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Descriptive Essay - How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Before writing a descriptive essay, most writers find that they save time and effort if they do some preliminary thinking about their audience, topic, thesis, and organizational plan.

Read Gary Soto’s essay  Construct an outline of his essay. Write a brief explanation of how the structure of the essay reinforces its content.

1 Gonzalez Elisa - Descriptive Essay - My Favorite Pizza

Chronological pattern. A chronology gives details in the order in which they occurred in time. This pattern is probably most useful when describing an event. Note that essays organized in chronological order are not necessarily narratives. A narrative is characterized by conflict and by the cause-effect relationship of the events of the rising action: one event causes the next to happen until the climactic moment. Descriptive essays do not have these characteristics.

provides lists intended to spark ideas for your descriptive essay. To test the potential of a topic for your essay, follow these instructions:

Styron’s description takes readers into the fray with visceral images and metaphorical language, addressing the nature of the thing being described and advancing an idea about the subject. Readers of Styron’s description might begin to wonder whether they would have the courage to protest a war in the face of an armed police force.

Descriptive essays may employ any of several organizational patterns. The following are a few of the more common ones: , , and .


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Readers of descriptive essays want to learn something new or startling or useful. You may be describing a place you have visited or a person you know, and your language may be vivid, but if readers can relate your observations to a place or person in their own lives, it is likelier they will be influenced by your essay. Your readers want to gain a fresh perspective on their own worlds.