Ms. Payne Integrated Fine Arts Study The Descriptive Essay

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Ms. Payne

Integrated Fine Arts Study
The Descriptive Essay

When you describe something, you give your readers a picture in words. You need to observe specific details that may appeal to your readers.  A descriptive paper needs sharp and colorful details.

When you are describing the way something looks, physical appearance and space -not time - is what you should focus on. Therefore, you should arrange your sentences and details according to where the objects being described are located.  This type of organization is referred to as spatial organization.  In a descriptive paragraph or essay, you must make very clear the location of the objects you are describing. Also note that the arrangement of the details in a descriptive paper depends on the subject and the purpose.

Writing Descriptions 


Students often ask, "But how do I write a purely descriptive essay? What's the point of description? What's so different about it?" There are three characteristics of a purely descriptive essay which are worthy of remembering.

  • a descriptive essay has one, clear dominant impression. If, for example you are describing a snowfall, it is important for you to decide and to let your reader know if it is threatening or lovely; in order to have one dominant impression it cannot be both. The dominant impression guides the author's selection of detail and is thereby made clear to the reader in the thesis sentence.

  • a descriptive essay can be objective or subjective, giving the author a wide choice of tone, diction and attitude. For instance, an objective description of one's dog would mention such facts as height, weight, coloring and so forth. A subjective description would include the above details, but would also stress the author's feeling toward the dog, as well as its personality and habits.

  • the purpose of a purely descriptive essay is to involve the reader enough to help him to actually visualize the things being described. A description essay deals with the distinctiveness of the object or scene.


  • The descriptive essay relies on concrete, sensory detail to communicate its point. Remember, we have five senses, not one or two.

  • The author of a descriptive essay must carefully select his details to support the dominant impression. 

  • Description very often relies on emotion to convey its point. Because of this, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives convey more to the reader than do nouns.

  • Unless the description is objective, you must be sure that the dominant impression conveys an attitude.


  • Try giving all the details first; the dominant impression then is built from these details.

  • You might even want to write down the five senses on a scratch piece of paper and check to see that you have covered them all.

  • Select an emotion and try to describe it. It might be more difficult to get started, but it can be worthwhile.


Halloween is right around the corner; write a descriptive essay about a time that you experienced “fear”. Focus on expressing BOTH objective and subjective details to give a clear picture of your experience to your reader. They essay must be at least 100 words.
Need some ideas? First time in a haunted house or first time at Freight Fest, describe facts about what was there (objective) and include how it made you feel or how you perceived it (subjective).

Due Date: Monday November 2nd, 2009

Online submission is accepted.

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