Recreating Experiences on Descriptive Essays

Descriptive Essays

It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But pictures aren’t always available to describe something, and then we do the best we can with words. And words have their limitations; like how do you describe color to a blind man? Nevertheless, words offer tremendous scope for recreating experiences, and that’s what a descriptive essay strives for.

Think about the cup of coffee you had this morning. Imagine the invigorating aroma of cocoa beans, the sweet coolness of the beverage and the brief sharp bitter aftertaste. What were you doing when you were sipping the coffee? Were you sitting in a cafe reading a book or hurrying to class? Can you remember the first time you tasted coffee? What was it like and who introduced you to it? The description of a simple everyday morning ritual (drinking coffee) can unlock so many memories and beliefs. Perhaps just remembering it made you recollect things that you thought you hadn’t noticed, like the colour of the trees you passed on your way to class.

Or try imagining the events leading up to Usain Bolt’s creation of an Olympic record and how he felt when he realized he had done so. In recreating an experience, a descriptive essays thereby enriches it. The experience may not be the writer’s, in which case one has to use background reading and some imagination to put the pieces together.

Tactile imagery is a great tool in such essays i.e. stimulating the sense of touch. For instance, “He handed her a tropical fruit that felt like it was dotted with blunt stones under her frail fingers.” Visual imagery is another tool. The writer has to capture the sights, the sounds and the smell of what he/she is describing.

Be as vivid as possible in your essay writing. For instance instead of “Vermont has great scenery, lovely weather and a lot to see.”, you could write “No matter how far you have to travel to reach Richmond, inhaling the cool pine-scented mountain air makes it all worth it. Snow capped mountains tower above the region where… The place is a hiker’s paradise, Mount Elmore alone saw hikers visit it in 2011.”

A descriptive essay is in some ways similar to an informative essay, but it has to engage the reader more closely. It has elements of storytelling, and it allows for the inclusion of personal accounts wherever relevant. Sentimentality is allowed too, if it helps to enliven a “dry” subject. For instance a descriptive essay on fishing tools can begin with the narration of the fishing trips you took as a child and then move on the main subject.

Like with most essays, it is wise to devote a paragraph to each aspect that you wish to describe. Provide the reader with the necessary details but don’t overload the essay with information. What to omit or include depends on the focus of the essay; an essay on tourism in Vermont would include different aspects than one on the government of Vermont. Choose judiciously.

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