In-Depth Analysis: How to Write Descriptive/ Description Paragraphs and Essays

  • January 30, 2018 / Evengeline Ho / 0 Comment

In the last blog post, I gave a short summary on all (if not most) of the types of paragraphs and essays there are when it comes to writing an English essay, or even just an essay in general.

For this blog, however, and for the next few blog posts, we are going to delve deeper into each type of paragraph/essay, and explain how to write each paragraph properly with in-depth analysis.

 This blog post will be talking about descriptive essays or description paragraphs.

 

What is descriptive essay /description paragraph

 

A description paragraph or a descriptive essay can be defined as a segment or essay that includes many descriptive words that would easily position the reader to imagine almost exactly what the writer wants to convey.

 For example, please read the two following sentences:

  1. I felt pain.
  2. Pain. That’s all I felt. Pure pain. Flowing through my whole body like a giant wave crashing on me over and over again, and gushing over me; seeping through my limbs, my nerves, my bones, and my brain.

 

Now, which sentence would you want to read again? Or at least which sentence gave you a better sense of imagination on what the writer meant when defining what “pain” felt like? Even though the sentence is longer, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Using adjectives helps to describe the nouns effectively.

RECAP:

Adjectives: Adjectives are terms used to describe or clarify a noun, by presenting some information about an object’s size, shape, colour, material or origin.

Noun: A part of speech naming a person, place, or thing (e.g. umbrella, Scotland, man, etc.).

For example, when the term “cat” appears, what do you think of? A black cat with three legs? A fat green cat? The answer consists of a few hundred possibilities.

However, if the phrase “fluffy blue cat” appeared, there is a very high chance you will be imagining a fluffy and blue cat! Using adjectives can aid me in letting you imagine exactly what the I want you to imagine.

Therefore, the aim of a descriptive paragraph and using descriptive writing is for the reader feel like they are experiencing what the author is trying to describe to them.

 

descriptive essay ACTIVITY:

Here is a picture of Kawa-Chan in a room. Can you write a sentence or two on the environment that Kawa-Chan is in, and what Kawa-Chan is doing at that moment?

 

 

Got it? Did you get something along the lines of:

The orange Chameleon Kawa-Chan is sitting in a living room, and on a green sofa, watching volleyball showing on a grey tv. Don’t worry, there is no truly correct answer in English! There are many many ways you can write the sentence.

METAPHORS AND SIMILES

Apart from utilizing adjectives, using metaphors and similes are also another effective way of writing a descriptive paragraph.

 

RECAP

Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literal.

Simile: A method of comparison using the terms “like” or “as”.

 Metaphors and Similes can help in aiding the reader and writer convey the imagination intended.

 

For example, which sentence best describes the given scenario:

  1. She was quietly walking down the hallway.
  2. She was quietly walking down the hallway, like a mouse limbly tiptoeing through a house that has a large hungry feline is lurking about.

 

Does imagining 2) seem more intense and vivid than 1)? It shows that the writer wants to portray the girl being EXTREMELY careful when walking in the hallway; trying her best not to make a sound, rather than her being quiet, however, could be not trying her hardest to stay quiet.

 

That example above of a simile seems pretty simple, right? (Using “like” or “as” to compare something another is all there is to a simile) However, a metaphor is a bit more complex than that.

A metaphor is also a comparison (like a simile), but with two unlike things and replaces the word with another word. Complex stuff, huh? But I will list a few examples that will hopefully clear things up:

Examples of metaphor

  • To heal a broken heart
  • I am so hungry I could eat a horse
  • The toast jumped out of the toaster
  • He is the apple of my eye
  • A rollercoaster of emotions

 

If you take these phrases literally, none of them make any sense! How can a heart literally break? A toast cannot jump!

However, they are not to be taken literally; they are metaphorical. Meaning that it is a phrase used to describe something. Even though a heart cannot actually break, but going through a break up or someone dying feels like your heart has been broken. Moreover if you are so hungry, you feel like you could eat a horse (Though I think that is realistically impossible in one go).

 

PLANNING A DESCRIPTIVE PARAGRAPH

Before delving into writing a paragraph head first, you should develop a plan on how your paragraph will look like. Planning is an important concept, as it helps structure your ideas and can help make your ideas flow more smoothly once you have laid out your facts.

 

KEYNOTES WHEN PLANNING

When writing a descriptive paragraph, there are a few things you need to consider. As stated before, the aim of this essay or paragraph is to make the reader feel like they are experiencing what you are writing for them.

Therefore, giving a clear concept of all the senses (i.e. sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) in your paragraph would be very beneficial.

Example for all senses:

Sight: What would my surroundings/subject look like? (A lush green forest? A humid and scorching desert?)

Sound: What would my surroundings/subject sound like? (Wolves howling? People aimlessly chatting?)

Smell: What would my surroundings or subject smell like? (Pine scented? Freshly mowed grass scented?)

Taste: What would the objects or subject taste like? (Metallic – from blood?)

Touch: What feelings would my surroundings bring to the reader (Fear? Suspense? Lust?)

NOTE: This aspect is very important when writing in a descriptive format. The big thing you would want to convey or result from the audience is the feeling of what you wrote. For example, if you wrote a horror scene, the biggest reaction you would want from your readers is fear. Therefore, including words like “eerie” or “creaking” would create a strong aid in creating that feeling.

 

If you were trying to write to create a character, using the five senses as a baseline will help. What does my character look like? What does he/she/it sound like? Smell like? Etc. I will give you an example paragraph base off a real life character, Evengeline (that is the writer of these English blogs- that’s me! :D):

Here is the structure/plan for my paragraph:

 

SIGHT SOUND SMELL TASTE
  • Typical Asian
  • Short Black Hair
  • Brown Eyes
  • Big Eyes
  • High pitched
  • Cartoon-like
  • Dainty
  • Soft
  • Feminine
  • Lavender
  • Spicy Food

 

Evengeline is like any other Chinese Asian off the street. She shoulder length black hair, dark brown-eyes (but she always argues that her hair is actually dark brown, and her irises are golden in the sun – but people say it is like staring into the abyss when they look at her in the eye). However, she recently dyed her hair light brown, as she always had an interest in having hair color which wasn’t black. And moreover, if you take a second glance at her, you’d realize that she isn’t your typical mainland Chinese girl. She has slightly bigger eyes than most Chinese, and she isn’t as fair as them either (people say that she isn’t as tan as she says she is, but she wants to be fairer!).

As she speaks, a high pitch voice emits from her vocal chords. Many people say she sounds like a cartoon character, and she herself doesn’t like her voice (hey, who likes their own voice anyway). Her dainty and soft voice gives her a feminine complexion to her character.

As she walks, her lavender scent trails behind her every time she walks, as she not only uses lavender body wash often, but also uses lavender body spray/perfume quite often.

As she tastes, the scent of something spicy lingers in her mouth, and she is rather fond of eating spicy food.

 

Notes of grammar to take from this example:

  • Adjectives
  • Repetition (As she…As she…As she…- the power of three) → this is a very good structure to use in a story or descriptive paragraph/essay. This reinforces the subject and makes the readers more engaged with your writing.

 

Another NOTE to have is:

When choosing a topic on what to write about, it is important to pick a subject which has some meaning to you, or something which you are familiar with.

For instance, if you have minimal to zero knowledge of space, then if there is a choice, do not write a paper on it. However, if there is a choice, try to direct it to a subject which you do feel comfortable writing about, or have knowledge on. If the “space” theme is compulsory, but you have no knowledge on, however, do have more experience in the field of music, maybe you can write about an astronaut who brought his violin/instrument to the space station. Then describe how quiet and lonely it feels and they convey it with the music they play (maybe even add how there is a legend that on a quiet night, people from Earth could hear the music being played. The possibilities are endless if you have some form of imagination!)

 

There you go! I think with all these tips, you are sure to write a good descriptive paragraph or descriptive essay. Also, if you want to further improve your English, make sure to check out the other English blog posts on this website. Also, if you are having some difficulty speaking and pronouncing English words, please download and look at the FREE English eBook on this website! It tells you all the helpful tips and trick on how to improve your English pronunciation. Good luck in your English endeavors!

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