Modes of Discourse 101: Descriptive Writing

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve spent time writing and revising a descriptive essay on my kitchen.

Titled distinctively, “My Kitchen,” the essay depicts a vivid picture of my favorite place in the whole world.

My kitchen is special to me. I’m truly myself inside my kitchen while I’m dicing or mixing or searing whatever it is I’m making. Inside my kitchen, I can control the world. I love my kitchen because it’s so perfect and no at the same time. There are little dents on the cabinets, kitchen counter tops that aren’t always spotless. But yet, my kitchen is white and it sits behind a large window that illuminates the whole area to a heavenly glow. I’ve modified my kitchen, and left a signature K everywhere I go.

Unlike reality, I really do have the world in the palm of my hand inside my kitchen. Everything I create, everything that happens – it’s my fault and dedication. Sometimes, I feel so powerless outside. Sometimes, things happen to me and I can’t explain why. But in my kitchen, I can explain everything.

In my English class, our mode of discourse this period was descriptive writing. Descriptive writing is different from a narrative or comparative essay because it solely describes the object. There’s little room for anecdotes or flashbacks. The essay should give a clear image in the reader’s mind. The reader shouldn’t have to figure out their own take on your essay because you’ve already done it for them. What’s great about a descriptive essay is that you can tell right off the bat that it’s descriptive. (If the writer did a wonderful job, of course)

A descriptive essay should consist of a ratio of 3 parts concrete details, and 1 part abstract detail. Concrete details are specific facts. Concrete Granola

For example, this can include the black, matte and smooth buttons of a keyboard. Or perhaps, Grandma’s piping hot and freshly baked cookies.


These details are solid, concrete. Nothing really can be argued about concrete detail. Abstract detail, on the other hand, is conceptual.

Abstract iphoneography

It’s out of the box, unreal, and complex. Abstract detail might include feelings, success, what’s good or bad. Basically, they are ideas that can be debated about. Abstract details are different for each person.

Writing a descriptive essay is simple. Describe the thing you are describe in clear images, and write about what those details mean.

I’ve had my essay revised 3 times so far. Each revision is different and I think it really takes my essay to a new level.

The first draft is never the best.

Let me say that again.

The first draft is never the best.

I struggled on writing a descriptive essay. The first time I wrote my essay, it was very narrative. It took 2 revisions later to fix that.

I also wrote redundant paragraphs, expressing the same ideas over and over again. I concentrated too much about why my kitchen was special, and I wasn’t describing it enough.

My readers said, “Right now, your kitchen is very fuzzy in my head,” after the first revision.


This week is the last revision. For my essay, I need to work on creating clearer transitions, and take out the last slivers of anecdotes that shouldn’t belong in the essay.

Here is an except from my essay:

“I weave my way through white, pristine cupboards and glistening, marbled counter tops. Opening and closing the black refrigerator, the motion makes a sucking sound that shuts the buzzing hum of the ice cold preserving air. I shave curly bittersweet chocolate strips and hear quick raps of a glistening, sharp traditional Japanese knife as it finely chops through the dark amber candy on a bamboo cutting board. Racing through the dark sugar block, I flick on my metallic Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer. It whirs to life as it whips fluffy and creamy clouds of butter, eggs, and sugar. The motions are fluid and automatic, dancing like a ballerina in her spotlight. I’m baking rich chocolate cake. Leaping through this mess, I somehow feel as if I’m completely in control of the world in my kitchen.” – My Kitchen, by Kristie Hoang

This is my introductory paragraph.

On my next post, I will add possibly the rest of the essay and also the biggest revisions I made from my first draft to my last draft.

Happy Writing!



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