Description Essays

In: Descriptive essays

Now that you have an idea of how to convey the dominant impression of your essay, let’s explore some different types of details that you can include in descriptions. Essentially, there are two types of details that will help you to develop a description: objective details and expressive details. Objective details give an impartial and purely factual account of the subject. For instance, with the subject of the two party system in American politics, you would avoid giving any partisan commentary or expressing dissatisfaction of the system and instead focus on the process itself. Expressive details, on the other hand, give a more personal and subjective view of your subject. Therefore, you could feel free to comment on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the two party system.

Any type of descriptive details is called sensory details, whether you decide to be objective or expressive. Sensory details are just what they sound like- they refer to the senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch). Although many writers choose to focus on sight, including several types of sensory details can help to make your essay more appealing and insightful to the reader. Remember that quotation from Garrison Keillor’s essay above? Take a minute and try to identify the senses that appear in that one sentence: “I prefer parks, ones with radios going chuckawaka chuckawaka and the delicious whiff of bratwurst and cigarette smoke.”

By including the senses of sound and smell, Keillor’s essay pulls the readers into his world and gives it a sense of immediacy. The readers, then, are able to identify with Keillor as a writer because he is able to convey a very concrete, dominant impression.

For more information about the types of descriptive details and how they are used, the Colorado State University web site has a very comprehensive and well-organized writing guide just on descriptive details. 

Regardless of which types of details or sense that you choose to use, writers of descriptions need to choose their words very carefully. However, as you learned in a previous essay, that doesn’t mean you have to use long, complicated words that you pull out of a dictionary or a thesaurus. Relying too much on aids like these may over-inflate your writing and put off your readers because it will appear that you are trying too hard. Don’t be afraid to write as you speak, albeit in a more structured and organized manner, and avoid using words that you wouldn’t normally include in a sentence. Be aware of your own natural style and voice, and that will help to add confidence to the writing.

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