Descriptive Essay

Descriptive Essay: Descriptive composition deals in telling about the features of some person, place or thing. A good description relies upon careful observation with additional points of comparisons and associations. Good descriptions tend to be a mixture of the overall view with details added.

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Descriptive Essay

Guidelines for writing a Descriptive Essay

Step 1: Your Purpose

The first question on the think sheet is “What is my purpose for writing this essay?” It will be much easier for you to write your essay if you have an idea of why you are writing it and what you want to accomplish. Your purpose may change as you go through the writing process, but you should write down what you think your purpose is before getting started.

Step 2: Choosing Pre-Writing Techniques

The next step is to think about which pre-writing techniques will best help you to generate ideas for your topic. Mark the techniques you plan to use on your think sheet by underlining, circling, highlighting, or marking in some other way.

Step 3: Pre-Writing

Now that you have decided on pre-writing techniques, it is time to actually put your ideas on paper to see what you know about your topic. Remember the most important rule of pre-writing-don’t worry about grammar, spelling, correctness, or the difference between good and bad ideas. For example for writing the description of an object pre-writing points would be:

  • name of the object,
  • its outward appearance,
  • particular features along with other features of its functioning
  • list down the key parts of the object.

For writing description of a person the pre writing points would be:

  • Physical features-looks, height, shape of body and color of hair, approximate age, etc.
  • Dress, speech, posture, mannerism, any eccentric habit, etc.
  • Life history (if you know it), interests, family background, etc.
  • His/her position, status, interests, hobbies, reputation, etc.
  • How he/she impresses other people, and their opinion about this person.

For writing description of a place the pre-writing points would be:

1. By way of introduction you should first have a general description of the scene like a busy mall, a crowded railway station, a landscape, etc. You need to add details, such as sounds, smells, shapes, colors, and their effect on you. Remember, your impression of a place may differ with another’s description. Try to be original. Express your feelings/reactions on seeing some thing/ place.

Description tells what something looks, sounds, smells, tastes or feels like. Good descriptive writing comprises of five details:

Sensory details

1. Figurative language – for example her smile was like sunshine.

2. Dominant expression – this includes focus on selecting details that help the readers see what you see, feel what you feel and experience what you experience. The goal should be to create a central theme to which all details relate.

3. Precise language – using specific words and phrases will help the reader see what you are describing.

4. Careful organization – ways to organize are spatial in order—uses location such as top to bottom, front to back or left to right ( best for describing a place) order of importance – puts most important details at beginning or end ( best for describing objects or people) chronological order – arranges details in time order (best for describing events)

Sample Essays

1. The Terracotta Army

Chinese civilization has produced an uncountable number of artifacts that are valued the world over and considered to be humanity’s cultural heritage. For example, one needs to look no further than the notorious ceramics of the Ming dynasty, historic paintings on silk, lacquered boxes, and many other pieces of pictorial and sculptural art. But probably one of the most well-known artifacts is the so-called Terracotta Army – a sculptural ensemble of about 10,000 statues.

The collection depicts the army of the first Emperor of China known as Qin Shi Fluang. The statues were found in early 1970’s in a dark cavern in Xian, located in Shangxi province (Capek, 2008). Radiocarbon dating ascertains that the sculptures date back to the third century.

The idea of recreating a whole army is incredible in the sense that no one remotely had thought of such an idea before. At first, the finding was kept in secret from the rest of the world, but it quickly turned out that archaeologists had run into a discovery that they claimed to be the most significant one in the history of sculpture (Man, 2008). This caused fascination all over the world, since it was the only exact copy of a life-sized army created by humanity.

The name of the sculptor who created the ensemble is unknown, but he or she must have been a person of immense artistic power and creativity. Most of all the sculptures are incredibly realistic, depicting the soldiers in extremely detailed form. Little can be said about the background of the sculptor as well, since almost nothing is known about his or her personality. Scientists guess that he or she must have been an individual with a military background, and who could understand the Emperor’s wishes perfectly.

The use of terracotta as the main material indicates that the sculptor was a master of their craft; since it is almost impossible for one person to create a masterpiece of such a large scale, it can be assumed that the sculptor passed on their skills and knowledge to other people who had also been working on the statues. In other words, there was no single craftsman working on the Terracotta Army, and the sculptor was actually a mass of ordinary people. The supposed collective of sculptors produced an incredible masterpiece which has endured for almost two thousand years.

During archaeological excavations, three large pits were found; they contained over 8000 real-size soldier figures, 130 chariots, 520 horses and a further 150 cavalry horses (Capek, 2008). The vast majority of these statues are still buried close to the Emperor’s mausoleum. A large number of tools and implements were found as well (Man, 2008). The Terracotta Army represents funerary art at its best, as a way of linking the world of the dead with the world of the living; it was known that the Emperor wished to take his army with him after his death.

The Terracotta Army is a unique artefact both by scale and its astonishing accuracy of lifelike replicas. The terracotta figures have been displayed in several different locations, but the most famous one was a recent exhibition at the British Museum in London. It was one of the most exciting demonstrations of Chinese antiquity to Western people.

2. My Favourite Restaurant: River Front

As a child, I was not fond of eating out. My family would eat at a restaurant at least once a week. River Front was the place which soon became my favorite restaurant. I loved the place and this made my parents love it too. The restaurant seemed magical and fascinating to me as a kid, and surprisingly, the place still fascinates me today.

River Front is a small and cozy place, and this is what probably garnered my love of the restaurant initially. This, and the people who worked, and still work there. Unlike more spacious restaurants, this is a family-owned business run by a middle-aged couple. When I think about them now, I still remember their warm smiles and sincere care for each customer and employee. Mrs. Jan, as I would call her, loved orange shades, both in her outfits and in the restaurant’s interior decor.

Warm orange and yellow-pomegranate furniture, sunny-coloured napkins and curtains, country-style hard wooden tables and stools at the bar – everything was solid and comfortable about the place. Mrs. Jan would always have orange in her outfit – to match the place, as I then thought. Be it a bright orange ribbon in her hair, or a peach neat cotton dress, or red nail polish – this woman always belonged to the place like nobody else, and I doubt it was only the external resemblance.

Her husband, Mr. D. was older, with graying hair and a miniature mustache, which made him look a bit strict to me at the time. But the moment he started talking with his deep, soft and half-laughing voice, with that particular tender frog-in-the-throat vibe, he would make me listen to his every word with an open mouth. The man was like a magician to me: mysterious and a bit scary even, yet so fascinating and magnetic.

When I visited River Front yesterday, after all these years, the memories flashed back through my mind in a heartbeat, and I suddenly felt like a child again. The place was still an illuminating planet of orange and light, yet comfortably relaxing and pulsating with fresh energy. I instantly felt like I was home, and a big bouquet of freshly cut wild daisies, neatly tied with an orange ribbon made me think of Mrs. Jan. The food tasted the same – crispy and puffy home-made corn bread was my favorite part of the meal then, and it tasted like it did in my childhood to me now. I spent the evening with Mrs. Jan and Mr. Derek, remembering the good old times.

Suggested Outlines of Descriptive Essays

Describe a summer day

  • Hot blazing sun
  • Land parched and cracked
  • People, animals craving for rain
  • Everyone remains indoors between 10 am-5 pm,
  • Markets less crowded
  • Roads deserted
  • Drinking water becomes rare
  • Power cuts for long durations

Give a pen portrait of the Principal of your school

  • Name of the Principal
  • His looks and sense of dressing
  • His qualities as an administrator
  • His knowledge and involvement with students
  • His aim for the school

You are to organize a farewell party for your class teacher. Describe in detail what arrangements you would make to make the party a success.

  • Name of retiring teacher and the subject she taught.
  • Ask your friends to prepare small speeches or poems praising the teacher and to narrate some interesting anecdotes.
  • Buy a small memento as a thank you token to be given to her.
  • Arrange for some snacks and tea.
  • Some students who are good in drawing can make some small paintings for her.
  • Ask the teacher to say few words about her experience in school.
  • Organize a photographer to take group photographs.

The Funniest thing I have ever seen or heard

  • What is the funniest thing that you’ve ever seen or heard?
  • Maybe it was a joke that a friend told you, a comedy routine, or a scene in a movie.
  • Describe this amusing event.
  • Tell why you thought it was funny.

A Person You Admire

  • Who do you admire the most?
  • Why do you respect this person so much?
  • What have they done to deserve your respect?
  • What have you learnt from the person?


  1. Your favorite political leader
  2. A visit to a big school for getting your younger brother/sister admitted.
  3. Describe a scene at the airport. There was a sudden alarm bell and passengers were asked to vacate. There was a rumor of a bomb.
  4. You have returned to your city after spending five years in a foreign country. The city has changed during your absence. Describe the changes that have affected the lives of the people in the city.
  5. Write an account of an interview you had with a famous cricketer.
  6. The most embarrassing moment in your life
  7. Your favorite hill station
  8. Your favorite food
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