Pick a topic. Descriptive essays generally focus on a person, a place, an event, or a thing. Writers convey an idea about their topic by describing the topic for the reader in a ‘show, not tell’ manner. Showing and not telling means that you paint a picture for your reader. For example, instead of saying, “There were trees near the lake” you could say, “The lake stared through the trees, a wide grey eye trapped in a perpetual state of weeping.”
Create a thesis statement. A thesis statement is the idea that governs the whole essay. It states the purpose of the paper and governs all of the information that is in the paper. An example of a descriptive thesis statement is: My backyard is like a jungle. This thesis statement does not mean that your backyard is literally a jungle, but that the different aspects of your backyard make it seem like a jungle.
Draw five columns on a piece of paper with each column labeled one of the five senses. These include taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. This list will help you keep your thoughts straight when describing your essay. Using your five senses, write down sensations and feelings you associate with your topic.
Review your list and choose the most dominant details to write about. These details should be the items that best support your thesis and are the most interesting. These details will be made into your body paragraphs.
Create an outline that lists what each paragraph of your essay is going to discuss. Typically, middle and high schoolers writing descriptive essays will be asked to write a 5 paragraph essay.College level students and above have more free-reign regarding how long to make their essays. 5 paragraph essays are structured to include an introductory paragraph that includes a thesis statement, three body paragraphs proving your thesis statement, and a concluding paragraph that summarizes what you have said in the rest of your essay.