Descriptive Paper: Ideas and Writing Tips for Students

Descriptive essay is a type of paper that is aimed on providing the reader with a detailed depiction of a particular subject, event or issue. By giving a thoroughly described picture the writer offers audience his explanation of the subject, thus, we should consider that it will be presented from the writer’s point of view. There are two important factors which you should consider if your assignment is to write the description paper: the appropriate topic must be chosen and numerous sensual details should be provided so the audience cannot just read but also feel what you are writing about. We have prepared for you some good ideas for topics and methods of writing a description essay.

Writing Tips on Descriptive Essay

  • Having a countless number of subjects to describe we recommend you to choose the one, which is, first, exciting for you and, secondly, has a complex structure so you really have what to describe and can do it with passion. Consider that the event or object which you find boring cannot interest the reader as well.
  • Sometimes you do not have a choice and need to write on the topic assigned. In such case try your best to find that angle which will be attractive for you.
  • In the introduction you should provide the general presentation of the subject and indicate why it is worth writing and reading about. The reader must feel that he needs to spend few minutes on your paper as it will be beneficial for him.
  • When we talk about vivid details we mean that you should not just indicate that trees in your yard are green but tell the reader how this greenness makes you feel usually, how it refreshes people and their surrounding and so on.
  • Selecting the main details for your description consider those which refer to different senses, such as taste, sight, touch, smell and sound.

Descriptive Essay Writing Guidelines


Thinking Student

For example, if you are asked to write about your favorite food, you better write down some random words that come to your mind when you think about the object you’ve decided to describe. If you choose ice-cream, you may start by jotting such words as vanilla, sweet, chilly, melting, topping, caramel, chocolate, etc. Once you have a list of descriptive words, you can easily combine them in a well-built story.

Write Precisely

It means you have to choose words carefully, make sure all of them are particularly related to the thing you’re writing about.

Use Vivid Words

Try to use words that can recall a vivid image in the mind of a person who will read your paper. For instance, why not to use tremendous, enormous, or gigantic instead of simple big? Or why use horse when you can say stallion? Such words can definitely help your essay to capture your readers’ attention.

Explain Your Feelings

Just always keep in mind that when you’re describing something, it should be pleasant and appealing to the senses of your readers. By using descriptive words, try to show and explain how the thing you’re writing about felt, tasted, sounded, smelled, or looked; pervade your writing with senses and emotions so your reader could understand why you picked up particularly this thing to describe. If you are writing about a place, you better not just discuss its physical appearance, but also its historical, geographic, or emotional relevance too, by using sensory details and avoiding explaining. It’s like you’re an artist painting a picture that has to be as clear as possible to the people who will look at it. Try to show what distinguish the thing you’ve chosen to describe from others similar. If the subject of your writing is a human, a good tip is to include impersonal characteristics. For instance, do not just tell the reader your best friend is a tidy and thorough individual; show your reader the friend’s "dust-free working place and piles of paper sheets with perfectly aligned corners, each pack sitting strictly two thumb-widths from the corner of the table."

Show Your Thoughts

The main goal of any descriptive essay is to penetrate to your reader’s soul; and if you can describe feelings and emotions you feel while thinking about the thing you’re writing about, you will definitely manage to connect with your reader on a deeper level. All people felt crushing pain or ecstatic happiness at one or another point of their lives, tapping into this emotional reservoir might really help you to achieve your full descriptive potential.

Leave Your Reader with a Desire

One of your main goals is to wake a sense of gratitude and familiarity in your reader’s mind. If a person who read your descriptive writing is craving the vanilla ice-cream you’ve just presented in your essay, you can surely count yourself a good writer!

Organization Is a Key to Success

When emotions are involved, it can be very easy to fall into chaotic rambling of different things and senses while writing the paper you need. That’s why it is very important to keep your essay well-organized throughout all the process of writing it. Try not to lose the main point while explaining your feelings so your readers could have a possibility to come away from your writing with a cogent sense of what you’re describing.Use vivid nouns, verbs, and adjectives, proper metaphors, comparisons, assimilations, and contrasts. Avoid using cliche expressions.

Show, Not Tell

Details of scent, texture, sound, or sight are called sensory. In order to create an impression your writing is more ‘showing’ than ‘telling’, you might want to use ‘showing’ expressions, which are the ones that provide colorful sensory details of the thing you’re trying to describe. Let’s look at examples; here are two sentences for you to check:


The houseroom smelled of old cooking scents, cabbage, and mustiness; our shoes creaked sharply against the scuffed old wood floors, which reflected a haze of dusty sunlight from the one cobwebbed, firm window.


The empty apartment smelled stale; there was no furniture or floor covering, the only window was without any curtains or blinds.

"Telling" words and words expressions are often uncertain or equivocal; they might be expounding in plenty of ways. The second sentence mainly makes a declaration about what is missing at the described place, while the first sentence mentions textures, smells, and sounds of the described place."Showing" proposal uses very distinct details: mustiness, scuffed, old floors, dirty windows, etc. Though the author of the first sentence does not use the particular word "empty," this person, nevertheless, offers the feeling of disuse, lowliness, and emptiness through creating a specific image in readers’ minds. And we can clearly see that the suggestion of emptiness in the first example is more clear and live than in the second one.


All types of writings, including descriptive ones, should definitely have a clear purpose. A good descriptive essay usually has an interesting undertone beside the defined main idea. So you have chosen the subject you want to discuss, now try to organize your essay around it! For instance, let’s imagine you want to describe your car. Yes, simple as it is. First of all, if you want your story to be capturing and interesting for your readers, you’d better don’t give only plain details about how your car looks like, about its size or color, etc. Instead, you might describe it as flawless, beautiful, spoiled woman whom you waste all your spare time and money on. Try avoiding presenting your car in cold and strict details only without having the general idea or impression you’d wish to show to your readers in your mind. And in order to achieve this impression, you’d want to use specific and vivid details about the subject you have chosen to describe.

Descriptive Topics Examples

Describing people

  • A person that inspires you
  • Your favorite actor or actress
  • The artist that have changed your world perception
  • Your parents or relatives
  • Your best friend/family member
  • People you remember from your childhood

Describing places

  • Your room
  • Classroom
  • Your apartment
  • Place you used to live in your childhood
  • Place you have traveled to
  • Museum hall
  • Library hall
  • Places you prefer for studying
  • Places you like to hang out with friends at

Describing things

  • Your favorite outfit
  • School uniform
  • Your workplace
  • Mobile phone
  • A book, newspaper or a magazine
  • The most convenient car

Describing events

  • Your summer/winter vacation
  • Christmas time spent with your family
  • Any holiday you like (Thanksgiving Day, St. Patrick’s day, Halloween)
  • Your birthday party
  • A birthday party which you prepared for your friend or family
  • Favorite season
  • Ideal vacation
  • Your applying for college
  • Taking important exam
  • The best/worst day in your life
  • First day in school/college
  • A day spent in a foreign country without knowing the language.

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