• Descriptive Writing Handouts



    Paragraph 1: Introduces topic and creates a single main impression.


    You may also physically describe what you ‘see’ in this paragraph. Use spatial organization and use of prepositions to make what you see come become real in the reader’s eyes. (The chimney sat on top of the house near the corner of the roof)



    Paragraph 2:

    Describes topic or person, or place with sensory and concrete detail.

    Choose ONE of the five senses and give three details to support that ‘sense.’ Use similes to make comparisons and give life to the detail.



    Paragraph 3:

    Second Sense: Example: Use one of the following:

    How does it feel?

    How does it look? (If you have not already used this in your introduction)

    How does it smell?

    How does it taste?

    What does it sound like?

    Add three details to support the sense. Put these details into an incident to show how they work out in real life.

    Example: The perfume smelled nice.

    As opposed to: When my mother opened the perfume the whole roomed smelled like lilacs. As I watched her daub the perfume on her neck I thought about how she smelled just like a flower.

    Paragraph 4:

    Third sensory detail, or concrete detail. Put the detail into an incident to “show and not tell.”

    Paragraph 5:

    Conclusion: Give a feeling for the entire picture or provide the reader with an unforgettable memory.


    1.Have you used the five senses?

    2. Have you used enough details to show each sense? (three things you saw, heard)

    3. Do you have five paragraphs?

    4. Do you have one sense to a paragraph?

    5. Do the ideas flow smoothly and have you used sentence variety?

    6. Have you used descriptive adjectives, similes and prepositional phrases?

    9. Have you used the “Show not Tell method and put the details into incidents? 


    Descriptive Outline:



    I. Introduction:

    A. Lead

    B. Physical description of place or item using descriptive adjectives.


    USE SIMILES to show and not tell as a comparison technique


    II. First Sense or Characteristic:

    A. First detail

                      B. Second detail-------PUT INTO INCIDENTS or give examples

    C. Third detail


    III. Second Sense or Characteristic:

    A. First detail

    B. Second detail---------PUT INTO INCIDENTS or give examples

    C. Third detail


    IV. Third Sense or Characteristic:

    A. First detail

    B. Second detail---------PUT INTO INCIDENTS or give examples

    C. Third detail


    VI. Conclusion:

    A. Use a feeling statement or “THE OVERWHELMING AURA”

    B. Most Outstanding or memorable experience in the place


    Descriptive Mode:



    1. Have you included enough details for your main topic?


    2. Are the ideas arranged in an order?


    3. Do you have five paragraphs?


    4. Do you have one sense to each paragraph?


    5. Do you have a specific detail or example included in each paragraph to “show” each sense?


    6. Do the ideas flow smoothly?


    7. Is the language specific rather than general?


    8. Have you used figurative language such as similes and metaphors?


    9. Have you used vivid and specific descriptive adjectives?


    10. Have you used the Show not Tell method?


    11. Have you put the details into incidents?


    12. Have you used sentence variety?


    13. Have you used prepositional transition words?


    14. Do you have an interesting lead?


    15. Do you have an ending, which gives the “feeling” of the person or place?


    16. Did you indent each paragraph?


    17. Did you use correct spelling and grammar?


    18. Can the reader visualize what you are describing?


    19. Have you made the reader LOVE this place or person?


    20. Have you sufficiently developed your main topic with details and examples?

    Descriptive Outline:

    Use this outline to write your descriptive essay about your pet. If you do not have a pet, make up an imaginary pet.



    A. Background info

    B. Physical description

    C. Detail #1 of what you see_______________________________ Give an example

    D. Detail #2 of what you see______________________________Give an example

    F. Prepositional phrase to show spatial organization_________________________


    II. First Sense: Choose sight, sound, feel, taste, or smell________________

    A. First detail you are going to describe____________________________

    B. Incident__________________________________

    C. Second detail_________________________________________________

    D. Incident_______________________________

    E. Third detail____________________________________________________

    F. Incident_______________________________


    III. Second Sense: ________________________________________________

    A. First detail you are going to describe______________________________

    B. Incident______________________________________________________

    C. Second detail you are going to describe__________________________

    D. Incident____________________________________________________

    E. Third detail you are going to describe___________________________

    F. Incident_____________________________________________________


    IV. Third Sense: ________________________________________________

    A. First detail you are going to describe_______________________________

    B. Incident_______________________________________________________

    C. Second detail you are going to describe____________________________

    D. Incident______________________________________________________

    E. Third detail you are going to describe_____________________________

    F. Incident______________________________________________________



    V. Conclusion:

    A. Give the aura of the whole place that you are describing.

    B. Give a general and specific feeling and summarize what is special about it.

    C. Include a memory or experience that happened there.


    NOTE: Description uses adjectives, similes, metaphors, and personifications.

    Putting the description into an incident means what you “do” with the person/place related to that sensory detail. This is “showing and not telling.” You describe by using senses and then you show how that works in real life. 


    Big Joe’s Pet Store


                The outside of the store boasted a huge sign, which hung on its side in a lop-sided fashion. It said, “Big Joe’s Pet Shop.” It was not your regular sign, but it was old and worn and it seemed like it had seen a lot of years and a lot of children come and go. The front door was an over-size antique oak door with huge brass hinges. As I turned the enormous handle and walked through the door, a plethora of animals seemed to be welcoming me into the store with their happy noises and growls and grunts. It felt like I had walked into my own personal jungle where animals had their habitat.

                In the far corner of the store a parrot of many colors was perched on a dried out tree limb and called out to everyone that entered, “Hello, hello!” I felt welcomed already! Dogs of all sorts, black, brown, and yellow dogs all looked mournfully out of their cages at me. I felt like they were wishing I would play a game with them. Near the cash register was a long aquarium of fish. Multi-colored, beautiful fish, which looked exotic in nature, swam soothingly through the algae and water and seemed happily engrossed in their activities. A rather malnourished cat, which looked like a long scraggly mop, brushed up against my leg and nuzzled my foot. I walked down the aisle and was surprised to see a cage with a tiny little monkey who looked like a little stuffed animal. The monkey hopped up and down and squealed with delight when he saw me acting as if he had just won the world cup! At the very back of the store I saw a little pond and in the pond a duck and several baby ducks were swimming silently and serenely with their mother watching protectively over them.

                I sat down in the chair and waited for Big Joe. I could hear the brown puppy beside me in the cage, pleading and barking at me to come and play “Frisbee” with him. The little kitty was still nuzzling up to me and in its mournful way meowed and asked me to pet it. The rattle of the hamster cage was louder than ever today. The hamster seemed to be running the world marathon as he made one circle after another on his makeshift roller coaster. Over all of this wonderful noise I could hear a young boy begging his father to buy him the yellow dog. “Please Dad,” he begged, “Please Dad, let me have this dog.” “Maybe for your birthday, Son,” the father replied. I finally picked up the kitty and its happy meow sounded in my ear and resounded in my heart. Suddenly I heard the voice I had been waiting for. “Hello Andy!” it boomed. It was Old Joe, the pet storeowner, and his big voice and big smile made me feel happy and loved all at once.

                Big Joe’s Store always has a peculiar odor. It was not like any other odor I had ever experienced. It was a mingling of dog odor and cat litter and fish food. I wasn’t sure whether I liked the strong odor or not, but in a way I loved smelling those familiar smells because they gave me a feeling of belonging. One smell I will not forget. In the corner of Big Joe’s he had a popcorn machine. Each time I came in, he would allow me to get a bag of that delicious smelling hot buttered popcorn. It was a favorite treat of mine. 

                If I were to say one thing that Old Joe’s reminds me of it would be a circus. The pet store has so many sounds and smells and interesting things to see that it reminds me of being at a circus. I always get excited when I go into Old Joes, not only because of the animals and the popcorn, but because I get a feeling of ultimate happiness when I am there.



    Model #2

    Descriptive Mode

    The Amusement Park


                The amusement park was called “Discovery Land.” I remember having such a wonderful time when I visited this place.

    My father had taken me to the park on the night of my 12th birthday. I remember looking up just before I entered this wonderful land of wonders and seeing a gigantic sign. The sign looked like a rainbow in the sky, since it had so many colors on it. The neon lights from behind the sign blinked and echoed at me as if asking me to enter the gates and illuminated the sign for me. I could see that the sign said, “Fun Land”. The sign was creative. It had two huge clown heads on either side of the name. Balloons and confetti covered the non- decorated parts. Beside the gate stood the ticket taker and a clown holding a handful of cotton candy.

                I had been staring at the sign so long that I did not feel my father tugging at the sleeve of my leather jacket. “Come On!” he yelled. “Let’s get in there!” The cool evening air was cool around my face and I felt excitement build in my veins as we walked through the gate.

                Fun Land just about took my breath away. Entering it was like entering a whole new world. Everywhere around you there were people of different colors, race, size and shape. Some were wearing bandanas and funny hats they had won, some were carrying big stuffed animals they had received as prizes. Most of the people were laughing and talking as they walked to the next ride. Some were jumping excitedly as they waited impatiently to get in line. Others were gulping down sodas or swallowing the blue, pink, purple and yellow cotton candy. There were rides everywhere! Roller coasters were snaking around the tracks, water- rides that would soak you to the skin, and rides that went so high that if you were afraid of heights you had better stay off of them.

                There was delicious food everywhere too. Monster salted pretzels, cotton candy of every color imaginable, and hot dogs with sauerkraut, hamburgers, fries, candy apples, and popcorn. The ground was littered with the yellow popcorn I had noticed. The best food of all was the funnel cakes that were hot and crisp and covered with light white powdered sugar. I also loved the snow cones. There were so many different flavors. I remember my father bought me one. It was grape and lime. Oh how wonderful it tasted and it was so sweet and cold in my dry mouth. Mmmmm! I could smell the grape syrup. “Thanks Dad!” I remember saying.

                My fondest memory though was the roller coaster. “Click, click, click, went the chains of the cart as it climbed slowly, steadily up the steep hill. At the top I looked down and the view was outstanding.   The bright lights, the laughing people, the clowns on stilts and the cotton candy sellers were all in view. I could also hear the moans of the other passengers as we went around and around on the roller coaster. I chuckled as I watched a little girl clutch her mother’s blouse. Then we were coasting downward and I could feel my stomach doing flip-flops as we made sharp turns. My fingers gripped the cold metal bar and then the ride was over.

                When my father and I left the amusement park I left with a huge hot pink teddy bear. I left with a feeling of happiness and joy.