Writing Descriptive Essays
What, exactly, is a Descriptive Essay?
Steps to writing an effective Descriptive Essay:
Now let’s practice!
The Narrative Essay
In addition, narratives can
Traits of a Narrative Essay
Show don’t Tell
Here’s a sentence that tells.
A sentence that shows…
How can you show your ideas?
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Writing Descriptive Essays

1. Writing Descriptive Essays

2. What, exactly, is a Descriptive Essay?

A descriptive essay is simply an essay
that describes something or
someone by appealing to the
reader’s senses: sight, sound, touch,
smell, and taste.

3. Steps to writing an effective Descriptive Essay:

1. Select a subject - Observation is the key to writing a
good description. For example, if you are writing about
a place, go there and take notes on the sights, sounds,
and smells. A descriptive essay paints a picture for the
reader, using descriptive devices and the senses.


Create a thesis statement – A thesis statement is
simply a sentence that tells the reader what you are going
to be talking about throughout the entire essay
• Your thesis statement should never begin with phrases
like, “I am going to be talking about. . .”


• Since this is a descriptive essay, create a thesis that
informs the reader of who or what you will be
Ex: “My bedroom is an ocean sanctuary”
Ex: “My family vacation to Disney World was a magical
week of fun, laughter, and sun-filled happiness.


Select dominant details
- Make sure you are only writing about things that
specifically support your thesis.
For example, if your thesis statement is talking about
your sun-filled trip to the beach, don’t bore the reader
with meaningless details about your swimsuit. . . You
should be describing the beach itself, and perhaps some
of the events that took place there (e.g. building a
sandcastle, boogie-boarding, parasailing, etc.)


Use descriptive words – do not use vague words or
generalities (such as good, nice, bad, or even
• Think about it. . . Which sounds better?
“I ate a good dinner.”
“I devoured a steaming hot, cheese-filled pepperoni pizza for
See the difference?


Provide sensory detail
- Smells that are in the air (the aroma of freshly brewed
- Sounds (traffic, honking horns, waves crashing)
- Sights (“The sun scattered tiny diamonds across dewcovered grass as it peeked out from beyond the horizon.”)
- Touch (“The texture of the adobe hut’s walls resembled
coarse sandpaper.”)
- Taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, tart (“Giant goose bumps
formed on my tongue when I accidently bit into a sliver of


6. Draw a logical conclusion - The conclusion may also
use descriptive words; however, make certain the
conclusion is logical and relevant.

10. Now let’s practice!

On a blank sheet of paper, look at the following images.
Write down things you might hear, see, taste, smell, or
feel/touch if you were “in” these pictures
After you have compiled a brief list of sensory details,
write a descriptive sentence about each picture.






16. The Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a story written about a personal
Writing a narrative essay provides an opportunity to
get to know and understand yourself better.
Narratives provide human interest, spark our curiosity,
and draw us close to the storyteller.

17. In addition, narratives can

Create a sense of shared history
Provide entertainment
Provide insight

18. Traits of a Narrative Essay

Usually written in first person – “I”
Usually rely on concrete, sensory details to convey
their point
Usually include these story conventions: plot, setting,
characters, climax, ending
ALWAYS make a point. You don’t tell a story just for
the sake of telling…your story must make a point.

19. Show don’t Tell

What does show don’t tell mean?
Good writing tends to draw an image in the reader’s
mind instead of just telling the reader what to think or

20. Here’s a sentence that tells.

Mr. Bobweave was a fat, ungrateful old man.
That gets the information across, but it is BORING.

21. A sentence that shows…

Mr. Bobweave heaved himself out of the chair. As his
feet spread under his apple-like frame and his arthritic
knees popped and cracked in objection, he pounded
the floor with his cane while cursing that dreadful girl
who was late again with his coffee.
The writer didn’t tell Mr. Bobweave was fat, he showed
it by saying his “apple-like” frame.

22. How can you show your ideas?

Use metaphors and similes:
She landed under the window like a falling leaf.
Use quoted language: bits of conversation can enliven
your writing.
Know when to quit: If you think your readers would like
a little more, write the little bit more and then delete it.
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