Writing Description Essays

Oct 26, 2009 Filed under:Descriptive essays — admin @ 2:10 am

Strategies for Writing Description Essays

Now that you’ve learned the many functions and types of descriptions and descriptive details, you may be wondering how in the world you would put it all together to write an effective description. By following a clear series of steps, pulling all your details together and conveying a dominant impression will become a much easier process.

  1. Topic selection. First things first--before you get carried away with all the details you could include, you need to decide on a concrete and specific subject. There’s no need to worry about coming up with an exotic subject that will wow your readers. For instance, Garrison Keillor writes about a subject that many readers have experienced: walking up and down the Grand Canyon. However, through his skillful use of descriptive details, he is able to make the subject sound fresh and new to the reader. If the assignment leaves the subject entirely up to you, try to describe a place or subject that you are actually familiar with so you won’t have to struggle with identifying effective descriptive details.
  2. Dominant Impression. If you start to struggle with what type of dominant impression to convey, it may help you to do some freewriting for awhile. Think about all the possible angles of your subject and write down as many of them as you can. Then look at your list and choose the one that is most appealing to you and circle it. Perhaps avoid choosing the angle that is most comfortable to you and choose one instead that surprised or intrigued you.
  3. Drafting. As you write your first draft, don’t agonize over each and every descriptive details. Try to write as naturally as possible, and remember that you can always go back and add your specific details. When you first start using descriptive language, it may not come easily at first, so take your time and realize that you may need to craft several drafts before you’re satisfied.
  4. Revising. It’s at this stage that you really want to focus on the descriptive elements of your essay. Remember the precept of “show, don’t tell” that appeared earlier in the lesson. You want your reader to think that your description is believable, and that involves including as many sensory details as you feel are appropriate. Specifically, watch for general words such as “nice, good, cold, and bad;” then brainstorm for specific language that will more accurately convey your experience.

Using the following revision checklist will help you to make sure your description is as detailed and thorough as possible:

    1. Do your details work together to convey a dominant impression?
    2. Have you used appropriate sensory details?
    3. Are highly descriptive sentences followed with less descriptive ones to provide balance to your paragraphs?
    4. Do the details work together to fulfill your main idea?
    5. Have you arranged your details in a suitable order, using topic sentences and transitions as appropriate?