Descriptive Essay: ‘Night Scene’

Descriptive Essay Sample

‘Night Scene’ (2017 HL)

written and submitted by D. Knoop


The purpose of the Lee Tutorials Collaboration Hub is to provide an online platform that facilitates collaborative learning.

This descriptive essay title appeared in the 2017 Higher Level Paper. Read the descriptive essay in its entirety and take a look at the feedback that was provided to it’s author:


The cold steel door handle sends a shiver down my spine as I pull it down slowly. The dark mahogany door opens with a deep, echoing creak and I feel a trickle of sweat on my forehead. I slip through, opening the door to a minimal distance and taking care to close it gently behind me. I rub my hands together for warmth as the dark cold night beckons me to start shivering. I inhale and exhale deeply and heavy clouds of mist form as my warm breath meets the cold air. I can taste the coldness in my mouth and I start sweating to warm up.

​My eyes catch the scattered night-time drops of dew as they are illuminated by the pale light of the moon. They shine, like a million eyes staring back at me from the dark green hue of the hedges. Among the bushes, a spider builds a silken web. Precisely and carefully, the spider leaps from each leaf of the thick hedge, constructing its intricate trap. The moon hides behind a patch of greyish, navy clouds. Its light breaks through the wispy clouds, penetrating their dark cover. The sky is freckled with brilliant, glowing stars. Their intensity contrasts against the sombre blue of the night sky and warmth begins to fill me again as I take in this magnificent sight. 

​Reaching for my torch, I press my thumb into its switch and it turns on with a click. I start walking, my feet crunching the autumn leaves that lay on the moist ground. The brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and browns I saw this morning have changed into sombre blues and dark greens. It seems their warmth in colour has succumbed to the chill of the autumn night. My flashlight reveals a lone snail making its way across the leaves. It moves without seeming to move at all, taking its time. It leaves behinds a slimy trail of mucus as it goes, which catches the yellow light of my flashlight. I am startled by the sudden loud barking of a dog – my neighbour’s hound. This low growl is then followed by a chorus of other dogs in the suburb, as if in a dog choir. I hear the slow crescendo of an oncoming car. As it gets closer, I hear the crisp traction of its tyres with the black tarmac of the road. It zooms by with a flash of white, blinding light and the splash of a puddle.

​I continue walking, basking in the now eerie silence of the suburbs. The thin layers of ice on the pathway crackle under the rubber soles of my shoes. In the distance, a lamppost glows amber. As I approach it, I see a moth fluttering round the light source. It incessantly crashes into the bulb with a faint *dink* each time. A gentle breeze hits me from behind, setting me on my way again. The breeze continues, whistling in my ears and causing nearby trees and bushes to sway idyllically. I think of my childhood, when I thought the dark did not harvest any life. Night-time was a period of nothingness, in which nature went to sleep. I feel glad that I was disillusioned at this age, glad to be able to observe the life and light in the dark of the night. 

​I point my flashlight on a sign, which reads: ‘GrenwichForest’. Following the gravelly paths, my shoes make a gritty sound due to the myriad loose pebbles beneath them. The path grows ever mossier as I venture further into the forest. The air changes – it is now damper, but fresher. I take in a deep breath of fresh air, filling my lungs with the natural oxygen of my surroundings. An abrupt hoot beckons my head to look in the direction of a nearby tawny owl. Its intense round eyes seem to me to be almost belligerent, and my grip on the flashlight tightens. As I begin my effort to lurk by this magnificent beast, it takes flight. Its wings stretch into a feathery mass of whites, beige and browns. It flies off into the forest with a dull flapping sound that dies off after a while.

​I take a gulp of the forest air through my nostrils. I smell the vibrant smell of green plants, of autumnal foliage, of colourful flowers. Looking up, I observe the light of the pale moon as it slithers between the tops of the forest’s trees. It transforms their dull, dark leaves into a majestic glowing green. The path has now faded into fully overgrown moss and dew-dappled grass. My shoes now squelch on the wet ground and with each step, I seem to be sinking deeper into the dirt. The moon has moved higher into the sky now and I knew it would be time to go home soon.

​All of a sudden, I see a large illumination of light to my right. Curious, I trod through the overgrowth towards the source to look upon quite a striking sight: this collection of light is actually many little fireflies swarming together. I am awe-struck at their magic quality; how do they manage to capture that light? They flutter around – in their hundreds – leaving a glowing trail of light after them. Each insect is as magnificent as the next, flying in harmony alongside each other in the eerie silence of the night.  

​I venture back home, with a briskness to my gait. The moon is nearly at the end of its tenure in the sky, and the myriad sounds of cars tells me I need to get home quickly. I glance into the windshield of one woman, as she is waiting in the early morning traffic. He has dark rings of fatigue around her eyes and her eyes are open in puffed slits of redness. Yawning, she takes a sip of what I presume Is a warm, caffeinated drink. My own fatigue weighs down on me as I feel my muscles struggle to do my bidding. My stride becomes erratic, due to my sudden lethargy and I struggle to keep my eyes open. One deep inhale of the clear dawn air gives me enough fuel to make it to the door of my house. Faced with the same dilemma as before, I open the door at a snail’s pace, anticipating the dull creek, and shut it behind me in a similar fashion. I wipe any evidence of the night into the thick, brown bristles of the doormat. Taking off my tattered shoes, I slink stealthily up the stairs in an effort to avoid detection. 

​Once in bed, my eyes succumb to weariness and close heavily. I dream of the right nightlife just moments away.



What Was Effective?
  • Excellent use of 5 senses (these bring the story to life/set the scene and atmosphere)
  • Impressive range of vocab.
  • Powerful use of simile, verbs and personification 
  • Effective turn of phrase/writing style is fluid
  • Great ability to create vivid imagery in the mind’s eye of the reader (harnesses literary devices to create these)
  • Excellent example of aesthetic use of language
What Can Be Improved?
  • More developed narrative is required (the storyline which underscores the descriptive writing has to be even more engaging for the reader. The essay has incredible descriptions but needs more tension/climax (this is what will place your essay into the higher echelons when it comes to grades) 
  • Show rather than tell (too many ‘I see’ “I heard’ etc.) Show us what you saw/heard as opposed to tell us (remove the ‘I’ phrase)
  • More impactful conclusion needed
P – 22/30
C – 22/30
L – 22/30
M – 10/10
  • This is an elegantly written descriptive essay. The author will score highly on this section of Paper One should they heed the above advice. 

*As always, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have via the Lee Tutorials Instagram page.

Leave a Reply