Once you have decided on a topic, please keep the following in mind:

Use the five senses in your essay

Keep in mind that you want to include as much sensory detail as possible (and as appropriate) in your essay. Most of the time, students rely too heavily on the senses of sight and hearing, so be sure that you include the other three senses (taste, touch, smell) as well.

Show rather than tell

A bowl of popcorn next to a mug of hot cocoa both in front of a fire in a fireplaceImagine that you’re painting a vivid picture with words. You don’t want to tell the reader what you witnessed. Instead, you want to provide the reader with enough details so that he or she will get as close to the experience as possible. For example, you may like to have popcorn while you study.

When you’re only telling, you would write:

I love the taste of popcorn.

When you’re showing, you would write:

Buttery, fluffy kernels of salty, sweet fresh popcorn melt in my mouth as I read about proper comma usage.

Use active not passive sentence construction

Avoid sentences with passive voice and aim for active voice in your sentences. When you use active voice, the subject of your sentence is doing the action, as opposed to having the action done to it. Active voice will make for stronger, clearer sentences.

Include enough detail

Be sure to include enough detail to avoid bland descriptions, such as The popcorn was good.

Be wary of too much detail

The fluffy, white, round microwave popcorn tasted like fresh, yellow, corn on the cob from the farm that was picked by farmers at the ultimate peak of sweetness and slathered in delicious, cold, creamy, yellow-colored stick butter.

That sentence doesn’t work well either because it offers a tedious amount of detail.

TIP! You’ll want to find balance in your descriptions: Detailed descriptions are good, but don’t overdo it!

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