How to write a descriptive essay is made simple by following the advice below. This post is from the book ‘Writing with Stardust’, now available on Amazon. Just click on any of the book images below for further information. It will take you into the Amazon bookstore.
HOW TO WRITE A DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
I am asked regularly by my students how to plan an essay.
The answer to that is that it takes time and practise. Da Vinci, for example, didn’t start his career by painting the roofs of chapels and masterpieces. He had to serve his apprenticeship and perfect his craft. The real question is how do you start to plan an essay? This book attempts to provide an answer.
Planning any level of an English assignment should involve some thought. That is why some writers like to be labelled as ‘wordsmiths’. It infers that the thought processes are a metaphorical lump of metal. How does that lump of metal become a silver pen? It needs to be heated (collecting images), smelted (forming sentences), cooled down (sequencing ideas) and forged into the shape of a pen (paragraph structure).
That doesn’t mean the process is finished. The pen may not work, even though it looks like the finished product. It may need to be re-heated and re-forged (a redraft). Finally, both the pen and the essay are ready.
‘Writing with Stardust’ provides a unique way to get the process started, to fire up the forge, so to speak. The best approach is to pick a chapter and take one word from each of the ten Level 1 grids. Then get the student to rearrange them in sequence. Once this is done, they may then put them into sentences. This is what it would look like for the MIST chapter.
MIST RAIN FLOODS
|ghost-grey mist||shreds of mist||encircled||spraying rain||plump drops|
|voiceless and heartless||crept over the ground||smoky and steamy mist||airy rain||tea-brown, boiling river|
They should then form five sentences using these words.
- The ghost-grey mist was voiceless and heartless.
- Shreds of mist crept over the ground.
- The smoky and steamy mist encircled the mountain.
- The airy, spraying rain banished the mist.
- Plump drops of rain fell then and the river became tea-brown and boiling.
This is the start of the process. If they are not capable of this, they should be encouraged to practise it until it becomes second nature to them. They will not be able to sequence paragraphs if they cannot sequence sentences so there is little point in moving ahead.
If they are capable of sequencing sentences, they are ready to move on to the next stage. You could then ask them to introduce a character from the FEMALES chapter. They should only use Level 1 again until they are comfortable with this process. The grid should look something like this;
|an hour glass figure||a bumblebee waist||silky eyelashes||shining, halo-white teeth||dreamy, bliss-blue eyes|
|elf thin||glowing skin||a pointy nose||sunrise-gold hair||puffy lips|
They can then repeat the process by putting the words into five sentences.
- She was elf thin with an hour glass figure.
- She had a bumblebee waist with glowing skin.
- Her silky eyelashes fluttered above a pointy nose.
- Her shining, halo-white teeth gleamed as much as her sunrise-gold hair.
- Her dreamy, bliss-blue eyes were as attractive as her puffy lips.
The materials are now there for the introduction to an essay. In this case, it may be the day the narrator fell in love with someone for the first time. By fusing both character description and the natural surroundings, it should provide a narrative that entertains the reader and keeps the plot flowing.
SAMPLE INTRODUCTION TO AN ESSAY
The day I fell in love was also the day I died. The weather forecast was for a bright day with mild weather. The girl’s name was Rebecca and I had arranged to meet her by a bench near the riverbank. She was elf thin with an hour glass figure and I was attracted to her. Her bumblebee waist and glowing skin appealed to me also. I had never even talked to her and it was her friends who had set up the blind date. Although I thought that it might be a practical joke, I decided to meet her anyway.
As always, the forecasters were wrong. The sky was clay-grey and I could see mist in the distance. It was voiceless and heartless as shreds of it moved over the ground. Rising up, the smoky and steamy mist encircled the mountains. Just then I heard a shout. It was Rebecca.
My heart leaped as I saw her sunrise-gold hair flash in the pale light. Her shining, halo-white teeth gleamed as she broke into a smile. She was walking towards me along the slippery river bank. An airy, spraying rain started to fall, but I barely noticed. As she came closer, I nearly melted into her dreamy, bliss-blue eyes. The sight of her puffy lips parting into a bigger smile felt like an electric current was running through my heart.
Then disaster struck.
With a cry of surprise, she suddenly disappeared from my view! She shouted again but this time it was one of distress. Running towards her, I could see her head bobbing up and down as the fast current swept her away. The river was tea-brown and boiling with anger. Plump drops of rain started to fall as if to add to its rage. I didn’t even think of the danger. I plunged into the foaming river. It was icy, dark and tasted like mud when I hit the bottom and took in a mouthful of water. Gasping and choking, I rose to the surface and swung my arms as much as I could. In between waves of water blocking my view, I could see Rebecca just in front of me. I thrashed my arms even harder.
Just as I was about to reach her, she hit a tree branch that was sticking out from the bank. I swept past her with a howl of shock. The river became wider, faster and deeper as I rounded a bend. I felt like a skittle as I was tossed up and down. At one point, my feet were facing up to the sky. I died inside then. I knew my time was up. I saw a bright light and faded away when my head hit a branch under the water. The doctors told me later that if Rebecca hadn’t let go of the tree to save me, I would have died. They said she was very brave. They never said that about me but they gave me many strange looks. When it got around the school that I had been saved by a girl I had jumped in to rescue, I had to put up with years of bad jokes.
I never talked to Rebecca after that day. She was removed from the school by her parents. I have never had a nightmare about my experience, but I dream every night of once more meeting the girl with the sunrise-gold hair.
The story above had some very clear objectives from the start. The objectives were that:
- It had a dramatic hook sentence.
- It had a clear paragraph structure.
- It used a character description with a theme of love.
- It had pathetic fallacy by using nature to reflect a characters mood.
- It gave the tastes and sensations of the cold river.
- It used human emotions of fear and stress.
- It had a plot with a twist.
- The diction would be easy to use and make the story flow.
By keeping the objectives simple, a student is ready to plan a full essay using paragraphs. Happy hunting with your writing!