Humanities › English 40 Topics to Help With Descriptive Writing Assignments A Helpful List for Writing Paragraphs, Essays, and Speeches Share Flipboard Email Print Joerg Dirmeitis / EyeEm / Getty Images English Writing Writing Essays Writing Research Papers Journalism English Grammar By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated February 12, 2020 Descriptive writing calls for close attention to factual and sensory details: show, don't tell. Whether your subject is as small as a strawberry or as large as a fruit farm, you should begin by observing your subject closely. Examine it with all five senses, and write down any details and descriptions that come to mind. Next, go a little further afield with your list and associate your chosen topic or object with memories, opinions, and impressions. This list may give you some ideas for metaphors and possibly even a direction for your paragraph or essay. Then make a list of verbs that could be associated with your topic or object. This will help you have more variety than just "buzzing be" verbs and keep the writing and imagery descriptive and active. After your brainstorming phase, go through your list and decide which details and descriptions you like the most and are most significant. Don't cross off the others, though. At this point in the project, you want to be open to any direction your imagination and writing take you. Good advice from Steven King from his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: If you want to be a successful writer, you must be able to describe [your subject], and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition. ... Thin description leaves the reader feeling bewildered and nearsighted. Overdescription buries him or her in details and images. The trick is to find a happy medium. 40 Topic Suggestions To get you started, here are 40 topic suggestions for a descriptive paragraph, essay, or speech. These suggestions should help you discover a subject that especially interests you. If you don't start out with a topic that you're willing to spend some time with, your writing will show your lack of enthusiasm. If 40 is not enough, try this list of more than 400 writing topics. If you need some advice for the drafting phase, see "Composing Descriptive Paragraphs and Essays" and "How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph." a waiting rooma basketball, baseball glove, or tennis racketa smartphonea treasured belonginga laptop computera favorite restaurantyour dream houseyour ideal roommatea closetyour memory of a place that you visited as a childa lockeran accident scenea city bus or subway trainan unusual rooma child's secret hiding placea bowl of fruitan item left too long in your refrigeratorbackstage during a play or concerta vase of flowersa restroom in a service stationa street that leads to your home or schoolyour favorite foodthe inside of a spaceshipthe scene at a concert or athletic eventan art exhibitan ideal apartmentyour old neighborhooda small-town cemeterya pizzaa peta photographa hospital emergency rooma particular friend or family membera paintinga storefront windowan inspiring viewa work tablea character from a book, movie, or television programa refrigerator or washing machinea Halloween costume Source King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Scribner, 2000.