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Descriptive essays are quite different from other essays as they rely on the effective use of description to connect with the reader's ability to visualize a descriptive scene. A Descriptive essay was probably your first encounter with the essay as a form but now more will be expected of your linguistic skills.
What skills are needed to write a Descriptive essay?
Basically, in the Descriptive essay you are pulling on your creative writing skills rather than your research, reasoning, analytical or argumentative skills. You need to be able to help the reader to visualization a scene, appealing to all the senses. You'll make effective use of adjectives and adverbs as both semantic fields are useful in the descriptive essay.
How should I plan for writing a Descriptive essay?
First, you should think about your audience. You would not, after all, write descriptively in the same way for an adult as for a child, for example. The audience for which a Descriptive essay is intended is very important as clearly this will influence the choices you make about which language and syntax to use as well as how you intend to appeal to the sensory perception of your audience.
It's a good idea to make a list of all the descriptive words and phrases you can think of to create a sort of bank from which you can draw ideas when you begin to write. How often do we have really good ideas but then forget them when we are writing? The way to get round this is to brainstorm ideas before you start.
Next, you should organize your list into paragraph topic, give each a working subtitle, if it helps, or make a spider-gram to make connections between ideas. This will help to organize your thoughts.
Then move on to writing the essay. With all the thinking involved in your groundwork this should flow well and if you get stuck, you can always look back at your notes to jog your memory.
Any other tips for writing a Descriptive essay?
Well, you should think about the purpose of the writing i.e. is it primarily to entertain or is the evocation of the scene almost like a 'painting in words'? In either case, the essay will be likely to employ linguistic devices such as similes and metaphors to aid the description.
Stay focussed throughout, as the main purpose of any Descriptive essay should be to create a scene in the mind of the reader. Often, examination candidates will be asked to write a Descriptive essay as part of the process of assessment. The descriptions can range from 'describe your ideal holiday destination' to 'describe the room you are sitting in'.
Clearly, the Descriptive essay must contain more than pictorial stimulation and also contain descriptions of feelings and emotions.
Remember that like all essays, the Descriptive essay needs to be well-structured with perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation throughout if you are to receive the highest grades or convince a college or university that you are the candidate they are looking for.
A good, effective Descriptive essay makes the reader feel that they are actually presenting the scene described, whether this be a busy supermarket on a Saturday morning or the peaceful relaxation of a sun-drenched beach. The more original you can be in your descriptions, the better. Try to avoid tired clichés and over-used similes and metaphors.
The Descriptive essay is one where you can really make use of your imagination and it is a definite skill to be able to make a reader feel the experience you are describing. Writing a Descriptive essay is not easy, by any means, but it is a skill well worth developing.