How do you write a descriptive essay: avoiding common mistakes

Writing descriptive essays is one of the easier writing assignments in terms of university level writing, but there are still some common mistakes that many students make. By avoiding these common mistakes, students can write a great descriptive essay that’s guaranteed to get them an excellent grade. Here are the mistakes students should to their best to avoid:

Using long strings of adjectives

It’s the most common mistake and quite an understandable temptation: using long strings of adjectives when writing a descriptive essay. After all, adjectives are the most commonly used tool for description in writing, so it makes sense to use them generously when writing this type of essay. However, this can disrupt the flow of the paper, and it can also make it difficult to reach the required minimum number of words or pages. Don’t use more than three adjectives consecutively, and don’t even use that many consecutively routinely throughout the paper—only when it will have the appropriate impact. Using too many adjectives will inevitably also mean that the student will run out of adjectives to use and begin relying far too heavily on the thesaurus, making their paper sound pedantic and pretentious.

Not making use of metaphors and similes

Metaphors and similes come in with reduction of adjective use. Adjectives aren’t the only linguistic tools students have at their disposal to describe things. Metaphors liken the thing to something else being described by describing it as the second object or concept. For example, “Her eyes were oceans.” Similes are quite similar, but instead, compare the thing being described to another concept: “Her eyes were like oceans.” In either case, the student is given a whole new set of tools to use to describe the topic of the essay without relying upon adjectives alone.

Not organizing the essay properly

While students are typically very careful to organize other types of essays, like analytical essays, they can be far more lax when it comes to descriptive essays. They shouldn’t be. Just as any other essay has a structured, organized flow of ideas, so should a descriptive essay. Students should avoid allowing a descriptive essay to ramble on, and should organize it by assigning a theme or a main idea to each paragraph and ensuring that there are good transitions between paragraphs as well. This will result in a much higher grade.

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