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List of Descriptive Essay Topics

Of all different types of essays a student may have to write, the descriptive one is by far the easiest. They are often relaying a more personal message and do not require much research, the descriptive essay can be a great way to get your students started in the writing process. When it comes to choosing the right topic as a writing assignment for your students, the sky can be the limit.

When choosing a topic for a descriptive essay, it helps to understand what information the paper should include. Remember that the essay has to describe in detail a certain place or an experience that the writer has had to deal with. The subject of a descriptive essay can be either a person, place, object, memory, event, or an experience. Ultimately if you give your students an option it will be up to them to narrow down the endless array of choices they might have. Ideally, they will want to select a topic that will easily conjure up descriptive terminology in a way that the reader will be able to connect to.

A Person

When describing a person, the writer should not just write about the physical characteristics of the individual but also include personality quirks, sense of style, the way they talk and communicate, and their feelings in different circumstances. Consider writing about some of these people:

  1. Someone who means a lot to you
  2. A person that frightens you
  3. Someone you deeply respect
  4. A family member
  5. A political figure
  6. A favorite actor or musician
  7. An artist
  8. A neighbor
  9. An industry leader
  10. A person you rely upon

A Place

When writing about a place, the writer should include distinguishable features of the area. However, it is not enough to just write about what the place looks like, the writer should endeavor to incorporate the 5 W’s into the paper: who, what , when, where, and why. If all of these are included, the reader will not only understand why the location was chosen but what it means to the writer. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. An important place
  2. A place that inspires you
  3. A historical site
  4. An art exhibit
  5. A prison cell
  6. The Superbowl
  7. The site of a natural disaster
  8. Space
  9. A strange place
  10. A favorite place to eat

An Object

Objects often carry with them sentimental meanings that could make it easy to describe. Again, the writer wants to answer all of the pertinent questions that the reader would have when reading the paper. The writer should endeavor to describe why the item is important to them. Does it have a negative connotation or does it bring back pleasant memories. What is the sentiment connected to it and how important it is to them. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. An object of personal value
  2. A book
  3. A family heirloom
  4. A movie
  5. A meal

A Memory/Dream

Memories also can provide excellent descriptive subjects. Memories come in all types from a real life memory to a very vivid dream. Memories evoke many emotions that could come out in the writing process allowing them to express things they would not normally think about.

  1. A personal memory
  2. Your life in 20 years
  3. A lesson you’ll never forget
  4. What do you daydream about
  5. Learning something for the first time
  6. A recent vacation
  7. The future

An Event/Experience

Events can sometimes overlap with memories and the fundamental descriptive prose is often the same. When you’re dealing with an event from the past, you’re also dealing with a memory. Conversely, when you’re dealing with dreams of the future you’re also dealing with hopes and dreams of today. All of these can make for extremely descriptive prose.

  1. A favorite holiday
  2. A phobia
  3. A life changing event
  4. Your first paycheck
  5. Winning something
  6. A recent vacation
  7. A major accomplishment
  8. A concert

You’ll notice that the topic chosen has to be something that is very personal to the writer. With that personal connection, the ability to write descriptively will be much easier.

As you can see, there is no end to the number of topics you can choose for a descriptive essay. Remember, it is not about facts and figures as is the case with other types of essay topics but is about what sensations the writer experiences when in that particular situation or in the presence of that individual and how he can relay those feelings to the reader.

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