A Descriptive Essay is used to create a vivid image of a person, place, or thing. It draws on all of the senses, not merely the visual. Its purpose is to enable the reader to share the writer’s sensory experience of the subject.

Essay writing purposes center on a point being made, and that point is then supported by specific evidence. The essay usually requires the writer to persuade the reader to agree with him that the essay’s thesis is correct. In all respects, the purposes of essay writing are to inform, to persuade, or to entertain.

This is a descriptive essay, and its purpose is mainly to inform, but it should also include persuasion and needs to engage the reader’s interest (to entertain). The easiest approach to writing a descriptive essay is in the first person – to describe what the writer sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels. Because the writer has experienced these things, his descriptions can be more vivid than when he describes something that someone else experiences.

That said, it is more difficult to write a descriptive essay from the third person approach – for the writer to seemingly detach herself from the description. The writer does not, however, need to remove her experiences, but rather she should describe her subject differently than she would in a first person essay. In a third person essay, the object becomes literally the subject of the essay. For example, if she were to describe the whiteboard in the classroom, the writer’s sentences could be structured like these:

“The whiteboard came from the factory clean and white, with a smooth, unblemished surface. After many years of use, the board has scratches, pockmarks, dents, and stains that inhibit its effectiveness as a useful tool for classroom study.”

“First, the audio-visual (A/V) cart includes a shelf for the instructor to store videos, books, and disks. Because the shelf is too shallow, however, it prevents items from remaining organized, so the instructor’s supplies are jumbled and messy.”

These two examples describe one feature of their subjects: the whiteboard and the A/V cart. They inform the reader, but they also include an element of persuasion. Both examples imply to the reader that the tools need to be replaced. Therefore, these essays’ purposes could be to persuade the administration to replace outdated or damaged classroom resources. A sample thesis statement could be:

“Teaching resources in the classrooms at Coconino Community College enhance the institution’s ability to offer its students every opportunity to succeed in their academic careers, even though some of the equipment needs to be updated or repaired.”

That essay would to inform the reader by describing the teaching tools in the classroom. At the same time, the essay would have elements of persuasion, when it describes a tool that needs attention. It would approach the essay from the point of view of the classroom tools, not the writer’s point of view of the tools.

Your assignment, then, is to write a descriptive essay of one of the prompts listed below. Write from the point of view of your subject, and find something about that subject that you want to persuade your reader to feel the same way you feel. You may think positively or negatively about your subject, so persuade your audience (me or your peers) to feel that way too.


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