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How to create and implement a descriptive essay outline

The idea of writing a descriptive essay is to describe someone or something in great detail. You will find this most interesting if you choose a subject that you have strong feelings about, be they positive or negative. If you've got a few different ideas, you can use a chart to help you make a final decision, with a row for each of your ideas, then columns for colors, how you feel about them, and finally, the sequence that you plan to use. The sequence is the way in which you plan to write about your topic; if, for example, you're writing about the family dog, you may start with his nose and move down to the tip of his tail. Once you have a chart like this, you will be able to see which one you have the most things to say about, and you will be ready to write your descriptive essay outline.

With descriptive essays, as with any essays, it is important to plan out what you want to say. Otherwise, you may find that you ramble and begin to bore your reader. You need to think carefully about your sequence, and plan your paragraphs around the order in which you want to describe aspects of your subject in. This should break it down into sections for you, making a nice paragraphed structure.

If, however, you're still not too confident about your descriptive essay outline, then it can be a good idea to check out some examples online. While you can't take an essay from the internet and hand it in as your own, there is nothing wrong with viewing other essays for inspiration. If you write an essay yourself about a subject that you have chosen, then it's going to be completely unique to you anyway. Examples may just help to give you an idea of what the finished product should look like, and allow you to become familiar with descriptive essay structures.

Because it is called a descriptive essay, many students fall into the trap of only describing how the subject looks physically. While it is important to give your reader a clear picture of what your subject looks like, a descriptive essay requires a lot more than that. You can appeal to all of your reader's senses; if you're describing a baby cousin, think about the smell of a dirty nappy, or if you're writing about a pet, describe how the fur feels on your skin. What is possibly even more important, however, yet also gets forgotten, is the need to invoke feelings in your reader.

Try and use plenty of vivid and emotive language, because the reader doesn't just want to know what the subject is actually like, but how it makes you feel. A good way to ensure that you do this is to introduce your overall impression of the subject in your introductory paragraph. Then you can go into more detail about your feelings in each paragraph; when you describe a certain aspect of your subject, you can say exactly how that makes you feel. The idea is to give your reader some feelings about your subject – be it one of disgust, admiration or love. Your reader can't fully identify with you because they don't know your subject but they can relate to your feelings, so you create a bond with them and keep their interest.

The rule with description, however, is "show, don't tell". This means that rather than just telling your reader you feel happy, sad or angry, show them by explaining how your subject makes you react, and explain why you have chosen to write about it.

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