Descriptive Essay Tips: Using Sensory & Feeling Words
1. define your focus, choose a specific topic, identify your audience, create a thesis statement, 2. build your vocabulary, use thesaurus, read broadly, practice writing, 3. apply sensory words, describe sight, describe sound, describe touch, 4. utilize feeling words, express emotions, capture the mood, convey atmosphere, 5. create vivid imagery, use metaphors, apply similes, incorporate symbolism, 6. revise and edit, review your work, check for clarity, polish your essay.
Delving into the world of descriptive essays, one question that often comes up is "which type of essay relies on sensory and feeling words?" Well, you've guessed right—the descriptive essay. It's like painting a picture with words, where each stroke is a sensory or feeling word. This blog post will guide you through the process of enhancing your descriptive essays with sensory and feeling words, along with other essential elements, which will help you create a masterpiece every time.
Before you begin writing your descriptive essay, it's important to have a clear focus. This involves choosing a specific topic, identifying your audience, and creating a compelling thesis statement.
Choosing a topic for your descriptive essay can be exciting, yet daunting. It's like being at a buffet where you can pick anything, but you need to choose wisely. The key is to pick a subject that you can describe vividly—something that piques your interest and evokes strong senses or emotions. It could be a person, a place, an object, or an experience. For instance, writing about the Grand Canyon can provide ample opportunities to use sensory and feeling words.
Knowing your audience is like having a GPS for your essay—it helps you navigate the content. Are you writing for your peers, your teacher, or the public? Understanding your audience will help you determine the level of detail and the type of language to use. For example, if you're writing for your classmates in middle school, you might want to avoid complex words and keep the descriptions simple and relatable.
Last but not least, you need a solid thesis statement—a compass to guide your essay. Your thesis statement should give a hint about what your essay is about and how you are going to describe it. For instance, if you're writing about a summer day at the beach, your thesis statement could be: "A summer day at the beach is like a symphony where the elements of nature come together to create a sensory extravaganza."
Writing a descriptive essay is like painting with words, and your vocabulary is your color palette. The more words you have at your disposal, the richer and more vivid your description will be. So, how can you expand your vocabulary? Here are some ways.
Thesaurus is your best friend when it comes to finding synonyms and antonyms. It's like a treasure chest of words waiting to be discovered. Want to describe how delicious the apple pie tasted? Instead of using the word 'delicious', you can find alternatives like 'scrumptious', 'mouthwatering', or 'delectable'. This not only makes your essay more interesting but also increases its sensory appeal.
Reading is like taking a journey through different worlds and times. Each book, article, or blog post you read is an opportunity to learn new words and phrases. Pay attention to how authors describe characters, settings, and events. Notice the sensory and feeling words they use. From the crisp autumn air in a mystery novel to the palpable tension in a thriller, reading widely will equip you with a wealth of words to use in your essays.
Just as a musician practices scales or a basketball player practices shooting hoops, a writer should practice writing. Regular writing exercises will help you become comfortable with using new words and expressions. Try describing your morning routine, your favorite meal, or a memorable vacation. Remember, practice makes perfect, and in the case of descriptive essays, practice makes vivid!
Now that you've got your vocabulary toolbox ready, it's time to dive into the core of descriptive writing. Which type of essay relies on sensory and feeling words? You guessed it - a descriptive essay. Using sensory words is like adding spices to a dish—it brings out the flavors, making it more appealing and enjoyable. So, let's explore the sensory words associated with sight, sound, and touch.
Sight is perhaps the most utilized sense in descriptive writing. It's about painting a picture with words. When describing a place, don't just say it's 'beautiful'. Is it a serene lakeside with glistening waters reflecting the dazzling sunset? Or is it a bustling cityscape with towering skyscrapers piercing the cerulean sky? The more specific you are with your visuals, the more vivid your essay will be.
Sound adds another layer to your descriptions. It's not just about what the reader can see, but also what they can hear. Was the rain 'pattering' against the window, or was it 'drumming' heavily on the rooftop? Did the wind 'whisper' through the trees, or did it 'howl' in the night? Choosing the right words can make your descriptions come alive.
Touch is a powerful sense that can add depth to your descriptions. Was the blanket 'soft and fluffy' like a cloud, or was the pavement 'rough and gritty' under your feet? By including tactile details, you engage your reader's sense of touch, making your descriptions more immersive and realistic.
Now, let's dive a bit deeper. Sensory words help your reader visualize, hear, and feel the physical aspects of your description. But what about the emotional landscape? That's where feeling words come into play. They evoke emotions and set the mood, further enriching the descriptive essay experience. So, which type of essay relies on sensory and feeling words? Still wondering? Let's solidify your understanding through the power of emotion.
Feeling words are like the soul of your descriptive essay. They bring the emotions of your characters or your own feelings to life. Saying 'I was happy' is fine, but wouldn't it be more impactful to say 'I was overjoyed, elated, my heart brimming with happiness'? The right choice of feeling words can make your reader feel right there with you.
Setting the mood is a powerful storytelling technique. It's about creating an emotional atmosphere that pulls the reader in. Was the abandoned house 'creepy', making your heart pound with 'fear'? Or was the spring morning 'refreshing', filling you with 'calm and serenity'? The mood you set can shape the reader's experience and interpretation of your essay.
Atmosphere goes hand in hand with mood. It's about the overall feeling or vibe of a place or situation. It can be a 'tense' atmosphere in a thriller, a 'romantic' atmosphere in a love story, or a 'melancholic' atmosphere in a tale of loss. Selecting the right feeling words can help you build a compelling atmosphere that resonates with your readers.
Alright, you're almost there. You've got your focus, you've built your vocabulary, learned how to apply sensory and feeling words, but now comes the fun part: creating vivid imagery. This is where your descriptive essay truly comes alive. It's like painting a picture with words. Which type of essay relies on sensory and feeling words? The one that paints a vivid picture in the reader's mind.
Metaphors are a powerful tool for creating vivid imagery. They compare two things without using 'like' or 'as'. For instance, saying 'time is a thief' is more impactful and creates a stronger image than simply saying 'time goes by quickly'. Metaphors allow you to express complex ideas or emotions in a simple, relatable way.
Similes, like metaphors, create strong images. The difference is that similes use 'like' or 'as' for the comparison. Saying 'she ran like the wind' paints a more vivid picture than just saying 'she ran fast'. Similes can help your readers better understand and visualize your descriptions.
Symbolism allows you to convey a deeper meaning through objects, actions, or people. For example, a dove often symbolizes peace. So, if a dove appears in your essay at a critical moment, it could symbolize the arrival of peace. Symbolism can add an extra layer of depth to your essay, making it more engaging and thought-provoking for your readers.
Now, you’ve done the hard work of creating your descriptive essay, but hold on, you're not quite finished yet. Remember, the magic happens in the editing. This is your opportunity to really make your essay shine. So, let's dive into those final steps: Review, Check, and Polish.
First things first, take a break. Yes, you read that right! Step away from your work for a while. This will allow you to come back with a fresh set of eyes and spot things you might have missed. Once you're ready, read through your essay. Does it flow well? Have you painted a clear picture? Have you used enough sensory and feeling words? Remember, a descriptive essay— which is the type of essay that relies on sensory and feeling words— should make your reader feel like they're right there with you.
After a thorough review, it's time to check for clarity. Make sure your sentences are clear and concise. Remove any unnecessary words or phrases. Check if your metaphors, similes, and symbolism are clear and add value to your essay. At the end of this stage, your reader should have no trouble understanding your essay and visualizing your descriptions.
Last but not least, polish your essay. This is where you check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. But don't just rely on spell check, read your essay out loud. This helps catch awkward phrases or sentence structures. And remember, perfection is a myth. The goal is to create an engaging, vivid, and clear descriptive essay.
So, there you have it! You're now ready to write a descriptive essay that not only paints a vivid picture but also engages and captivates your readers. Happy writing!
If you want to dive deeper into using sensory and feeling words in your descriptive essays, don't miss Celina Rodriguez's workshop titled ' How to Use Your Senses for Inspiration .' This workshop will guide you through techniques and exercises that will help you harness the power of your senses to create more vivid and engaging written content.
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- How to write a descriptive essay | Example & tips
How to Write a Descriptive Essay | Example & Tips
Published on July 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 14, 2023.
A descriptive essay gives a vivid, detailed description of something—generally a place or object, but possibly something more abstract like an emotion. This type of essay , like the narrative essay , is more creative than most academic writing .
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Descriptive essay topics, tips for writing descriptively, descriptive essay example, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about descriptive essays.
When you are assigned a descriptive essay, you’ll normally be given a specific prompt or choice of prompts. They will often ask you to describe something from your own experience.
- Describe a place you love to spend time in.
- Describe an object that has sentimental value for you.
You might also be asked to describe something outside your own experience, in which case you’ll have to use your imagination.
- Describe the experience of a soldier in the trenches of World War I.
- Describe what it might be like to live on another planet.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to describe something more abstract, like an emotion.
If you’re not given a specific prompt, try to think of something you feel confident describing in detail. Think of objects and places you know well, that provoke specific feelings or sensations, and that you can describe in an interesting way.
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The key to writing an effective descriptive essay is to find ways of bringing your subject to life for the reader. You’re not limited to providing a literal description as you would be in more formal essay types.
Make use of figurative language, sensory details, and strong word choices to create a memorable description.
Use figurative language
Figurative language consists of devices like metaphor and simile that use words in non-literal ways to create a memorable effect. This is essential in a descriptive essay; it’s what gives your writing its creative edge and makes your description unique.
Take the following description of a park.
This tells us something about the place, but it’s a bit too literal and not likely to be memorable.
If we want to make the description more likely to stick in the reader’s mind, we can use some figurative language.
Here we have used a simile to compare the park to a face and the trees to facial hair. This is memorable because it’s not what the reader expects; it makes them look at the park from a different angle.
You don’t have to fill every sentence with figurative language, but using these devices in an original way at various points throughout your essay will keep the reader engaged and convey your unique perspective on your subject.
Use your senses
Another key aspect of descriptive writing is the use of sensory details. This means referring not only to what something looks like, but also to smell, sound, touch, and taste.
Obviously not all senses will apply to every subject, but it’s always a good idea to explore what’s interesting about your subject beyond just what it looks like.
Even when your subject is more abstract, you might find a way to incorporate the senses more metaphorically, as in this descriptive essay about fear.
Choose the right words
Writing descriptively involves choosing your words carefully. The use of effective adjectives is important, but so is your choice of adverbs , verbs , and even nouns.
It’s easy to end up using clichéd phrases—“cold as ice,” “free as a bird”—but try to reflect further and make more precise, original word choices. Clichés provide conventional ways of describing things, but they don’t tell the reader anything about your unique perspective on what you’re describing.
Try looking over your sentences to find places where a different word would convey your impression more precisely or vividly. Using a thesaurus can help you find alternative word choices.
- My cat runs across the garden quickly and jumps onto the fence to watch it from above.
- My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above.
However, exercise care in your choices; don’t just look for the most impressive-looking synonym you can find for every word. Overuse of a thesaurus can result in ridiculous sentences like this one:
- My feline perambulates the allotment proficiently and capers atop the palisade to regard it from aloft.
An example of a short descriptive essay, written in response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” is shown below.
Hover over different parts of the text to see how a descriptive essay works.
On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.
My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.
With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…
Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.
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The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.
Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.
If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.
The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.
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Caulfield, J. (2023, August 14). How to Write a Descriptive Essay | Example & Tips. Scribbr. Retrieved August 30, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/descriptive-essay/
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