The Descriptive Essay - A Short "How To"

When an instructor assigns descriptive writing to students, s/he may or may not provide a topic. Whichever is the case, students are expected to write a piece that describes an event, an experience, perhaps a person, or a scene. The point of the narrative essay is to demonstrate one's ability to appeal to the senses of the reader. To this point, one should not merely describe something in standard, dull terms. The descriptive essay requires creative thought and figurative language, and, as such, is usually assigned in English class. The "right brain" leaning student usually has no difficulty with this essay type, for analogies, and sensory language seem to come easily. The "left brain" leaning person, however, probably finds this the most difficult of all types of essays. S/he is used to just reporting facts, explain things, pressing an opinion, or comparing and contrasting. Using flowery, figurative language that may appeal to a reader's sight, hearing, smell, taste, etc., often seems to be a waste of time to a student who simply wants to deal with logic and facts.

The descriptive narrative essay is quite common. This type of assignment will ask a student to tell a story of an experience or an event and to craft it in such a way that the reader can actually "be" there. Again, figurative language is a must - similes, metaphors, personification and alliteration and such. The reader must be able to see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, and/or hear it - all in compelling and engaging ways. It is the writer's responsibility to create such a vivid picture that the reader will be enthralled and completely engaged in what s/he is reading!

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