How To Write Descriptive Narrative Essay

September 15, 2022 Umer


Essay writing is one of the most commonly used mediums in academic institutions to gauge the writing and thinking capabilities of students. Teachers provide students with topics and outlines to better understand the essay’s demands and structure.

There are many types of essays, from narrative to argumentative and expository. Each has its strong points of focus and creativity that highlight its unique identity.

Out of all the different essay types, descriptive essays provide a lot of intellectual liberty and freedom to students and writers as well.

Descriptive Narrative Essay 101

Defining a descriptive narrative essay is easy as it is self-explanatory by the name. A descriptive narrative essay is about giving a detailed and rich account of a person, place, thing, or idea. Since it has no standard structure to differentiate between many parts of the essay, writers can go about it, in almost any way that seems appropriate.

These types of essays help students explore subtle meanings and emotions through introspection and then highlight them through original language that is hard to emulate.

Description Vs. Descriptive Essay

Many people confuse a descriptive essay with the description of the things upon which essays can be written. In reality, both notions have many differences.

The biggest one is the structure. A descriptive essay will always have a coherent structure, starting with a proper introduction, then a detailed body, and then a satisfying closing to tie all the loose ends.

On the other hand, a description does not have a multi-tiered structure but could range from a single to multiple paragraphs, with a semblance of bridging. 

Outline Of A Descriptive Narrative Essay

Research and outline go without saying in every essay writing process if writers are looking to leave their marks on the minds of their readers. Even though a narrative essay is based on a personal experience or incident and a descriptive essay may seem more spontaneous than a planned discourse, it is necessary to understand the structure. 


Introduction or opening is about setting a hook for the readers and introducing them to the setting and context of the essay. It usually consists of a single paragraph with a thesis statement in the last lines of the section.

Writers should put in a lot of time and effort in composing this section because readers are going to decide whether they want to read the essay or not based on the compelling and riveting nature of this part.


This has the biggest chunk of the essay, mostly covering around three paragraphs of the total two. All the essential elements of the essay are incorporated in this section, including sensory and concrete details to help students better understand the topic and its relation to the essay.

Since there is no cohesive narrative in a descriptive narrative essay, writers should use transitory words and phrases to foreshadow and introduce new elements to the essay to keep readers engaged.


This is the closing of the essay where a writer summarizes all the finer points and themes of the discourse. The importance of the conclusion cannot be downplayed in the overall structure and dynamics of the essay because this is the last thing that readers will read and probably remember about the essay.

That’s why many writers reiterate the central point or theme of the essay in the last sentence to bridge the whole discourse and sign off with a memorable phrase or sentence.

Approaches To Write A Descriptive Essay

Descriptive narrative essays can be deceptive because they seem too easy or too casual for novice writers, such as students in schools and colleges. That’s why it is necessary to help them learn the popular approaches to descriptive writing. This will further illustrate the needs of each angle and aid them in exploring further.

Personal Essay

Personal essays in descriptive narrative essays are about describing a person’s experience and the responses to them. It should not have unnecessary details but only the ones that are essential to the discourse. This type of writing demands from writers uses imagery and vigorous language to connect with readers at an emotional level.

Examples of descriptive writing could be;

  • Shedding light on the experience of swimming with sharks
  • Explaining your favorite tv serial with readers
  • Reflecting on your past and finding things that impacted your growth as a person

Formal Description

In this type of descriptive essay, writers are required to write a description of a thing that is quantifiable in the physical world. It can be about highlighting skyscrapers in a metropolitan or walking through the jungle with a hunting party.

When looking from this angle, this formal description is more like an argumentative essay because it is not only dependent on the subjective experiences of the writer but also on the real nature of the thing or the experience.

Just like the personal description, its formal counterpart can be made interesting using literary devices and other tricks.

Here are some examples of formal descriptions:

  • Description of the impending climate crisis and the political and social factors responsible for it
  • A story about an event that was also covered by media, such as a crime

Professional Tips To Write A Descriptive Narrative Essay

Just like the purpose of writing a narrative essay is to entertain the readers and help them relate to the main characters, the rationale behind writing descriptive narrative essays is about bringing things to life.

To do that, writers need to come up with interesting ways to highlight the defining things about the subject.

Figurative Language

When language is used in a non-literal way to highlight the characteristics of the things under consideration, it is called figurative language.

It creates a lasting effect and helps readers better understand and “see” the thing or place or person. Many literary devices can play this part, such as similes, metaphors, and so on. 

There are many ways to incorporate this element in writing. For instance, when a writer is trying to explain a piece of land with its distinct marks, it is best to compare it with a vivid description of something else that looked just like that piece of land.

Keep in mind that the trick here is to do these in moderation. Filling every section with multiple similes and a lot of figurative languages can disrupt the pace.

Figurative Language

The Right Words

Choosing the right words for each thing or idea is also essential to compose a compelling description. While the use of figurative language can be counterproductive to this approach, the idea here is to balance one with the other and vice versa.

For instance, many writers keep on writing tries and testing idioms and phrases that have become cliches. There is no room for such things in a strongly-woven description.

Whether it is an action, an emotion, or a thing in the description, it should be explained using the right pertinent words.

That’s why researching and making some effort in the pre-writing phase yields exceptional rewards.

The Right Words

Sensory Details

It is hard to describe a thing if we are constrained not to use sensory words. Sensory words are words that can describe the characteristics of things based on the data collected and analyzed by our senses. This includes smell, taste, the feeling of touching, and so on.

Again, writers can employ figurative language and literary devices to draw parallels between no unrelated things. For example, we cannot know what fear could taste like but if a writer compares it with the feeling of breathlessness and being lightheaded, then it can resonate with a majority of readers.

The key here is to always do this in moderation because too much usage can render even forceful descriptions limbless.

Sensory Details

Compartmentalization Is The Key

Many writers make the mistake of taking this essay type too casually or easily. Of course, it has no cohesive structure apart from the format we have highlighted above.

For students who struggle with actually making the best of their descriptive narrative essays, it is necessary to compartmentalize different aspects.

Start with research and organization. Gather all the necessary data before writing because frequent interruptions can hamper the flow of thoughts and words.

After the writing phase, it is necessary to go through the written material several times and edit it thoroughly. No matter what you think or have heard from others, good writing is mostly good editing and proofreading.

Compartmentalization Is The Key

Checklist To Add Value To Your Essay

Before we conclude our talk, here are some fine points in the form of a checklist that will help a writer in composing a winning descriptive narrative essay.

  • Context and rich introduction
  • Readability of the essay
  • Connecting the thesis statement with the text
  • Vivid, thought-provoking language
  • Specific sections for specified details
  • Grammatical and spelling correctness
  • Contextual soundness

By going through this checklist, writers can be sure of the effectiveness of their writing. If it seems like a miss, they can always make it better by focusing on the things on the checklist.


What distinguishes a descriptive essay from a narrative essay?

A narrative essay is written to tell a complete story with believable characters, a surprising plot, and a relatable theme. Whereas a descriptive essay only describes a thing, a person, a place, or an emotion, often within the context of the writer.

How do you write a descriptive narrative essay?

Here are the steps involved in writing a descriptive narrative essay:

  • Pick a topic
  • Gather necessary information
  • Create an online
  • Follow that online
  • Revise and proofread
  • Submit for evaluation

What is a descriptive structure?

A descriptive structure is a path that a descriptive narrative essay follows for effective writing. It has the formatting of a standard essay starting with an opening and closing with a conclusion, with a well-explained body in the middle.

How do you write a descriptive paragraph?

To get hold of the reader’s attention, it is best to introduce the subject from the first sentence. This way, they can learn what it is all about and whether they are interested or not. Then, it is about making every sentence and every word count because a paragraph is very much different from a full-fledged essay.

How can I start a descriptive narrative essay?

Descriptive narrative essays start with an introduction or an opening. It is about setting a scene and providing a context to the readers to get them invested in the essay. Most essays start with a hook, which can be a bold statement or a thought-provoking question.


Do descriptive narrative essays have rigid structures?

Unlike other essays, descriptive narrative essays do not follow rigid structures. Of course, they do have a clear opening, a body to explain the subject further, and then closing to summarize the important points.


Writing descriptive narrative essays can be an uphill task for students, especially those who do not even understand its basic structure and needs. This blog post was targeted toward students and novice writers who are struggling with writing impactful essays and discourses.

We have shed ample light on the structure and demands of a descriptive essay along with its different approaches. In addition to this, we have also shared some practical tips with students so that they can incorporate them easily in their writing.

It is worth remembering that writing a descriptive narrative essay is a complete process with different parts. It is best to acknowledge each section and proceed accordingly.

Exclusive Perks

Thorough Research
for $3.99
Topic Selection
for $2.99
Standard Formatting
for $2.50
Plagiarism Report
for $3.50