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My most favorite place has always been my grandmother’s house. This is the

place I would have to go to before and after school. I have always loved my

grandmother’s house because it made me feel safe and warm. There was a smell of

coffee in the air at all times. It seemed like all my grandmother did was make coffee.

If I smell coffee, I instantly think of my grandmother’s house. My grandmother’s house

was always filled with people. I can remember sitting in a chair watching her do hair.

She would take a hot comb and straighten her clients’ hair. The smell of burning hair

would linger in the house for days.

The house was old. My grandmother lived in it most of her life. The house was

white with black trimming, but most of the paint was chipped away on the back porch,

there was always fire wood. No matter if it was winter, spring, summer, or fall, there

would always be firewood on the porch. The house had one of those older heaters that

used firewood. I can recall putting wood in the heater and taking a poker to stir the

flames. That was the closest I ever came to playing with fire. I used to get so

excited and would always volunteer to poke the fire.

In the summer, we would play at the pond behind the house. It looked more like

a swamp than a pond. The pond was black as night and home to the snakes, tadpoles,

frogs, and fish. We would go to the pond to catch the tadpoles and fish. When night

fell, we would run around and catch fireflies. We also helped plant peas, collard

greens, and corn around the area. The corn grew up like a forest! I can remember

running through the corn and playing hide and seek. Even after all the fun I had,

picking the vegetables and shelling the peas was not my favorite moment.

On Sundays, Grandmother would cook a big Sunday dinner. Everyone was

expected to come to her house after church. The men would be in the den watching the

television while the women cooked. They would cook chicken, collard greens, peas, and

sweet potato pie. All of the kids had to stay outside and play, so not to get in the

way. If family came from out of town, the food supply would seem endless. Afterward,

everyone went home knowing that they were full and happy.

Recently, I returned to my grandmother’s house. It seemed so empty because no

one lives there now since my grandmother has been ill. Some of the windows are broken,

and the house is run down. The once illustrious garden is now but a patch of dirt, and

the wonderful pond is now dried up. I closed my eyes and imaged the family sitting at

the table, enjoying Sunday dinner, but now, things just don’t seem the same.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"My Grandmother’s House." 04 Oct 2016

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

By Grace Fleming. Homework & Study Tips Expert

Grace has worked with students for many years as an academic advisor and college enrollment counselor. She currently works as a Senior Advisor at a university in Georgia, where she teaches courses to help students improve academic performance, enhance research skills, and expand information literacy.

Updated July 30, 2016.

Your first task in writing a descriptive essay is to choose a topic that has many interesting parts or qualities to talk about. Unless you have a really vivid imagination, you'll find it difficult to write much about a simple object like a comb, for example. It's best to compare a few topics first to make sure they'll work.

The next challenge is to figure out the best way to describe your chosen subject in such a way as to relay a complete experience to the reader, so that he or she is able to see, hear, and feel through your words.

Continue Reading Below

As in any writing, the drafting stage is key to writing a successful descriptive essay. Since the purpose of the essay is to paint a mental image of a specific subject, it helps to make a list of all the things you associate with your topic.

For example, if your subject is the farm where you visited your grandparents as a child you would list all the things you associate with that place. Your list should include both general attributes associated with a farm and the more personal and specific things that make it special to you and the reader.

Start with general details

Then add the unique details:

  • That spot by the pig barn where you fell in the manure
  • Playing hide and seek in the cornfields
  • Picking wild greens for dinner with your grandmother
  • The stray dogs that always wandered onto the farm
  • Scary coyotes howling in the night

By tying these details together you can make the essay more relatable to the reader. Making these lists will allow you to see how you can tie things from each list together.

At this stage, you should determine a good order for the objects you'll describe.

Continue Reading Below

For example, if you are describing an object, you should determine whether you want to describe its appearance from top to bottom, or side to side.

Remember that it is important to begin your essay on a general level and work your way down to specifics. Start by outlining a simple five-paragraph essay with three main topics. Then you may expand on this basic outline.

Next you will begin to construct a thesis statement and a trial topic sentence for each main paragraph.

  • The thesis sentence should convey your overall impression of your subject. Does it make you happy? Is it attractive or ugly? Is your object useful?
  • Each topic sentence should introduce a new part or stage of your choses topic.

Don't worry, you can change these sentences later. It's time to start writing paragraphs !

As you build your paragraphs, you should avoid confusing the reader by bombarding them with unfamiliar information immediately; you must ease your way into your topic in your introductory paragraph. For example, instead of saying,

The farm was where I spent most summers holidays. During the summer we played hide and seek in the cornfields and walked through the cow pastures to pick wild greens for supper. Nana always carried a gun for snakes.

Instead, give the reader a broad view of your subject and work your way into the details. A better example would be:

In a small rural town in central Ohio was a farm surrounded by miles of cornfields. In this place, on many warm summer days, my cousins and I would run through the cornfields playing hide and seek or making our own crop circles as clubhouses. My grandparents, whom I called Nana and Papa, lived on this farm for many years. The old farmhouse was large and always full of people, and it was surrounded by wild animals. I spent many of my childhood summers and holidays here. It was the family gathering place.

Another simple rule of thumb to remember is "show don't tell." If you want to describe a feeling or action you should reinvent it through the senses rather than just state it. For example, instead of:

I got excited every time we pulled into the driveway of my grandparents house.

Try to elaborate what was really going on in your head:

After sitting for several hours in the back seat of the car, I found the slow crawl up the driveway to be absolute torture. I just knew Nana was inside waiting with fresh baked pies and treats for me. Papa would have some toy or trinket hidden somewhere but he would pretend not to recognize me for a few minutes just to tease me before he gave it to me. As my parents would struggle to pry the suitcases out of the trunk, I would bounce all the way up the porch and rattle the door until someone finally let me in.

The second version paints a picture and puts the reader in the scene. Anyone can be excited. What your reader needs and wants to know is, what makes it exciting?

Finally, don't try to cram too much into one paragraph. Use each paragraph to describe a different aspect of your subject. Check to make sure that your essay flows from one paragraph to the next with good transition statements .

The conclusion of your paragraph is where you can tie everything together and restate the thesis of your essay. Take all the details and summarize what they mean to you and why it is important.

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