Descriptive Essay Prompts and Writing Tips

posted by Laura Callisen 17 Aug 2015
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Descriptive Essay Prompts 

What is the purpose of a descriptive essay? If you have been given a descriptive essay assignment, your job is to write an essay that evokes clear and interesting images in the minds of your readers. The purpose of this posting is to provide descriptive essay tips, descriptive essay prompts, and other helpful advice on writing descriptive essays. Hopefully, after reading here, even most inexperienced writer will be able to crank out a serviceable essay without too much trouble. Let’s get started!

Selecting Your Essay Topic

Clearly, the first thing you will need to do is select a topic. Your choices may be limited by your instructor. For example, you may restricted to describing something from a book you’ve read in class, or your teacher may have simply given you a subject to describe. If this is the case, just go with what you have, and continue reading after this section. If you are able to select your own topic however, keep reading this section, you’ll find some great ideas.

As you search for descriptive essay ideas, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, try to choose a subject that has some emotional relevance to you. You’ll find it much easier to describe that subject with a bit of passion. Next, consider your audience. What do you think your instructor and classmates would find compelling? Finally, choose a subject that is striking in some way. This could be visually, emotionally, or otherwise. Here are a few topics that nearly always work out well in descriptive essays.

  • Describe your childhood bedroom
  • Write a vivid description of your first bicycle
  • Describe your favorite super hero
  • Describe your worst enemy
  • Describe the best meal you have ever eaten
  • Describe your kitchen
  • Write an essay describing your hands
  • Write an essay describing your face
  • Describe eating an apple
  • Describe swimming in the ocean
  • Write an essay describing the scariest thing you have ever experienced

Descriptive Essays Need Descriptive Words

This means two things. First, use lots of adjectives, and vary them. For example, don’t write cold when frigid, numbing, bone-chilling, or shiver-inducing paint a much more vibrant image. Next, use words and phrases that promote sensory recall. The more senses that you include in your writing the better. As you are describing your subject ask yourself:

  • What did I see?
  • What did I hear?
  • What did I taste?
  • What did I smell?
  • What did I feel?

Then, capture this information within your essay. You may not be able to touch on every sensory element in every descriptive essay. If we were discussing how to write great a descriptive essay about a person, for example, it might not be possible to include the element of taste. Try aiming for at least three of the five senses if at all possible.

Let Your Readers Know why You Selected Your Topic

In your introductory paragraph, let your readers know why you selected the topic that you did. They won’t be interested in your subject until they understand why it interests you. If you are writing about a person, describe why this person is important to you. Did they change your life? Did they influence you or teach you an important lesson? If you are describing an event, what is it about that event that you wish to share with others? Why did you select this event over many other exciting life events that you’ve undoubtedly experienced?

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Put some Thought into Paragraph Sequence

The meat of a descriptive essay is in the body paragraphs. Sequence is very important. If you are describing an event or an experience, you probably want to write in chronological order. If you are describing an object, you may wish to describe it as someone would experience seeing it for the first time. This could mean describing larger details first, and then continuing with smaller details. If you are describing a person, you could start with physical attributes and then move on to personality characteristics.

Laura Callisen

Blog writer for GrabMyEssay


Hello there! I am Laura Callisen, and I fancy myself to be a modern “Renaissance person.” I suppose my 30-something self began my incredible journey after having been born in Stavanger, Norway and then immigrating to the U.S. (Utah, actually) at the age of 5. I am certain that this change was more of a cultural “shock” for my parents than for me, because I quickly mastered the language and was clever enough to “play the game” of public education in America. After graduating from Skyline High School, where I spent two years as the school newspaper editor, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from the University of Utah was a natural culmination of my love for writing.

My inclination to be socially conscious led me to lots of community outreach and volunteering during my college years, especially in the areas of educational and housing improvement for the poor and a number of environmental crusades. My passion for philosophy and travel have now taken over, and I am enthralled with the widely varied value systems of all cultures in which I can immerse myself, if only temporarily. My life as a freelance writer allows a freedom I never want to sacrifice for a stuffy office!

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