A descriptive essay should cause the reader to obtain a vivid mind picture of what, exactly, is being described.
We can write descriptive essays about people, places, things, moments in time, and even theories.
Imagine that we want to (or, we are asked to) write about a particular moment in time. What if were asked to write something along the lines of the following...
- Describe the most embarrassing moment of your life.
Now, if you’re like me, you’ve probably had quite a few embarrassing moments so choosing one might be difficult. What are some of the elements that go into making up good descriptives?
Ten Things to Consider as You Write Your Essay:
1. Think of the moment you want to describe.
2. Why was this moment so embarrassing?
3. What were you doing at the time?
4. What other things were happening around you?
5. Where were objects located in relation to you?
6. What sights, smells, sounds, and tastes were there?
7. Did the sights, smells, and sounds, remind you of anything?
8. How were you feeling at that time?
9. How should the reader feel after reading the essay?
10. Is there enough detail to create a mental image for the reader?
Answering the above questions in the body of your essay should ensure a good effort. However, there is something that is equally important in a quality essay and shouldn’t be overlooked.
- Cause the reader to see, smell, hear, taste, and feel what you were feeling at the time of the incident. Appealing to the senses is the best way to cause your reader to get the mental picture you are trying to create.
Saying “the trail was dry and dusty making it difficult for both mules and man to breathe” is nowhere near as powerful as saying, “the trail was hell itself, as every step sent up clouds of dust so hot and thick that both man and beast wheezed and gasped for air that seemed to have been stolen from the very earth itself.”
In other words, when you write your essay, you should show, NOT tell the reader about the incident. Give your reader a mind picture.