What is going on? Thanks to the five senses, you can gather that he or she is just waking up from what seems like a really peaceful nap in a hammock on a beach somewhere. How do we gather this? Based on the description, we can see waves hitting the shore as the tide comes in, hear the water as it hits the sand, smell the salty air, and feel the warm sun.
See how the senses use concrete things we've all probably experienced to some degree in our own lives to help you visualize a new scene? This is how a descriptive essay uses things we are familiar with - in this case, our five senses - to take us to a tropical paradise.
Even more, the description helps set a mood by using more vivid language to complement the sensory-based description. The author shows us, rather than tells us, what the afternoon on a beach is like. Rather than saying, 'I heard the waves as the tide came in,' the author says, 'As the waves leisurely collided with the shore, I could hear the delicate lapping of the water as it met the sand.
He or she shows us what it's like to be out there on the beach when the tide comes in during the afternoon, rather than just giving us a play-by-play. The same vivid language also helps the author to create a mood for this description.
We can begin to experience the same peacefulness through the use of words like 'leisurely' and 'delicate. Another useful technique for setting a mood with your descriptive writing is to use similes and metaphors.
A simile is a phrase comparing two unlikely things using 'like' or 'as' in order to make a description more vivid. You've probably heard the phrase, 'running like the wind' before. This is an example of a simile. Rather than saying, 'running really fast,' you replace the speed with something that might represent running quickly, like the wind. A metaphor has the same function as a simile, but the comparison between objects is implicit, meaning there is no 'like' or 'as' used to signal the comparison.
Here's an example of a metaphor from good old Shakespeare: As you can see, similes and metaphors are another tool to help make your descriptions more vivid. They paint a more detailed picture for your reader, making it easier for them to understand what you're saying, not to mention more interesting, because you are showing them what you have in your mind's eye, rather than just telling them.
By now, you probably get the idea that the style choice for your descriptive essay is pretty open. The subject of your essay and the mood you want to create really dictates how your essay is structured. Really, the only rule is to make sure you describe your subject as vividly as possible, using the five senses and showing versus telling.
Get access risk-free for 30 days, just create an account. There are, however, a few ways you can organize your descriptive essay to make it even easier for the reader to follow what you're saying and visualize your subject. One option is to organize your essay from general to particular. For example, if you were describing the new Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas, you might start out by describing the setting - the smell of the corn dogs frying, the crowds of people, the happy children dodging in and out of the midway games - then get into his grandiose size - after all, everything is bigger in Texas, right?
After that, you describe the details: By organizing your essay in this order, your reader not only understands what Big Tex looks like, but they are able to visualize the entire scene as well. As you can see, this structure works particularly well when the subject of your essay is an object.
If the subject was the entire State Fair of Texas rather than just Big Tex, you might choose to organize your essay spatially. Essays organized this way start at one point in a setting and work their way around, describing all of the elements.
This allows you to take your reader on a tour of all of the fairgrounds, from the Ferris wheel and midway, to the food court lined with fried food inventions, to the Cotton Bowl stadium. Rather than describing a thing or a place, your essay might focus on an event.
In this case, structuring your essay chronologically is probably your best option. If you were writing your descriptive essay on what you did during your day at the fair, this would be the way to go. Beginning with what you did first, you walk your reader through all the events you encountered during your day.
So, remember, a descriptive essay allows a reader to understand the essay's subject using illustrative language. The best way to paint a picture for your reader is through use of concrete examples, like the five senses, paired with more vivid, abstract language that creates the mood and helps set the overall tone.
Similes and metaphors are figures of speech that can help you better describe your subject and make your writing more interesting by comparing your topic to fitting, yet unlikely descriptive terms.
While many organizational forms are suitable for descriptive essays, three techniques can be particularly helpful: To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities.
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Watch this video to learn more about the techniques and elements that can help you fill the picture with lots of great details. Try it risk-free for 30 days. An error occurred trying to load this video. Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support. You must create an account to continue watching. Register to view this lesson Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a student I am a teacher. What teachers are saying about Study. Are you still watching? Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds. Add to Add to Add to. Want to watch this again later? How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph or Essay: How to Structure Paragraphs in an Essay. What is Expository Writing? How to Edit and Improve Essay Content. What is Narrative Writing? Test Prep and Practice. Middle School Language Arts: Kelly Roach Kelly earned her Master of Mass Communication from Arizona State and has taught consumer behavior and communication courses at the undergraduate level.
A descriptive essay allows you to paint a picture for your reader in words. Defining a Descriptive Essay When you hear the word 'describe,' what does it mean to you? Using the Five Senses Descriptive essays are great because, in a sense pun intended , they can help us see places we might not be able to go ourselves, hear new things, taste different flavors, smell foreign smells, or touch different textures.
Behold, the power of using the five senses in a descriptive essay: Telling Even more, the description helps set a mood by using more vivid language to complement the sensory-based description. Organizing By now, you probably get the idea that the style choice for your descriptive essay is pretty open. Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime. Want to learn more? Select a subject to preview related courses: Lesson Summary So, remember, a descriptive essay allows a reader to understand the essay's subject using illustrative language.
Learning Outcomes After this lesson, you should be able to: Explain the purpose of a descriptive essay Describe how to use the five senses and abstract language in a descriptive essay Define similes and metaphors and explain how to use them in a descriptive essay Identify three ways to organize a descriptive essay.
Unlock Your Education See for yourself why 30 million people use Study. Become a Member Already a member? Earning College Credit Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities. The picture must be clear, not vague. In this manner, we see that a descriptive essay is based on detailed observation and characterization. The main aim of a descriptive essay is not simply to describe a particular object, place, person or situation, but to make your reader see and feel the same you do.
In other words, you should try to reproduce your thoughts on the paper. Obviously, you must write in accordance with the particular structure, which usually contains:.
To compose a brilliant essay, try to adhere to all these guidelines. Make your readers feel and imagine and do your best to give them a complete perception. Let them create a whole picture in their minds. Illustrate the most important details using all human senses, bring a subject to life, and you will succeed.
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A descriptive essay is a paper that describes a thing, event, process or person. An effective descriptive essay creates an evocative portrait of its topic in the reader's mind. Writing in this style gives the author ample creative autonomy with regard to content and format.
Video: Descriptive Essay: Definition, Examples & Characteristics A descriptive essay allows you to paint a picture for your reader in words. Watch this video to learn more about the techniques and elements that can help you fill the picture with lots of great details.
having the quality of describing; characterized by description: a descriptive passage in an essay. Grammar. (of an adjective or other modifier) expressing a quality of the word it . A descriptive essay creates the atmosphere in your essay paper, it is considered to be extremely powerful in its sole purpose Descriptive essay: definition, structure, outline Skip to main content.
Writers use the descriptive essay to create a vivid picture of a person, place, or thing. Unlike a narrative essay, which reveals meaning through a personal story, the purpose of a descriptive essay is to reveal the meaning of a subject through detailed, sensory observation. Descriptive Essay definition with examples. Descriptive Essay is a form of essay that describes something, bringing it to life for the reader.