Tag Archives: descriptive essays

Descriptive Essays

Vivid image

Up to recently, students felt relatively confident that they were choosing from amongst four genres in the composing section of the Leaving Cert English Paper 1 – you wrote a

  1. short story
  2. personal essay
  3. newspaper/magazine article or
  4. speech/debate

Occasionally you’d have the option to write a series of diary entries, but this has¬†more or less disappeared from composing and is more likely to appear as a QB.

Descriptive words

Anyway, descriptive essays have started to make an appearance on the paper, a fact which I am bloody delighted about! To my mind, they are a half-way house between the short story and the personal essay. If you’re good at descriptive writing, this is a great option to choose instead of the short story because you don’t have to worry about creating a plausible ‘plot’. As long as you can describe vividly, you can potentially get full marks here. With personal essays, you will often (nay should!) write in a descriptive way but you’ll also feel the need to reveal your personality; the essence of who you are as a person. So the descriptive essay is once again a less prescriptive option, because you’ve don’t have to worry about laying bare your soul.

For a full and detailed discussion of what exactly descriptive writing is and how to do it yourself, click on this post “Language of Narration & Description“. Meanwhile, here are the two descriptive essay titles that have come up so far – they’re very open and very doable imho.

2013 Write a descriptive essay based on a variety of glimpsed moments.

2011 Write a descriptive essay about twenty-four hours in the life of a town or city.

Here’s a link to a descriptive essay I wrote a while back, called ‘fragments from a lost weekend‘. I deliberately used lower case letters in the title to try and reflect my sense that this was a series of throwaway fragments; and also perhaps the idea that my experience was minor and insignificant by comparison to what my friend suffered in losing her dad.

Some would argue it’s a short story; others that it’s a personal essay. I think it’s both and neither. I think ultimately I was trying to write a descriptive essay which would capture the void which gapes open in a person’s life when they lose a parent.