How to Write a Descriptive Essay [2022] – Guide, Outline, & Sample

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Learn How to Write a Descriptive Essay

I. Descriptive Essay Definition

Descriptive Essays are some of the most common types of literary works that we write throughout our lives. Whether at school, at work, or in everyday life, we write descriptions of various topics

However, despite engaging and describing various topics in our day-to-day lives, many of us struggle to learn how to write a descriptive essay. For the most part, this is because of the technicalities involved in the writing process and confusion regarding our idea of what is a descriptive essay.

What is a Descriptive Essay?

From the term itself, descriptive essays are focused on providing a “description” of a particular person, thing, event, or experience. This can either be done objectively or subjectively for as long as the writing style is primarily to report such fact or circumstance. 

One example of a descriptive essay is an illustration of a new plant species. Compared to other types of essays, a scientist who would want to prepare a report on his findings on this plant would focus on an accurate description of its external features, the environment where it is thriving, and its role in the ecosystem, naming a few.

Similarly, you can see from the descriptive essay examples below that the central (and perhaps most important) goal of a descriptive essay is to provide an objective explanation of a thing, place, event, or idea to the readers.

How do you Write an Interesting Descriptive Essay?

Despite the straightforward nature of descriptive writing, crafting an effective descriptive essay is much more difficult than we believe. This difficulty extends from finding the perfect descriptive essay topics, writing an interesting piece, and conveying the information to the reader. 

A descriptive essay that can perform its intended purpose would require more experience and skill, even for experienced writers. 

In this article, I would like to lay out some common techniques on how to write a descriptive essay and provide recommendations from award-winning authors. 

You can also browse and download the descriptive essay examples below by signing up and using the coupon to get your free essay. We recommend that you use this paper as a guide for writing your own descriptive essays. 

II. Descriptive vs. Narrative Essays

Before we proceed with learning how to write a descriptive essay outline, I believe it would be best to clarify one of the most common confusions that writers experience – the difference between descriptive and narrative essays. 

Learning how to write, However, since narrative and descriptive essays are almost identical, it is easy to confuse the two. Thus, the following section will provide a brief idea of the differences between the two. 

As writers, it is essential to distinguish the differences between descriptive and narrative essays. Although these two are almost identical, being able to focus on the specific points of a descriptive essay would make your writing more effective and powerful. 

Here are some of the most common differences between the two. 

Common differences between Descriptive and Narrative Essays | How to Write a Descriptive Essay
Common differences between Descriptive and Narrative Essays | How to Write a Descriptive Essay

III. Tips for Writing a Descriptive Essay

Similar to other types of essays, writing a successful descriptive essay would require (1) a clear idea of your goal, (1) a good structure, and a (2) effective choice and use of words.

A. Clear Idea of your Goal

Like any other kind of writing, a descriptive essay would only succeed if the writer had a clear goal. Although the main goal is indeed in a descriptive essay is to “describe,” the reality is that these kinds of essays have an underlying purpose, such as to persuade or create an emotional appeal on the part of the reader.

For example, in novels, authors usually describe the story’s setting, especially at the beginning. However, even in these portions of the story, he is already trying to create a visual image that would contribute to the goal of the story. 

Take, for example, the description of London in Dicken’s Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist:

The public-houses, with gas-lights burning inside, were already open. By degrees, other shops began to be unclosed, and a few scattered people were met with. Then, came straggling groups of labourers going to their work; then, men and women with fish-baskets on their heads; donkey-carts laden with vegetables; chaise-carts filled with livestock or whole carcasses of meat; milk-women with pails; an unbroken concourse of people trudging out with various supplies to the eastern suburbs of the town. As they approached the City, the noise and traffic gradually increased; when they threaded the streets between Shoreditch and Smithfield, it had swelled into a roar of sound and bustle.

At first, this would only seem to be a vivid and compelling description of London during the Victorian era. However, a closer analysis of the story would show that this description already creates the impression of this city’s vastness and mysterious nature and the contribution of this complicated new world to Oliver’s struggles

This part shows that having a clear goal in mind is essential to determining the structure and words you would use to write your descriptive essay. 

If you are planning to write or buy descriptive essays, one good tip is to determine whether the piece or writer has a clear goal in mind. If you are writing pursuant to instruction, it would be easier to have that goal since you only have to follow what is explicitly provided. 

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B. Use of Effective and Organized Structure

First, a good structure would allow the reader to comprehend and grasp the overall point of the essay quickly. Please note that since a descriptive essay focuses on describing the subject, an illogical or vague structure would make it more difficult for the reader to understand what you are saying. 

For example, if you are writing a descriptive essay about a new plant species, you would want to describe each structure specifically and separately from one another. Otherwise, jumping from one point to another would confuse and even lack enthusiasm for the reader to read it until the end. Here is an example of a short descriptive essay outline for a hypothetical new plant speciesAmazonius descripticus

  1. Introduction
    1. Description of Amazonius descriprticus
      1. Physical Characteristics
        • Physical Structures
          • Flowers; Leaves; Fruits; Stems; Roots
        • Ecosystem (location)
          • Type of relationship
            • Commensalism
        • Reproductive Features and Mechanisms.

Note the organized structure from the outline provided above. Using this structure, there would be little need for the reader to guess about the context, idea, or any other literary devices you are using. Instead, focus solely on your description of the Amazonius descripticus. 

This is very important, especially for scientific or highly objective papers which aim to inform rather than persuade your readers. 

We will give some tips and tricks for writing an effective descriptive essay outline in the succeeding sections to learn more about this. Nonetheless, whether you are looking to buy descriptive essays or write one for yourself, one important tip is to check whether to determine whether the piece has a good and effective structure. 

C. Effective Choice and Use of Words

Another critical aspect of a Descriptive essay is effective choice and usage of words. 

Note that your primary goal in these kinds of work is to describe, which means that the description must be as vivid as possible. This would allow the reader to visualize and understand the details even by keeping the words as concise as possible. 

Take a look at the example below, where the author tries to describe what is happening in a scene. 

  • The girl sitting at the table looked sad. She was holding a brown cup while looking at the blue clouds
  • The girl sitting at the table was looking miserable. She stared at the bright, blue clouds with a cup in hand. 

The first part of the sentences focused on the use of words. Since our focus was to describe and illustrate the girl’s sadness, changing the words from ‘sad’ to ‘miserable’ showed the intensity of the girl’s feelings and emotions. 

In contrast, the second part of the sentence shows a difference in usage. Please note how the change in sentence structure helped create a more vivid picture in relation to the portrayal of sadness on her part.

Additionally, while you might think that removing the word “brown” in describing the cup was a mistake, it was not. It is usually good practice to omit details that are not necessary to your description’s goal. Thus, the cup’s color usage (or non-usage) does not affect the description but even increases its vividness. 

Thus, it is usually good practice to check the thesaurus and check for alternative terms for the descriptive words and check whether the nature and intensity of such terms would better reflect the picture you want your readers to see. 

Now that you have seen some of the tips for writing a descriptive essay, the next step is to write your outline. 

IV. Descriptive Essay Outline

There are many ways to write a descriptive essay outline depending on your writing task’s nature, instructions, and requirements. Nonetheless, the outline below provides an example of how to write one based on the topic “Recycling Methods in Our Household.”

Descriptive Outline Sample


  • Hook

Placing a hook is essential for any descriptive essay. Since these kinds of essays usually involve a lengthy description of the facts, using a phrase, statement, or sentence that would capture the reader’s (or viewer’s) attention is essential for your narrative essay’s success.

While there are a lot of hooks that you can use, some of the most common include; (1) quotation, (2) anecdotal, (3) statistic, (4) question, and (5) statement hooks.

Environmental pollution and degradation are major causes of social problems for both present and future generations.

Note that the quote above both creates an emotional appeal and a short introduction to the essay’s context. 

  • Overview of Subject

After the hook, providing more context to what you will describe in the succeeding paragraphs is good practice. Simply jumping to a description would not only make your readers lose interest but would also make it challenging to ascertain what your point is in the essay. 

In this essay, the author would like to describe the various recycling methods they are using at home. This includes the specific details of segregating, organizing, and disposing of various household materials.

You could already see how the essay would go from the above statement. This creates a mental image or a timeline of what the readers could expect, thereby making it easier to read. 

  • Personal Feeling / Sensory Detail

After describing what you would discuss, you can provide your perspective on the matter. This may or may not be required for a descriptive essay, but some writers add this to “spice up” the delivery of the message. 

Additional, it would be best to add vivid sensory details in this section. This is the essence of a descriptive essay, which is the reason why you should add them even in the introduction. 

I believe that these techniques are essential for the collective efforts against climate change and environmental pollution. After three months of doing these methods, our home looked tidier, our plants were thriving, and we felt better and fulfilled with the daily activities knowing that we contribute to making our environment a better place.

Notice the use of vivid sensory details in the second part of the sentence above. The adjectives tidier, thriving, and fulfilled are enough to elicit an initial impression about the results or effects of the description. 

One tip if you are looking to buy descriptive essays is to determine whether your writer has sufficient experience in writing. In my experience, experienced writers have a better grasp of words, which allows them to determine the most appropriate term for each emotion, detail, or literary device, to name a few. 


The body of the essay should include various descriptions of your topic. 

  • Specific Detail / Topic Sentence

Like any other essay, each body paragraph should have its topic sentence, focusing on one supporting detail of your topic/thesis statement. 

The first step in household recycling is the segregation of your wastes.

From the topic sentence above, it was clear that this particular paragraph would focus on describing various segregation methods or techniques for segregating your wastes at home. 

  • Factual Details

After the topic sentence, there should be a clear and in-depth presentation of factual details, which is the core of a descriptive essay. For example, since we are discussing segregation, you can start by providing step-by-step details about how to do segregation. 

We usually start our segregation methods by sorting out the biodegradable, non-biodegradable, and recyclable materials. We use separate bins for each for easy disposal. Accordingly, we sort the recyclable materials between plastics, paper, cardboard, styrofoam, etc.

Despite the conciseness of the statement above, it is clear that it clearly describes how the segregation process goes. If you are already writing a descriptive essay, this would be longer than this. 

  • Sensory Detail with Vivid Language

The use of vivid language may be a separate or integrated part of your “factual details.” It would be best to place this in your outline to make sure that you use the most appropriate and effective words to create a mental image for your readers. 

For example, if you want to describe what you feel or do in terms of segregation, then you can use the following:

I felt that the segregation process is the best part of the recycling process. Sorting each waste between large, multi-colored bins was a bonding experience for the whole family.

Take note of vivid language, especially in describing the bins and the experience altogether. 


  • Critical Point / Thesis Restatement

The critical point is merely a restatement of your topic or thesis statement. 

In a descriptive essay, this should reiterate the purpose of why you wrote the series of descriptions in the first place. 

Note, however, that you have to package this in a way that summarizes and motivates your audience to follow your goal in writing the essay. 

Recycling is the easiest and best way that we can contribute to the collective efforts to curb pollution in our environment. It provides the least amount of effort with the most gain, especially if done by each and every one of us.

In this topic, we explicitly state that our goal is to describe (primary goal) and persuade (underlying goal) about the various methods that we can use for recycling in the household. From the statement above, it was clear that we encapsulate the summary of what was described with an underlying call to action to participate in saving our planet. 

  • Additional Details

The additional details would give the reader any additional information you want them to learn. 

Although this is an opportunity to add information to your descriptive essay, adding too many details that were not included in the body should be used sparingly. This is because the body of your descriptive essay should have already discussed all of this information in the first place. 

Nonetheless, you can use this portion to increase interest or improve retention of the details you have discussed before. 

  • Clincher Statement / Call-to-Action

The clincher statement has almost the same purpose as your hook. However, rather than encouraging your readers to read further, its primary purpose is to motivate them to retain, apply, or work towards a goal. 

In line with this topic, you can use your clincher statement to provide the reader with a call to action, motivating them to participate in recycling efforts using the descriptions that you provided in your essay. 

One piece of advice, whether you are planning to write or buy descriptive essays, is to determine whether the conclusion is (1) broad enough to encompass all the details in your body but (2) narrow enough to prevent the addition of other details which were not discussed by your topic sentences. 

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V. Descriptive Writing Examples

Now that you have a grasp of the essential tools needed to write an exciting and effective descriptive essay, the next thing to do is practice.
Below, you can find a sample descriptive essay that you can use as a template for your specific task.
In case you need more descriptive essay examples, don’t hesitate to send us an email or message through our live chat.

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