How To Start A Descriptive Essay

October 3, 2022 F WP
How to start a descriptive essay

How To Start A Descriptive Essay

Table of Contents


Writing has a magical effect around it. When writing is done by professional writers, it can help them create fictional worlds and characters going through make-believe circumstances. But people care about all of the fictional things and make a name for the writer as well as fortune.

When writing is done in schools and colleges, students can earn higher scores than their peers and pave their way for higher education or ultimately to higher paying jobs. The bulk of academic writing is purpose-based and dry, with no room for students to showcase their signature and writing styles, except for the essays.

What Is A Descriptive Essay?

One of the commonly used types of essays in educational institutes to gauge the thinking and writing capabilities of students is descriptive writing. When further classified into an essay form, a descriptive essay is an expansive account of a person, a thing, or a place, by the writer using descriptive language and other devices.

The rationale behind writing in descriptive is to showcase the “self” of the subject under consideration. It is the writer’s job to incorporate both objective and subjective elements in the essay so that the person, thing, or place becomes more than its face value.

Another thing about descriptive writing is that it is more than just creating an image or sketching the silhouettes of the objects that are the focus of the topic. It is about connecting the readers with the topic and letting them see, feel, touch, and smell what is relevant.

The Purpose of Writing A Descriptive Essay

The primary purpose of writing a narrative essay is to entertain the readers and provide them with all the details that can suffice for them to draw moral lessons and parallels from the narrative. Similarly, a descriptive essay also has a purpose that is identical to that of a narrative essay.

Whether it is an event, a person, a thing, or a place, fictional or otherwise, the purpose of writing a descriptive essay is to connect the dots for the readers in such a way that they can get the essence of the subject and can describe it in their own words.

To fulfill that purpose, writers usually rely on sensory details and figurative language to sketch and draw the ultimate picture.

Starting A Descriptive Essay

As mentioned in the earlier sections, starting an essay requires finesses and control over elements of the essay. The writer should set the perfect stage and lure the readers in. While making things interesting and irresistible for the readers, he can slip in details that will seem natural and exactly in place. There are many ways to start a descriptive essay that can take the readers by surprise, a bold statement, a question, or a statistic relating to your topic. This section is dedicated to providing breadcrumbs to students so that they can find their path to start and finish off a descriptive essay.
Choosing A Suitable Topic

The foremost step in starting a descriptive essay is to choose a suitable topic and then turn it into a working title. Many students mistake the topic for the title, although both are different things. A topic can be a person, a thing, or a place that needs description, and the title could be “the haunted house” if the essay is on describing a place. The same goes for other subjects, but the need remains the same.

Composing A Bold, Brief Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is one of the most important elements of the essay, whether it is a narrative essay or a descriptive essay. It captures the essence of the essay through a bold and brief statement, often placed at the end of the introduction or the opening of the essay. An essay is not complete without a thesis statement so writers should keep that in mind to compose one while writing the essay as it also foreshadows the impending action.

Outlining – From Start To Finish

The purists are of the view that outlining is the death of creativity. While these claims are subjective and fall flat, especially when writers are novices, there are some aspects true about them. On the other hand, outlining is a great tool for students who want to capture the essence of the subject. It allows them to have something to work on as well as not to lose track of the topic. Not to mention it is a great antidote to writer’s block.

Opening With A Bang

One of the most important sections of a descriptive essay is its opening. Many readers go through it to check the quality and scope of an essay before reading it. When writing for school or admission, the opening lines can determine the outcome for the writer, in terms of grades or admission. All in all, opening or introducing the essay properly is a must before everything follows in its footsteps. Whatever you do, it should be enticing enough for the readers to go on.

Using Sensory Details To Provide Context

We cannot stress it enough that providing sensory details to the readers is the foremost thing about descriptive writing. There is no other way to make things, places, and people alive than to show the readers how they look, feel, taste, smell, or sound. Of course, all the details crammed into a paragraph are not a good idea but you need to work up things and come up with ideas to better your prose. There is so much to explore in this area.

Showing Instead of Describing

The adage of showing but not telling is a clear light tower for students. There are no better ways to make things come alive, particularly in a descriptive essay. For instance, if you are trying to describe a forest or a wilderness, you can show what it looks like, how it smells, and how it feels to be there. While relying on sensory details and figurative language, showing can become easier and more potent for both the readers and the writers.

Tips To Improve Your Descriptive Essay

It is a fact that writing is subjective and takes a lot of practice and grit before a writer can describe a person, a thing, a place, or an event with confidence in his story or an essay. There is a trade-off always going on while writing between description and action as the former can stall the latter. That’s why it is necessary to have a solid grab of the pace of things.

In this spirit, here are some practical tips that can help you add value to your description and the overall descriptive essay.

Putting Imagination To Work

Writing descriptions could be easier but making things come to life is hard. As a writer, it is best to sit down and go through the mental process of nailing every element into place.

The best way to put your imagination in the mix of things is to see the characters of the description moving around in the setting. If it is about an object or a place, it is best to “see” it first and then describe it in words that are true to its form and help readers see and feel it.

Engaging Readers’ Senses

Describing a scene or a person can be tricky especially when you are flat on a paper that has no third dimension to it. The best way to do so is by engaging readers’ senses through language that can help the readers connect with the subject in consideration. For instance, the five senses of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste can be employed to better effect.

Instead of relying on wimpy and weak words and phrases, create your own that can connect the dots for the readers. This is the hallmark of descriptive writing and has immense innovation potential.

Using Dynamic Words And Phrases

Let us start with an example, the word thunder can tell the readers about the sky getting ready to rain. But if you are describing a night where an accident or any other unpleasant thing happened, you can use powerful words such as “roared” or “grunted” to add further effect. When going through the description, students should aim for pertinent words and phrases that can reflect the essence. Especially, in the proofreading and editing phase, they can work on improving the description because then they can do so without hurting the progress.

Writing Detailed Descriptions For Characters

Whether you want to add all the details or just the most important ones, it is necessary to write detailed descriptions for the characters or other essential elements of the essay. This allows the writers to “see” before describing the thing. When it comes to describing a person, think about all the things that can set him apart from other human beings, be it the color of his eyes, his gait, his way of talking, and more. Once you have done it, it becomes easier to cover the rest since you have put life into the gist of the essay.


A descriptive essay is about telling the whole story of the narrator and the subject under consideration. Whereas, a description can be a sentence or a paragraph that is intensive in its approach toward picturing the person, place, thing, or event.

There are many ways you can start a description that can attract your readers to get invested further. Start with a good hook in the opening so that they would want to know more. Then, set the stage and finish off the introduction with a thesis statement. This is a tested way for writers to connect with the readers. 

The first step to starting a great descriptive essay is to choose the topic and form a captivating, attractive title. It should be informative enough for the readers to guess about, but not reveal too much so that they can get to the theme and content of the essay by just going through the title.

The perfect examples of descriptive writing capture the essence of the subject using literary devices and figurative language. They also follow the adage of “show, don’t tell” because this is what descriptive essay writing is about.

Here is a simple yet effective content flow for a descriptive essay:

  • Choosing a topic and forming a title
  • Researching necessary information
  • Making an outline
  • Writing the introduction
  • Finishing the body and conclusion
  • Proofreading and editing

A descriptive essay follows the same structure or format as that of a narrative essay. It has three main sections:

  • An opening/ introduction (starting with a hook to lure readers in and set the stage)
  • The main body (describing all the elements, including setting, characters, details, etc.)
  • A closing/ conclusion (summarizing the essence of the essay)

Summing It Up

There is no denying that writing a narrative essay is a tough task to master. Many mistake it for a personal account of a person, thing, place, or event which could lead to poor structure and formatting. In reality, a descriptive essay is about painting a lively picture of the subject so that readers can see or feel it.

Starting a descriptive essay can set the tone and pace for the essay and help the readers and writers to follow it through. We have shared a simple guide on how to start a descriptive essay through simple steps. In addition to this, we have also covered some practical tips to improve your descriptive essay.

So, whether you are writing one for the class or to secure admission to your dream college, this blog post will help you master your craft!

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