Writing a descriptive essay can seem overwhelming, especially when writing about an influential person in your life. What you want is that your writing do justice to this person but, how can you capture the essence and complexity of a whole person? Descriptive essays do not focus on facts, but on personal experience to provide an emotionally satisfying experience for the reader. The best descriptive essays about people focus on a central theme or feature and bring out that theme or trait through detailed and specific observations. However, it should also be rich in texture and not one-dimensional.
Write a list of the most influential experiences you have had with this person. This will help you to sort your thoughts and decide on the introduction of the thesis, which tells the reader what your essay is about and what you hope to prove. After reviewing the most important events, does a topic arise? For example, was your grandfather of strict discipline? Did you feel resentful as you grew up, but looking back did you realize that it had a strong impact on your life?
Write a list of descriptive elements about this person. Try to use the five senses. Also think about how we want to reflect this person through these descriptive elements. Your grandfather may have dressed like a lumberjack and worked 12 hours a day, but he may also have given shelter to the homeless animals. Showing a contrast effectively will give complexity and richness to your essay.
Write an outline of your essay that includes your thesis statement and a numbered list that details the order of the experiences and descriptive elements you are going to discuss in the essay.
Write a first draft of your essay, following the outline. Include your thesis statement in the first paragraph and then extract those experiences and descriptive elements to create vivid scenarios in which the reader feels that he has come to know the person and understand exactly why this person was very influential to you.
Check your draft several times. Do your descriptions show, not only tell, the story of how this person influenced your life? Could the reader visualize this person if they had to? Do the events in your essay flow logically and support your thesis statement?
Give the essay to your friends to read. Ask them to give you their general impressions and what they felt was the main point of the essay. Ask them which aspects of the essay were the most memorable or convincing and also which parts confuse or need additional work.
Check the draft again, if necessary, based on your friends’ comments.