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Let’s assume that I have never been to FMC in Asaba, and you are my friend in Warri, all I need urgently is for you to give me a clear direction of how am going to get there and you are required to put in writing. You are expected to give me a clear description of the roads that leads to Asaba as well as the location of FMC, the size of the compound, the paint color and any other factor that can aide me locate there without asking for further guide during my travel.

I know what you may be thinking now, you probably have an idea what to write, things like the distance, the bus stops, the cost of my journey etc. putting all these piece together is what a descriptive writing is all about.

Descriptive writing is more than just describing a place, we can use it to describe just about anything like people or a person, an item, an animal, we can as well describe our feelings. The most important factor in descriptive essay is “using words to paint pictures”.

More than many other types of writings, descriptive essays endeavor to create a intensely involved and vivid experience for the reader. Great descriptive essays achieve this affect not through facts and statistics but by using detailed observations and descriptions.

What do you want to describe?

As you get started on your descriptive essay, it’s important for you to identify exactly what you want to describe. Often, a descriptive essay will focus on portraying one of the following:

  • a person
  • a place
  • a memory
  • an experience
  • an object

Finally, whatever you can observe or experience can be the focus of your descriptive writing.

Why are you writing your descriptive essay?

It’s a great creative exercise to sit down and simply describe what you observe. Nonetheless, when writing a descriptive essay, you often have a specific reason for writing your description. Getting in touch with this motive can help you focus your description and instill your language with a particular perspective or feeling.

Illustration: Imagine that you want to write a descriptive essay about your mother. You’ve chosen to write about your mother physical appearance and the way that she interacts with people. However, rather than providing a general description of these aspects, you want to convey your admiration for her strength and kindness. This is your goal for writing the descriptive essay. To attain this, you might focus one of your paragraphs on describing the coarseness of her hands, coarseness resulting from the labor of her work throughout her life, but you might also describe how she would hold your hands so gently with her rough hands when having a conversation with you or when taking a walk.

How should you write your description?

If there’s one thing you should remember as you write your descriptive essay, it’s the famous saying: show don’t tell. But what’s the difference between showing and telling?

Consider these two simple examples:

I grew tired after dinner.

As I leaned back and rested my head against the top of the chair, my eyelids began to feel heavy, and the edges of the empty plate in front of me blurred with the white tablecloth.

The first sentence tells readers that you grew tired after dinner. The second sentence shows readers that you grew tired. The most effective descriptive essays are loaded with such showing because they enable readers to imagine or experience something for themselves.

Great descriptive essay play around the five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste to effectively “show” the readers what the experience feels like.

When you focus your descriptions on the senses, you provide vivid and specific facts that show your readers rather than tell your readers what you are describing.

The following should guide your descriptive essay:

Writing a descriptive essay can be a rich and rewarding experience, but it can also feel a bit complicated. It’s helpful, therefore, to keep a quick specification of the essential questions to keep in mind as you plan, draft, and revise your essay.

Planning your descriptive essay:

Who or what do you want to describe?

What is your reason for writing your description?

What are the particular qualities that you want to focus on?

Drafting your descriptive essay:

What sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures are important for developing your description?

Which details can you include to ensure that your readers gain a vivid impression imbued with your emotion or perspective?

Revising your descriptive essay:

Have you provided enough details and descriptions to enable your readers to gain a complete and vivid perception?

Have you left out any minor but important details?

Have you used words that convey your emotion or perspective?

Are there any unnecessary details in your description?

Does each paragraph of your essay focus on one aspect of your description?

Are you paragraphs ordered in the most effective way?

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