Opening Paragraph Descriptive Essay Topics

How to Write a Descriptive Essay on any Topic

Published 5/8/2013

What is a Descriptive Essay?

A descriptive essay gives the reader a mental image of a person, object, place or event using vivid sensory details.

Much more than other types of essays, descriptive essays should provide a deeply involved and vivid experience for the reader. Good descriptive essay achieves this affect by using detailed observations and descriptions.

Choosing a Topic for Descriptive Essay

Before you begin writing the descriptive essay, you need to have a clear idea why you are writing it. Was it something that was really memorable? Remember that your goal is to make the reader experience almost as clear as your past experiences.

Some goof examples for a descriptive essay are:

You favorite restaurant
Your dream house
Your ideal roommate
Your memory of a place that you visited as a child

Using the following links, you can find a lot of good topics for your descriptive essay:

Descriptive Essay Topics (1)

Descriptive Essay Topics (2)

Ideas for Descriptive Essay

Descriptive Essay Structure

Considering the right structure for your essay is one of the key points of success. Sticking to a recommended essay structure is the only way to properly outline and write it, paragraph by paragraph from the introduction to conclusion, without mistakes.

Depending on the type of descriptive approach, your essay can be organized spatially, chronologically or by importance.

Therefore, your can choose one of the following three patterns: "Spatial Order", "Chronological Order" and "Climactic Order".

Spatial Order Pattern

Spatial order of a descriptive essay is the order of space. This means that your writing moves like a movie camera, as you recall and give details.

This pattern is especially useful when your topic is a place.

It contains five paragraphs: introduction, conclusion, and three paragraphs, showing three locations within the place you are describing.

Chronological Order Pattern

Chronological order of a descriptive essay is the order of time, so your writing moves scene by scene.

This pattern is especially useful when your topic is an event.

It contains five paragraphs: introduction, conclusion, and three paragraphs, detailing the three scenes.

Climactic Order Pattern

Climactic Order is the order of importance. Usually, items are arranged from less important to more important, so you save the best point for the end of the essay.

This pattern is generic, and can be used for any topic of descriptive approach.

It contains five paragraphs: introduction, conclusion, and three paragraphs for three points / properties of the described person or object.

Did you choose an descriptive essay pattern? Great! Now...

After choosing an essay pattern, now all you need is to write your descriptive essay, on any topic, according to your pattern’s structure. Also, be sure to read the A+ writing tips for a descriptive essay on any topic below. Follow these instructions and you will write a high grading descriptive essay.

Writing an A+ Descriptive Essay

Introduction

In a descriptive essay, the introduction is very important. It gives the reader his/her first impression of the text.

Start with a short background

Everyone needs to take a break from the crazy pace of NYC lifestyle, once in a while. When I ask myself where the best place to do that is, I do not have to think for more than a second.

State the dominant impression about the subject

This can be stated outright or implied; usually anything implied adopts a "show, but not tell" approach. This approach can sometimes make a greater impression with the reader.

My favorite spot in the NYC is the Van Cortlandt Park, with its long paving trails that I so much like to ride on my bike, passing jungles of trees and bushes so wild that they make you believe you have escaped the city completely, and are somewhere in the middle of a real rich forest.

Spatial Order - Location Paragraph

Specify the location

Provide the necessary factual details. Where is it? What are the main objects / people there? What is the main feeling about it?

As I moved through the dense forest of the park, I pushed away the ample fluffy branches that came in my way, trying not to hurt any of the big flat leaves, or neat, perfect acorns that covered each branch. Wanting to be closer to nature, I decided not to take the pathway but, instead, go directly through the forest. It was as if there wasn’t a sign of civilization around me at all.

Enrich the description with sensory details

Provide the visceral details relate to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Describe your emotions and feelings.

The air was still wet from the early morning shower. While everywhere, in the open, it had already been very dry and hot, as if there wasn’t a shower at all; the shadows of the forest still preserved the moist humidity, intensified by the smell of wet moss and last year’s leaves that still lay on the ground. I loved this deep moist air, saturated with oxygen and filled with freshness.

Chronological Order - Scene Paragraph

Specify the scene

Provide the necessary factual details. When did it happen? What were the main objects / people? What was your main feeling about it?

When I started school, mom was my ally. To me, school was a world where ghosts and bad guys lurk. Instead of laughing at my fears, mom showed me how great school can be.

Enrich the description with sensory details

Provide the visceral details relate to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Describe your emotions and feelings.

Instead of dropping me off at school, she came out of the car, knelt down, tenderly cupped my face with both hands and told me: "Don’t worry, honey. There won’t be any bad guys today, Mommy made them go away."

Climactic Order - Scene Paragraph

State the point

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the painting is the woman's smile.

Enrich the description with sensory details

Provide the visceral details relate to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Describe your emotions and feelings.

Many believe that it is innocent and inviting, while others believe it is that of smugness and is actually a smirk. Many scientific studies have been undertaken to determine the exact nature of the smile but the real reason remains a mystery. It is believed that every person sees the smile differently because of the changes in the lighting that de Vinci presented.

Conclusion

The conclusion of a descriptive essay is just as important as the introduction. The conclusion seals the essay and tries to close the issue. Conclusion is the last part of the essay that your reader will experience.

Restate your feelings about the subject

Wrap up the description and provide final thoughts.

Although the painting looks calm, it actually hides a secret so deep, that no one, for centuries had revealed. It takes a long look at the Mona Lisa to appreciate its complex beauty.

Finalizing your Work

Pay attention that even though your essay is fully written, it still isn’t ready to submission.

There are some common and annoying mistakes which may significantly harm your grade. However, you can avoid those grade lowering mistakes by completing the following checklist:

  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Ensure that your essay is fully compliant with the required formatting standard
  • Properly organize all the citations and the References / Works Cited page
  • Ensure that your title page is done as required
  • Take a final look at your paper to be certain that everything is indeed fine

One of the keys to writing a descriptive essay is to create a picture in your reading audience’s mind by engaging all five of their senses – smell, sight, touch, taste and sound. If you can do this, then your essay is a success, if not, then you have a lot of work to do. The first steps in writing a descriptive essay will lay the groundwork for the entire piece.

Step 1: Choose a topic

A descriptive essay will usually focus on a single event, a person, a location or an item. When you write your essay, it is your job to convey your idea about that topic through your description of that topic and the way that you lay things out for your reader. You need to show your reader (not tell them) what you are trying to describe by illustrating a picture in their mind’s eye very carefully.

Your essay needs to be structured in a manner that helps your topic to make sense. If you are describing an event, you will need to write your paragraphs in chronological order. If you are writing about a person or a place you need to order the paragraphs so that you start off in a general manner and then write more specific details later. Your introductory paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the essay, so it needs to set out all of the main ideas that you are going to cover in your essay.

Step 2: Create a statement

The next step is to create a thesis statement. This is a single idea that will be prominent throughout your essay. It not only sets out the purpose of the essay, but regulates the way that the information is conveyed in the writing of that essay. This is an introductory paragraph that sets out your topic framework.

Step 3: Get the senses right

Next, create five labelled columns on a sheet of paper, each one having a different of the five senses. This labelled list will help you to sort out your thoughts as you describe your topic – the taste, sight, touch, smell and sound of your topic can be sketched out among the columns. List out in the columns any sensation or feeling that you associate with the topic that you are writing about. You need to provide full sensory details that help to support the thesis. You can utilize literary tools such as metaphors, similes, personification and descriptive adjectives.

Once you have the columns laid out you can start to fill them with details that help to support your thesis. These should be the most interesting items that you have noted in your columns and will the details that you flesh out into the paragraphs of the body of your essay. Topics are set out in each separate paragraph and a topic sentence begins that paragraph and need to relate to your introductory paragraph and your thesis.

Step 4: Create an outline

The next step is to create an outline listing the details of the discussion of each paragraph. Students in high school are generally asked to write a five paragraph essay while college students are given more freedom with the length of their piece. The standard five paragraph essay has a particular structure including the introductory paragraph with the inclusion of a thesis statement, followed by three body paragraphs which prove that statement.

Step 5: Write the conclusion

Finally, the conclusion paragraph makes a summary of the entirety of your essay. This conclusion also needs to reaffirm your thesis (if necessary). Your conclusion needs to be well written because it is the final thing to be read by your reader and will remain on their mind the longest after they have read the remainder of your essay.

Step 6: Review your essay

It is important to take a break from your writing once you have completed the work. By stepping away from the work for a short time you can clear your mind and take a short rest. You can then take a look at the essay with fresh eyes and view it in much the same way that a person reading it will when they first see the piece.

After you have taken a short break or a walk (or whatever the case may be), read the entire essay again thinking about your reader. You should ask yourself if you were the reader, would the essay make sense to you? Is it easy to read so that anyone can understand what the topic of the essay is? Do any of the paragraphs need to be rewritten because they are confusing and need to be better written to be descriptive?

Your choice of words and language need to convey what you are trying to describe when you talk about a particular topic. The details that you have provided should give your reader enough information that they can form a complete picture. Any details in the essay should help a reader to understand the meaning of the topic from the writer’s point of view.

Read your entire essay over again, out loud this time. Sometimes reading something out loud can help to identify any issues that should be worked out. Read the essay again to a friend or family member and have them give you any criticisms that they might have. Have someone else ready your essay and then ask them if anything needs to be clarified or if they received a clear picture from the details given in the essay.

Step 7: Finish it up

Finally, read your essay again very carefully and check for any grammar, punctuation or spelling errors that are obvious within the essay. If you find any clichés, be sure to delete them, they certainly do not belong in your essay. If there are any parts that are not completely descriptive or don’t make as much sense as you would like them to, rewrite them once again and then follow the proof reading and reading aloud process again to ensure that the final product is exactly as expected. You can never be too thorough when it comes to reading the essay over again and checking for any areas that need to be reworked.

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