types of figurative language are helpful for colorful and emotional writing.

What Is a Strong Word Choice?

It means you come up with original and memorable word choice. Try to avoid using cliché phrases such as “free as a bird.” Instead, try to think about unique combinations of words to impress your readers.

What Are Sensory Details?

Using sensory details means you have to appeal to as many senses as you can. People often tend to describe just the way something looks. Don’t forget to characterize sound, smell, touch, and taste.

🎨 Descriptive Essay Topics & Prompts

Now you know all the basics of descriptive writing. It’s time to learn more about the things your essay can focus on.

In this part of the article, we will discuss topics that you can use for a descriptive essay.

Let’s start!

Descriptive Essay about a Person

Here’s the crucial purpose of a descriptive essay about a person. You have to describe a person in such a way that readers can precisely imagine them.

What do you need to include?

  1. Appearance. It is probably the easiest way to start your paper and give a general impression.
  2. Manners. Describe the typical behavior and habits of the person you have chosen.
  3. Character. It might be the most challenging part of the task where you need to be objective.
  4. Emotions and feelings. Describe the prominent emotions and feelings the person causes.

And here are a couple of ideas for your paper.

Descriptive Essay about Your Mother

This paper is easy and difficult to write at the same time. On the one hand, you can include a lot of information. On the other hand, some details might be boring for your readers.

You can share your description through a narrative. In this case, depict your mother in a situation when her most appealing traits were prominent.

Descriptive Essay about a Person You Admire

Choosing this topic, ensure that the features of the admired person will be interesting to others. If everyone knows this person, try to look for an unobvious description.

For example, instead of drawing your attention to Winston Churchill’s cigars and humor, focus on his literary talents.

Descriptive Essay about a Place

Your task is to make your readers feel as if they have visited the same place too.

Here are a few tips you should consider:

  1. Make your personal experience a basis. It means pick a place you’ve already visited and remember well. It will make you a reliable narrator.
  2. Include more sensory details. As a description of places provokes less emotional response than a description of people, you need to do your best to hook the readers.
  3. Explain why this place is significant. Why have you chosen to write about this place? Why is it so important to you? Give answers at least to these questions.

Descriptive Essay about a Place You Visited

Try to recall the place using pictures or anything that reminds you about it. Depict the emotions you’ve experienced when you were there. Share the unique details that you have noticed if it is a popular traveling destination.

Descriptive Essay about Home

Try to think about what makes your home special. It is an excellent opportunity to describe smells and sounds. Try to pick the elements that involve the audience and cause emotions. For example, you can include your childhood memories.

Descriptive Essay about the Beach

Describe the weather and the mood you were in using figurative language. Think about nature, the season, the part of the day, and what you were doing there. It can be a short story that highlights the features of the place. Explain why you would like to return there.

Descriptive Essay about Nature

Everyone gets excited by nature. In this paper, you need to be specific to make your writing different from all the other nature descriptions.

  1. Start with observing the subject you need to depict. If you haven’t picked what to write about, observation will help you to choose.
  2. Take a walk and try to notice as many things as you can. In case you already have something specific in mind, make a list of the unique features.
  3. For such an essay, think of suitable descriptive words. It is easy to start using cliché phrases here; however, try to avoid them and operate with more sophisticated vocabulary.

Descriptive Essay about Autumn

Focus on colors, all the weather changes, and how you feel about it. Describe your favorite type of autumn. Is it about rainy melancholic days? What about cozy sweaters and coffee with cinnamon? Or maybe you enjoy the last warm days and crunchy leaves? Try to remember what makes you feel good about autumn.

Descriptive Essay about Winter

The type of your winter experiences depends on the area you live in. Tell your readers how cold or warm it is using figurative language. Tell about holiday decorations and smells that surround you. You can also include winter sports or activities in which you participate.

Descriptive Essay about an Event

Your goal is to make the audience experience the same adventure as you did.

  1. You can use a chronological type of description for this paper. Make a timeline of everything that happened during the event you want to describe. You can also write down everything that comes to your mind and organize it in chronological order later.
  2. Try to include an element of surprise or a funny moment and describe it creatively. Make your narrative more interesting using figurative comparisons. Your readers will follow your footsteps living through the story you created for them.

Descriptive Essay about Christmas

Start your story with a description of Christmas Eve. Describe your preparations, dishes you tasted, and the way you spent your time. You can add specific family traditions if there are any. Then proceed to write about presents and the emotions you experienced.

Descriptive Essay about a Concert

Provide a brief explanation of the kind of the concert and why you wanted to visit it. Describe the performance and what you felt at the time.

Boost your knowledge before you start writing. For example, if you want to tell your readers about a music concert, search for some terms and specific words to describe this performance.

Descriptive Essay about an Object

You need to describe an object in such a way that someone who has never seen it could imagine everything.

  1. Imagine that you are a guide giving explanations to a crowd of tourists. They look exactly where you point at and see what you want them to see. They will not remember everything you say, but they will have a particular impression after listening to you.
  2. You can describe an object using multiple comparisons, parallels, and explanations. To avoid making them dull, think about words that sound more creative and appeal to the senses.

Descriptive Essay about a Painting

Make sure that you understand the painting and its value. You need to know what style it is, what materials were used, the colors and shades, and all the possible facts about it. You don’t have to include all of the details in the paper, but it will give you a better knowledge of what you need to write.

Descriptive Essay about Food

You can describe the cooking process or the dish itself. Find out what ingredients are there, how to cook the dish, and how to reach this kind of taste you experienced. When describing the flavor and smell, use figurative language.

Other Descriptive Essay Topics

  1. The concept of project management in today’s business world.
  2. Concept of the global expansion in business.
  3. Concepts of human health.
  4. Description of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
  5. Evidence-based practice description.
  6. Servant leadership concept.
  7. Project risk management description.
  8. The concept of employee turnover.
  9. Management and leadership concepts.
  10. The concept of job enrichment.
  11. Concepts of content marketing.
  12. Description of the introduction and evolution of the business trends.
  13. The description of the Clayton County library system.
  14. The concept of buyer behavior process.
  15. The concept of financial sustainability in business.
  16. Amazon company description, history, and reasons for success.
  17. Concepts of strategic HRM and HRM strategies.
  18. Corporate strategy concept.
  19. Cost of capital concept and its purpose.
  20. Housing policy concept in the United States.
  21. Management concepts and skills.
  22. The concept of brand loyalty.
  23. Management: Social responsibility concept.
  24. Change management strategy concept in business.
  25. The concept of quality management productivity.
  26. Bowman’s strategic clock and the Ansoff matrix marketing strategies description.
  27. Gender gap description and analysis.
  28. The Maersk firm’s compensation policy description.
  29. Dow and Dupont merger description.
  30. Data description methods: Japolli Bakery.
  31. Project cost manager’s job description.
  32. Apple company: The customer experience.
  33. Best Food Superstores’ negative customer experience.
  34. Enterprise risk management: Concepts and processes.
  35. Reflection about leadership: Leadership as a multifaceted concept.

⚙️ Descriptive Essay Outline

And now, we will discuss the format of a descriptive paper. It has a five-paragraph structure that is familiar to you.

Let’s focus on the things that you need to include:

IntroductionGive your readers a slight glance at the topic you want to discuss. In this paragraph, you set the tone of your writing and give a general impression. Your thesis statement, which is the last sentence of the introduction, should summarize the whole text.
BodyProvide all the details in these three or four paragraphs. Share your thoughts using comparisons with attention to your word choice. Use the tips and techniques we described above.
ConclusionIn this part, you can add tiny details or your opinion on the matter you have described. You can also call the audience to action or ask a thought-provoking question to make the last impression.

Take a look at the example below.

Sample Outline: Descriptive Essay about Autumn

The picture provides an example of a descriptive essay about autumn.

🔤 Bonus: Descriptive Writing Sentence Starters

Well, what can go wrong? Nobody likes monotonous sentences in a row, no matter how beautiful they are.

Here are some examples of sentence starters that will make your writing more diverse:

  • One-word sentence. Boredom. It captured every sell of my brain.
  • This. This was my chance to reveal who I am.
  • Participial phrase. Exhausted like an athlete at the end of the Olympics.
  • Two adjectives. A big, noisy thought was on my mind all day long.
  • Preposition. On the tips of my fingers, I felt that this fabric was the best thing I have ever touched.
  • Adverb. Smoothly, I avoided this conversation.
  • While. While I was not paying attention, the dog stole everything that was on my plate.
  • As. As I entered the room, everyone became silent within a moment.

❓ Descriptive Essay FAQ

What is the purpose of a descriptive essay?

Your goal is to characterize something so that your readers feel the emotions you convey through words. As an academic task, it is a great exercise for your creativity and thinking outside the box.

How to write a descriptive essay about a place?

Start with observing the site. Try to notice the details that you can describe using different methods. You can share a story using a chronological organizational pattern or describe the place using a spatial approach.

How to write a descriptive essay about a picture?

You need to become more aware of the basic information and interesting facts about the painting. Then you should think of several comparisons using figurative language and appeal to senses on your readers. Explain why you like the picture and share your feelings with the readers.

How to write a thesis statement for a descriptive essay?

Like in every other paper, it should be a summary of your writing in one sentence. Typically, you will need to define what you describe and why you do it. Complete your thesis with the main points of the following paragraphs.

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