Dominant Impression Descriptive Essay Ideas

People describe things every day: their dreams, their unique experiences, their lunches, their work, their vacations, and everything else in-between.  Even in some professions, like medical research or law enforcement, professionals rely on strong description on a daily basis in order to do their jobs.

Think about this: Have you ever gone into a hardware or grocery store knowing there was something you needed, but not knowing the name of the item? You may have had to rely on your ability to describe the item in order to explain to the salesperson what you were seeking. In order to make the person understand, you may have had to use metaphors, analogies, and examples.

This is exactly the task of a writer when writing a descriptive essay; to describe for the reader an event, person, place, thing, or idea to such an extent that the reader then understands something or believes something he or she did not understand or believe, before. It's an exceptionally important skill to develop, no matter a student's major field of study.

The secret to successfully completing a descriptive essay lies in the inclusion of three elements: the dominant impression thesis, visceral details, and a spatial structure.

A Dominant Impression

No matter what you're describing, be it a person, place, thing, idea, or event, you must choose a dominant impression to consistently convey throughout your essay. For example, if you are going to describe your messy roommate, you should not include details about how your roommate is also a good dancer because the dominant impression is that your roommate is messy. If you are describing a frightening experience with the dentist, the dominant impression is that it was frightening, not that it was inconvenient or helpful.

In a descriptive essay, the place for the dominant impression is in the thesis statement, the sentence or few sentences that convey the main idea, your opinion about the topic. The same statement of opinion can be included in your topic sentences within the body paragraphs to help maintain unity in your essay. For example, the thesis statement for your essay about your roommate could read, “College living is a lot more stressful than I expected because my roommate is a slob.” A topic sentence that supports that idea could read, “First, whenever my roommate leaves the room, she leaves her books and notes all over the floor, which makes me worry that I might trip and fall when I jump down from my upper bunk.”

You will prove your point by providing details that support these ideas.

Visceral Details

It’s very important, when writing description, to use visceral details. Visceral details are images that relate to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Instead of telling the reader that your roommate’s dirty dishes smell terrible, describe the smell to the reader. Do the dishes smell terrible like old socks, like fish left in the sun too long, or like a swamp at low tide? Are the piles of toothpaste in the sink just annoying, or are they a health concern because they are slimy and growing mold? Telling the reader the toothpaste is annoying can mean any number of things. Telling the reader the toothpaste is slimy and growing mold is a specific example that proves your point; your roommate is a slob.

The Spatial Structure

Although a categorical approach works well in a descriptive essay, another more unique way to organize your ideas is to use the spatial organizational structure. This means your writing moves “through space,” or like a movie camera, as you recall and give details. The movie camera helps determine the point of view and the order of details.

Let’s pick on your roommate one more time: You could describe your roommate’s messy bedroom from top to bottom, or from bottom to top, left to right, or doorway to bathroom door.

If you were to choose top to bottom, you might begin by addressing the spaghetti noodles stuck to the ceiling, then move to the dead goldfish on top of the bureau, then write about the books and papers all over the floor.

On the other hand, if you were to describe the room from doorway to bathroom door, you might start by explaining to the reader how you have to step over piles of papers without touching the bureau for balance because of the dead goldfish stuck to the top of it. Then, you could explain how stressed out you are as you cross to the bathroom because you fear the spaghetti noodles on the ceiling could fall on you at any moment. Last but not least, you could tell the reader that even after making it all the way to the bathroom door, you’re afraid to enter the bathroom when you see that your roommate still hasn't cleaned the moldy toothpaste from the sink.

Whatever the details you choose to include, be sure the details support your dominant impression thesis statement. Then, write the details you choose to include for maximum impact by making them visceral for the reader. Finally, be sure to choose an order for your details that explains your point as clearly as possible for the reader.

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Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

How to Write a Descriptive Essay on any Topic

Published 5/8/2013

What is a Descriptive Essay?

A descriptive essay gives the reader a mental image of a person, object, place or event using vivid sensory details.

Much more than other types of essays, descriptive essays should provide a deeply involved and vivid experience for the reader. Good descriptive essay achieves this affect by using detailed observations and descriptions.

Choosing a Topic for Descriptive Essay

Before you begin writing the descriptive essay, you need to have a clear idea why you are writing it. Was it something that was really memorable? Remember that your goal is to make the reader experience almost as clear as your past experiences.

Some goof examples for a descriptive essay are:

You favorite restaurant
Your dream house
Your ideal roommate
Your memory of a place that you visited as a child

Using the following links, you can find a lot of good topics for your descriptive essay:

Descriptive Essay Topics (1)

Descriptive Essay Topics (2)

Ideas for Descriptive Essay

Descriptive Essay Structure

Considering the right structure for your essay is one of the key points of success. Sticking to a recommended essay structure is the only way to properly outline and write it, paragraph by paragraph from the introduction to conclusion, without mistakes.

Depending on the type of descriptive approach, your essay can be organized spatially, chronologically or by importance.

Therefore, your can choose one of the following three patterns: "Spatial Order", "Chronological Order" and "Climactic Order".

Spatial Order Pattern

Spatial order of a descriptive essay is the order of space. This means that your writing moves like a movie camera, as you recall and give details.

This pattern is especially useful when your topic is a place.

It contains five paragraphs: introduction, conclusion, and three paragraphs, showing three locations within the place you are describing.

Chronological Order Pattern

Chronological order of a descriptive essay is the order of time, so your writing moves scene by scene.

This pattern is especially useful when your topic is an event.

It contains five paragraphs: introduction, conclusion, and three paragraphs, detailing the three scenes.

Climactic Order Pattern

Climactic Order is the order of importance. Usually, items are arranged from less important to more important, so you save the best point for the end of the essay.

This pattern is generic, and can be used for any topic of descriptive approach.

It contains five paragraphs: introduction, conclusion, and three paragraphs for three points / properties of the described person or object.

Did you choose an descriptive essay pattern? Great! Now...

After choosing an essay pattern, now all you need is to write your descriptive essay, on any topic, according to your pattern’s structure. Also, be sure to read the A+ writing tips for a descriptive essay on any topic below. Follow these instructions and you will write a high grading descriptive essay.

Writing an A+ Descriptive Essay


In a descriptive essay, the introduction is very important. It gives the reader his/her first impression of the text.

Start with a short background

Everyone needs to take a break from the crazy pace of NYC lifestyle, once in a while. When I ask myself where the best place to do that is, I do not have to think for more than a second.

State the dominant impression about the subject

This can be stated outright or implied; usually anything implied adopts a "show, but not tell" approach. This approach can sometimes make a greater impression with the reader.

My favorite spot in the NYC is the Van Cortlandt Park, with its long paving trails that I so much like to ride on my bike, passing jungles of trees and bushes so wild that they make you believe you have escaped the city completely, and are somewhere in the middle of a real rich forest.

Spatial Order - Location Paragraph

Specify the location

Provide the necessary factual details. Where is it? What are the main objects / people there? What is the main feeling about it?

As I moved through the dense forest of the park, I pushed away the ample fluffy branches that came in my way, trying not to hurt any of the big flat leaves, or neat, perfect acorns that covered each branch. Wanting to be closer to nature, I decided not to take the pathway but, instead, go directly through the forest. It was as if there wasn’t a sign of civilization around me at all.

Enrich the description with sensory details

Provide the visceral details relate to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Describe your emotions and feelings.

The air was still wet from the early morning shower. While everywhere, in the open, it had already been very dry and hot, as if there wasn’t a shower at all; the shadows of the forest still preserved the moist humidity, intensified by the smell of wet moss and last year’s leaves that still lay on the ground. I loved this deep moist air, saturated with oxygen and filled with freshness.

Chronological Order - Scene Paragraph

Specify the scene

Provide the necessary factual details. When did it happen? What were the main objects / people? What was your main feeling about it?

When I started school, mom was my ally. To me, school was a world where ghosts and bad guys lurk. Instead of laughing at my fears, mom showed me how great school can be.

Enrich the description with sensory details

Provide the visceral details relate to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Describe your emotions and feelings.

Instead of dropping me off at school, she came out of the car, knelt down, tenderly cupped my face with both hands and told me: "Don’t worry, honey. There won’t be any bad guys today, Mommy made them go away."

Climactic Order - Scene Paragraph

State the point

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the painting is the woman's smile.

Enrich the description with sensory details

Provide the visceral details relate to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Describe your emotions and feelings.

Many believe that it is innocent and inviting, while others believe it is that of smugness and is actually a smirk. Many scientific studies have been undertaken to determine the exact nature of the smile but the real reason remains a mystery. It is believed that every person sees the smile differently because of the changes in the lighting that de Vinci presented.


The conclusion of a descriptive essay is just as important as the introduction. The conclusion seals the essay and tries to close the issue. Conclusion is the last part of the essay that your reader will experience.

Restate your feelings about the subject

Wrap up the description and provide final thoughts.

Although the painting looks calm, it actually hides a secret so deep, that no one, for centuries had revealed. It takes a long look at the Mona Lisa to appreciate its complex beauty.

Finalizing your Work

Pay attention that even though your essay is fully written, it still isn’t ready to submission.

There are some common and annoying mistakes which may significantly harm your grade. However, you can avoid those grade lowering mistakes by completing the following checklist:

  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Ensure that your essay is fully compliant with the required formatting standard
  • Properly organize all the citations and the References / Works Cited page
  • Ensure that your title page is done as required
  • Take a final look at your paper to be certain that everything is indeed fine

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