Sometimes, when a professor assigns a descriptive essay about something very dear or familiar to us, be it a place or a person, we feel at a loss on how to start such an essay. Explaining something in a way that will make the other person understand not only the general appearance, but also what the object of description means to us personally is quite hard. Here are a few basic tips for you to use.
Location and Appearance
Start with something basic. Some students skip this part, thinking that it is self-explanatory, but it is essential to jot down a few sentences about the location and general appearance of your grandmother’s home, otherwise the reader will automatically imagine their own grandma. Is it a cottage in the woods? An apartment in the bustling city? A separate house in a respectable neighborhood? Describe the appearance as if you were a real estate agent:
Surrounded by a yellow fence, my grandma’s cottage in Provincetown is a two-storied old wooden house, that reminds of a cozy nest of a bird because of its size and unkempt garden.
Smells and Sounds
The two senses of perception, which are often disregarded, smell and sound, can bring vividness to the image you are creating. Visit the place you are describing and take a moment to lay down on the sofa with your eyes closed. What do you hear? It could be anything: the sound of the kettle boiling, of the birds chirping outside, of the old wooden pavement, of the creaking of the wood in the fireplace. What do you smell? Once again, anything is valid: the smell of old books, your grandma’s perfume, her apple pie baking in the oven. The more details you provide, the easier for the reader it will be to visualize what is in your mind.
A good trick to describe a place in an effective way is to provide a personal story connected with an object that belongs to the place. Visit your grandma or have a good look at the pictures of her house that you have. Immerse yourself in the memories, and find a particular story that might interest your reader. For example, you could write the following.
On the mantelpiece, my grandma keeps her collection of miniature porcelain angels. Varied in size and color, the little angels have always been perceived in my mind as something untouchable and majestic. Until one day, our cat, Pretzel, jumped up on the mantelpiece and accidentally dropped one of the figures on the floor, shattering it into tiny pieces. I remember the panic my brother and I felt as we quickly swept the remains under the rug. We made a similar figure out of clay to put on the mantelpiece, hoping grandma would not notice the difference, but she did. Thankfully, afterwards she only laughed about it, and our deformed clay angel became her favorite in the collection.
Some More Tips for Your Inspiration
Writing about something very dear to us can be easy and difficult at one and the same time. So, on the one hand, when describing your granny’s home, in your mind you may have clear images of the building itself, the yard around it, the cozy living room and your granny sitting on the sofa and knitting a warm sweater for her wonderful grandson or granddaughter, as well as dozens of other warm memories. All these pictures are so vivid that it seems, you can drag them in your imagination like photos on your computer screen simply choosing the best ones to write about.
On the other hand, you cannot forget about all those requirements for essay writing which your teacher or instructor provided you with when giving you such a task. Neat structure, logical connections between the facts you describe, spelling, punctuation and many other things may just make you go mad. In order to avoid this unnecessary stress, let’s discover a few ideas on how you can manage your essay preserving its original sincerity and neat academic style.
- Firstly, you should put aside the thought that you are doing your homework. Imagine that you are writing for your own pleasure, and not for your instructor who is going to check your paper. This will help you concentrate on your memories and true feelings evoked by them without disturbing yourself with the question about whether the instructor will like your essay or not. He/she definitely will if you make it sincere.
- Secondly, don’t hesitate to use comparisons and metaphors. Right, these are the so-called figures of speech which you can insert into the text of your essay to fresh it with some original images or ideas. For example, you can compare your granny’s bedroom with a treasure-house where the happy past keeps the most precious things in the world: old photos, letters, postcards and books which seem to be even older than the house.
- Thirdly, if you want to be sure that all your ideas are connected smoothly and the essay is not a just set of facts but presents an absolutely readable and understandable story, think about a plot for it. It means that you should describe not separate pictures stored in your memory, but a whole series of them. Think about one day you spent at your granny’s: it can be your background. If, for example, she and you were chatting in the kitchen, you can start from writing about the room itself and drop a few words about the house. Then move to describing your granny’s appearance and her magic culinary skills. Set your fantasy free.
- Last but not least: after you finish, check the whole text carefully. Correct the mistakes if there are some, and don’t forget to sign the paper.