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Choosing a Topic for the Descriptive Essay

If you’re not sure what to write about, consider the following descriptive essay topics.
  • A Person of Importance to You
  • A Significant Place
  • A Memory
  • A Precious Object
  • A Frightening Place
  • An Intimidating Person
  • The Best Season of the Year
  • A Person You Admire
  • A Summer Vacation
  • A Wedding Ceremony

Before Writing, Ask Yourself Why

Before you can even begin writing the descriptive essay, you need to have a clear idea why you are writing it. Was it a life-changing event? Was it something that was truly memorable? Did it happen frequently? If you have no idea why this essay is interesting, your reader wont either. After establishing why, ask yourself which qualities or attributes of the person, place, or thing you want to focus on.

Picking the Qualities

Once you’ve chosen your topic, sit down and think carefully about what you what to describe in your essay and how you’re going to go about it.

Let’s say that your chosen topic is “My Summer in Poland.” Pick out the general details about your summer in Poland that you’ll write about in your essay:

For Example:
  • Warsaw
  • Lazienki Park
  • Summer Chopin Concert Series
  • Vistula River
  • Palace of Culture and Science
  • Stary Miasto

After this add more specific details
  • White blossoms covering the streets at the beginning of June
  • Sunday afternoons listening to pianists play Chopin in Lazienki Park
  • Seeing the surrounding hills of Mazovia from the top of the Palace of Culture and Science.
  • Wandering the old twisting streets of Stary Miasto
  • Spending summer afternoons laying in the sun on the banks of the Vistula River
  • Sounds of church bells and people singing on Sunday mornings
  • Processions of children and banners on Corpus Christi

Once you’ve done this, you can very clearly see which details and senses you will utilize the most in your work. With the above example, the senses that will be used are sight, sound, and touch.

Drafting the Descriptive Essay

After you’ve done all the necessary preparation, it’s time to start writing. Keep in mind the senses that you want to focus on and use them in as much detail as possible. This way your readers will have the same emotions or feelings. In general though, begin your essay with broad details and unfold the specifics gradually. In the beginning, imagine that you are writing a five-paragraph essay with three main ideas or topics. When constructing the thesis statement for your descriptive essay, think about the following: What emotion or impression is your thesis going to make throughout your essay? Is it a sad, happy, angry, or funny recollection?

Revising the Descriptive Essay

When you are ready to begin revising, ask the following:
  • Did you provide enough details for the reader?
  • Are there any details that could be eliminated or added?
  • Was your word usage effective for expressing your intended emotions?
  • Does every paragraph focus on a specific aspect of you description?
  • Are your paragraphs ordered in the best way possible?

Descriptive Essay Example

I spent my first summer after college living and working in Warsaw Poland. As a history student, I was well aware of Warsaw’s complete and utter destruction in World War II. Consequently, I expected to see nothing less than communist-era gray buildings everywhere with little aesthetic beauty. However when I arrived at the beginning of June, I was surprised to see beautiful white blossoms crowning all of the trees. On the Feast of Corpus Christi, lines of children dressed to receive their First Communion were gathered in beautiful and colorful processions to all the churches. Singing and praying could often be heard from the nearby churches on Sundays and on important feast days. I truly enjoyed my stay in this beautiful and vibrant city, whose spirit could not be crushed by either the Nazis or the Communists.

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