Descriptive Writing Prompts

Instructor: Adam Nystrom

Adam owns a Master's degree in Professional and Digital Media Writing. During his time as a graduate assistant, he developed lesson plans for upper-level English courses.

When writing a descriptive essay, you'll want to zone in on the details you would normally consider minute and unimportant in an effort to engage your reader. The prompts included in this article will steer you in the direction of great descriptive writing.

Where Can I Start?

What excites you or fills you with a need to talk? When thinking of a topic for a descriptive writing paper, you'll need something that has layers and can inspire you to fill up that white space on the screen. Take a look at some of the ideas for descriptive writing included below.

A Mirror Image

You've seen your own reflection plenty of times by now. Try to think about how someone who is your exact opposite would look and behave. In what key areas would you differ? How radically would this person's appearance change? How would this affect things like behavior and personal preferences?

A Great School

Think of what your ideal school would have. What do the buildings look like and where are they located? What kind of population makes up the students and faculty? How big are the class sizes, and what will you study?

An Exploration

Imagine the bottom of the ocean or an unexplored cave nestled deep in a jungle. What sorts of creatures exist there? Have they been discovered before, and what do they look and sound like? What kind of terrain surrounds the area, and how did you get there in the first place?

A Massive Blackout

What if the electricity went out all of a sudden and there's no telling when it will come back on? How do you adjust to your surroundings? What kinds of activities are you no longer able to enjoy because of the power outage? How does this affect your daily routine and the lives of people around you?

What Other Resources Can I Use

If you'd like more tips and techniques for writing descriptive essays, check out's 9th Grade English course. This chapter on essay basics can show you how to use sensory information and vivid language to captivate your reader. You can also get an introduction to high school writing.

Once you've mastered the material in this course, you can also find English courses for other grade levels: