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Writing a Descriptive Essay About a Person or Place

As a professional in the education industry for over 10 years, I believe knowledge should be made available to all willing students.


You may be requested to write a description essay about a person or a place, either for work or as an assignment question at school. A descriptive essay is essentially a short piece intended to describe your topic at hand; through the engagement of all the senses that your reader has at their disposal. This article looks to assist you in targeting your readers sense, whether it be sight, touch, smell, sound and taste.

You will be required, as the author, to convey the physical and emotional attributes of the person or the place you are describing. To grab your reader’s attention for your essay, your descriptions have to be interesting; but don’t forget about the structure of the essay itself as it is still crucial to ensure that it has a captivating introduction, meaty body and a conclusion as the finalise.

Below are tips to ensure your essay gets the attention of your ready and remains engaging throughout the essay in addition to things to watch out for while crafting your essay.

Descriptive Essay About A Person

People often find that writing a descriptive essay about a person to be the most difficult. You may be asked to describe some of the following:

  • A family member or extended relative,
  • A close friend or colleague that you lose contact with,
  • A celebrity or sports player that you admire

This writing style can focus on describing the character physically, but also the person’s personality in addition to possibly even the person’s current emotion. As it is the easiest to describe the size, colour or shape of a physical object, it may be common for authors to begin with describing the person’s physical attributes in order to form an initial image in the reader’s mind. However, it becomes much more difficult when the author attempts to convey the character’s personality or emotions currently being felt in great detail.

One way to describe the person’s personality traits is to show through actions rather than directly telling your reader what your character’s personality is. When demonstrating this through your descriptions, such as detailing the person’s mood, behaviour or charm; you are able to leverage off your reader’s imagination. For example, there are large variances in the quality of your descriptive essay based on the following two sentences even though they are describing similar things:

  • The man has a short temper and was easily angered
  • The tall man, frowned his wrinkled skin weathered after years of toiling in the sun. A simple comment was all that it took to abrupt the man, who then stormed off in short strides.

Descriptive Essay About A Place

A descriptive essay about a place is often easier to write as the author is able to rely on his or her memory, or a memory of a similar place which can be used. This may be your memory if your school, or a recent local festival. Unfortunately, as a result of this, descriptions of places would naturally gravitate towards the physical senses such as sight.

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Remember, there is more than just our sense of sight. A method to ensure your essay stands out from ones written by others is to move away from simply describing the physical attributes of the place, and instead begin to describe the emotional attributes to convey to the reader how the place made you feel. For example, you can describe the whistle of the wind as it brushes past the mountain walls, or the refreshing salty breeze while you stood on the scorching beach sand.

Furthermore, you can ensure that your essay stands out by altering the essay focus at hand. Although you may be assigned to write a description of a place, you should not be limited to a physical location.

As the author, you can look to describe abstract locations such as a place in time where instead, you could incorporate descriptions about an event in your life which would further assist in your ability to leverage off your reader’s emotions and imagination as there is a higher likelihood that your reader will be able to relate to a similar place in time in their own personal lives


Tips On Structuring

Choosing the write topic and ways to approach your essay is crucial. We have discussed above methods to differentiate your descriptive essay, whether it is about a person or a place, in order for it to stand out from all the other essays that your classmates or colleagues may be writing.

However, let us not forget about how crucial the fundamental structuring and logistics of your essay can also be. These are laid out as below:

First and foremost, you should look to arrange the order of your paragraphs in order to set the background or intention of your essay. This is essentially your introduction, as it will set the tone for the remainder of your descriptive essay.

Once you have completed the encompassing body of your essay, ensure that a strong conclusion is implemented in order to summarise your work. You would have put forth a lot of hard work getting to this stage, and you would want to ensure that the finale is also at the same quality as this would be the final paragraph and the last impression which your reader has of your essay.

Finally, last but not least, follow with a thorough check of the spelling and grammar of your essay, and consider if any further changes or rearrangements of your essay body may be required.

© 2018 Alex Hills

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