Characteristics of a Descriptive Essay
A descriptive essay provides a good platform for a writer to express his or her feelings on a subject. As the name suggests, the essay is a description of an object, person, location, or experience. The essay generally includes an introduction, body and conclusion centered on a chosen theme. The writing style is expressive and may include descriptions, opinions, comparisons, personal perceptions and sensory perceptions. The main objective of a descriptive essay is to relate the unique qualities of the person, object, etc. vividly and comprehensively.
1 Capture Readers' Interest
A descriptive essay should make for interesting reading. To make the essay appealing, the writer needs to consider audience preferences, and use words and descriptions that pique readers' interest. For example, a descriptive essay about a car, written for potential customers, would describe technical and design specifications but would place greater emphasis on aspects that are more likely to concern or interest customers, such as gas mileage, speed, comfort, special features like a sun roof or add-on features like LCD screens.
Descriptive essays are based more on "show" than "tell" -- giving readers a visual idea of the subject. For example, a "tell" sentence would be, "The sun disappeared into the water." The same sentence in "show" mode might read, "The setting sun disappeared in a blaze of red and gold glory, swallowed up, it would seem, by the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean." Through vivid depictions, the writer conveys to readers individual impressions based on emotions or perceptions.
3 Sensory Experience
Descriptive essays make use of the five senses. The writer effectively conveys personal perceptions on the subject through the use of sensory details and figurative details. Sensory details are those that appeal to the five senses while figurative details involve the use of similes and metaphors to describe the subject. The use of sensory details makes the essay more vibrant and appealing to the readers' imagination. For example, graphic descriptions of odors -- pleasant or unpleasant -- allows readers to "experience" smells.
4 Objective vs. Subjective Viewpoint
A descriptive essay can be either objective (concrete, factual) or subjective (personal). The type of essay that a writer creates will be determined by the kind of emotion that the writer wants to elicit from readers. Presenting a purely objective can be difficult. Conversely, a writer can reduce subjectivity in an essay by including more objective factors, like size, color, shape and distance, exhausting them before injecting personal opinions or feelings.