How to structure a simple descriptive essay

If you are used to writing factual essays, it may be very difficult to start writing a descriptive essay.

Actually, the skill sets for writing both types of essays are similar they both require:

  • Planning
  • Chronological order
  • Accurate use of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
  • Persuasive language
  • Both set the scene at the beginning of the essay.


  1. Your topic
    • If you are writing about an incident or event you will start by planning your essay in chronological order, building up the information.
    • If you are writing a descriptive essay, you start off with a overall view and then through your binoculars you hone in on the details, sort of a layering approach.
    • Your essay should follow the usual format of Introduction (Beginning), Body (Middle) and Conclusion (End).
  2. Introduction
    • The introduction sets the scene. It sets the tone.
    • The introduction should give a rough idea of the main ideas contained in the essay.
    • The first sentence needs to hold the reader so that are keen to read more.
  3. Body
    • Each of the paragraphs that you use in the essay should have a topic sentence. It prepares the reader about the content of the paragraph (this is especially helpful if your reader is skim reading). Relate the topic sentence to the main theme of the essay.
    • The rest of the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
    • Start providing sensory detail , such as smells; sounds; sights; tastes and touch. Obviously you don’t have to include all of the senses in each of your paragraphs.
  4. Descriptive Language
    • Use similes; metaphors; descriptive, alliteration
    • If you can’t find the word you want use a thesaurus to find a word that is more appropriate.
    • Be careful of using figurative language as some people may take it too literally. Be very wary of using clichés, as they show a lack of imagination and language skills.
  5. Conclusion
    • Reread your essay. Does the essay read the way you want it to? Does the language you have used convey the what you want to your reader?
    • Does it flow I an ordered progression?
    • Remember that the last thing that any reader reads stays with them. Think if the last book that you have read that had a major impact on you. Apart from its content, the last few words will have stayed with you verbatim for a while after.

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