This article lays out how to format and write your descriptive essay in a frank and easy to follow manner. A descriptive essay format is as simple as you make it. You can use the introduction, body and conclusion format if you wish, or you can add in research sections, data sections, analysis, evaluations, etc. This article shows you how to format your essay in a simple fashion that will help you get a better grade in an efficient manner.
Writing a descriptive essay doesn’t mean you need to use descriptive language
This one is a little difficult to explain. There are a lot of people that write very poor descriptive essays because they use descriptive language and therefore add a lot of fluff. It may sound very nice when you say it with several words, but if it can be said with four words then you should go for four.
There is being descriptive and there is being creative. A “pool of light” sounds nice, but it is still a creative use of language that could be replaced with “poorly lit” or “adequately lit.” By all means you should use descriptive language to actually describe something, such as saying the surface texture was “pimply”, but not creatively descriptive such as saying the surface texture was “pimply like a cold teen with goose bumps.”
You can make it as short as you like, but the main aim it to tell people what your essay is about so that they may decide to read. You can “sex” it up a bit with language more closely related to marketing, but do not go too far. You want your essay to appear more like a documentary on TV rather than a new report where they tell you the answer right after the commercial break. In other words, the introduction may have a hook so long as that hook is not the promise of extra information.
In essence, your introduction tells people what data is contained within the essay, which means telling the reader what you are describing, why and how. Your introduction varies depending upon what you are writing about. For example, if your essay is about a place or an event, then the introduction sets the stage, if your essay is about a person then your introduction introduces that person and tells the reader why he or she should care. You will have to figure out the priority within your introduction based upon your subject–just remember to treat your reader as if they have no vested interest in reading your essay so that you do not brush over too many fundamental facts.
There is a good chance that the first paragraph will have to expand upon the introduction. It may have introduced a concept, person, thing, event, place, etc, and it may have sold the idea of reading the essay, but the reader may still be in the dark about the subject as a whole.
Further paragraphs should get into the details about your subject. Ideally, you should deal with the biggest themes and issues first. These may be the ones that the reader is expecting and knows about already. As you progress through your essay, you may touch upon the smaller issues and things that people may not know about.
The big issues or big points are what matter primarily, and if you do not mention them first then your essay may not flow very well. For example, you may be writing about 1945, but your essay may look a little uneven if you do not mention the end of the 2nd world war near the beginning. The end of the war wasn’t until the end of the year, but you should probably mention it near the beginning of the essay unless you are writing it in chronological order.
Choose if you want to go for empirical and literal, or emotional and image based. You also need to decide your tense, as it may not work as well if you jump from past, present and future tense within the essay, though it can work if needed.
You may also need to decide how much external factors will impact when interacting with your subject. A nice house may be covered with mud, or a person that did good deeds may have died for a crime. External factors may affect your descriptions quite a bit. Time is an external factor you may have to consider, which also means you have to consider the past and the future too when you describe (or do you? You decide).
There are some descriptive essays that do not have a conclusion, but if you are writing an essay as part of your education, then it is best to include a conclusion. Your conclusion need not be a very long one; in fact, it need only be a sentence long if you wish.
You can put a certain end to the descriptive essay and announce it as such, or you can simply end on a strong note. Your subject may not have a literal end. For example, if you where writing about a concept, thought, emotion or even a person that is still alive.
How you balance your work
There is a line between imagery and literal fact. You can describe something with lots of feeling and imagery for the benefit of the reader. Or, you can stick to plain empirical fact that can be proven. For example, you could say how the surface of an apple is made of a waxy substance that is two microns thick that is laid upon the combined cell walls of the organic apple skin. Or, you can say the apple is as shiny and green as a snooker ball and feels smooth and polished to the touch. Both describe the outer of an apple, but both do it in two very different ways. If you go down the imagery route then be wary of fluffing up your work with unneeded wordage as you attempt to evoke feelings in the reader.