A descriptive essay mirrors the mood of the writer and conjures images that breathe. It is often regarded as the most structured form of writing as it is associated with the ability to transfer emotions to the reader through the use of words.
A good essay arouses the reader’s senses and impacts on his mind- evoking the correct response.
The writer succeeds if he is able to capture the reader’s attention and retain it till the end. Although one can describe anything under the sun and palm it off as a descriptive essay, the description must relate to something of consequence, in the sense that it must be purposeful.
Anything insignificant would merely amount to a mundane exercise of writing for the sake of putting something down on paper. Writing must always be directed towards the reader and hence the writer must have a good reason for describing something or someone. An introduction or a backdrop provides the correct setting for the rest of the essay. A good descriptive essay should lure the reader and entice him to read without stopping. While details are important, the way they are presented is going to decide whether the readers opt in or out.
Visual skills, words relating to sound, smell and taste predominantly used tend to make the essay real.
Words relating to touch and inner emotions be it disgust or admiration, love or hatred convey to the reader the intensity and range of feeling. A wider spectrum encompassing all the senses has a tremendous impact. Nonchalant use of nouns in a general way waters down the feelings conveyed. Specificity is the order of the day. Active verbs help the reader to visualize the nature of emotions rather than indicating the characters or scenes in an inanimate and passive manner. Vivid use of words and verbs are effective.
The tone of the essay should be gradually built so that there is one strong dominant emotion. If the purpose of the essay is to cause concern or arouse fear, then the trend must be set in the introduction itself. It prepares the reader for stronger and worse emotions to follow. Sometimes it helps to list all the words associated with a particular emotion and then try to use as many as you can without being redundant. Just as the introduction coaxes the reader into entering a particular world, so too must the body of the essay ensure that he does not beat a hasty retreat. In the conclusion, the reader must be drawn within the purview of emotions making him an integral part.
The descriptive essay can either be objective or subjective by nature. What is going to determine the outcome is the kind of emotion that needs to be evoked. An objective essay is precise and clinical in approach while a subjective essay has a personal touch. Whether it is one or the other, the body of the essay needs to be correctly segmented. While giving details, set the different aspects off in different paragraphs depending on its content. This way the essay reads well, has coherence and is meaningful. Care must be taken to have some sort of logical pattern with important details preceding minor ones, or broader details preceding specific ones. There are many ways to deal with the presentation, so choose the one that is most effective.
Descriptive writing is as easy as it is difficult. Easy because a strong vocabulary is the key to good description and difficult because lack of passion and a disability to use words in proper context can render a good essay pathetically ineffective. So gear yourself up and be prepared to use those gray cells optimally.