An essay is a written composition in which the writer gives expression to his or her views on some topic. It may also give information on a subject, narrate an incident or even describe a place or event.
An essay is written on a given topic or subject. The word ‘Essay’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Exagium’ which means ‘to present one’s views’. Therefore essays are short compositions in which the writer presents an argument, experience, description or even explains something. An essay usually presents a subject from the writer’s personal viewpoint.
Essays can be formal or informal. Academic Essays are usually formal and deal with serious topics, whereas informal essays are personal and often have humorous elements in them.
Types of Essays
Depending on what the writer wants to convey to the readers. Essays maybe divided into the following types.
To narrate is to tell someone about an incident or happening. In a narrative essay the writer narrates about an event or tells a story. These essays are written in the first person using ‘I’, ‘we’ etc. The aim of a narrative essay is to take the reader to that place and time of incident and to show through words what exactly took place. The aim is to bring about involvement of the reader through narration.
In this type of essay, the writer describes a place, an object, an event or some past incident. Descriptive essays are pictures painted in words. The reader is made to use the five senses to feel the emotions that the writer wants to convey through the clever use of words. Our brain can imagine situations by using our senses. So in a descriptive essay we make use of one of our senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell) to create an image in the mind of the reader. The reader should be made to feel that they have actually had the experience. It’s all about teasing the writer’s senses through imagery. For example if you are describing a forest- the trees, shrubs, leaves on the ground; the silence broken by sounds of animals and birds, everything needs to be described in detail to make the reader feel as if they are in the forest.
The main aim of persuasive essay is to convince the reader to agree with the writer’s point of view. Both sides of the thesis need to be presented, but the reader must be convinced that the writer’s point of view carries more weight than the rest. This should be done by supporting the position with strong evidences. Persuasive essays are based on emotions and personal opinions, and require the knowledge of the reader’s mindset more than extensive research. The essay should be able to convince the reader to accept that the writer’s opinion is the correct one.
The purpose of an argumentative essay is to convince the reader that the writer’s idea is true by using statistics. In these essays you have to use logic and reason to show that your view is more legitimate than others. You have to write either for or against the cause using formal and impersonal tone. The introductory paragraph must convey your position through a clear thesis. The body should have separate paragraphs for each point with detailed evidence to defend your position. Transitional words should be used to guide readers through the arguments in an organised manner. End with a compelling conclusion to win over the readers mind.
In this type of an essay you need to provide an unbiased and reliable assessment on a subject. Different points of view are discussed or argued in order to find out the correct one. As in argumentative essay you may have a strong point of view on the subject and put it forward after exploring different perspectives, but it is not essential to do so. You may simply put forward both sides of the view in a balanced manner.
This type of essay is also known as Explanatory essay in which the writer presents a balanced study of a topic. These topics may be on economy, science, literature and so on. In these essays facts are presented based on examples, proven data and statistics. There is no place for the writer’s feelings or emotions. The writer presents the exposition after extensive research on the subject.
Perspective / Reflective essays
A personal perspective essay presents the writers opinion on a subject. These essays present a reflection or thought on some subject – on an idea arising in the mind. The subject is usually of an abstract nature – for e.g. Habits, society, politics, philosophy, religion, theology and so on. The subjects are presented through reason and the statements are supported with arguments and facts.
Essays in which writers imagine themselves in a situation they have never been, and write about it are imaginative ones. Topics such as ‘My trip to an alien planet’ or ‘The autobiography of a laptop’ would call for imaginative essays.
Structure of an Essay (Essay Format)
An essay is basically divided into three parts.
The Introduction- This is the entrance to your essay. It should be arresting, concise and pertinent to the topic of the essay. You may give a brief synopsis of the essay to help the reader understand what the essay is about. The introduction may consist of a definition or a quotation, proverb, a rhetorical question or a very brie story that can hook the reader to the essay.
The Body – This is the main part of the essay where the action takes place. The main content comes here. The body can be extended to a number of paragraphs with each paragraph carrying a valid point that strengthens the essay. Proportion should be followed and due weightage should be given to all the points. It is very important to follow a logical sequence in a systematic manner so that the reader is not confused. Avoid repetitions and unnecessary use of words.
The Conclusion – This is the exit paragraph of the essay and should provide a feeling of completeness and satisfaction to the reader. It is a place to sum up the argument or story leaving no threads hanging about. A good conclusion may include a moral, a conclusion drawn from the topic or a striking quotation that nails the topic sentence.
Tips for writing a Good Essay
- Select a topic that you are most passionate about.
- Clearly define the subject in your own words.
- Do not make the essay too short or unnecessarily long. The ideal length is usually 300 to 500 words though you may increase or decrease it according to requirement.
- Think over the essay until relevant points come to your mind. Jot them down as they come.
- Make a bare outline by selecting the points and classifying them under suitable headings to be elaborated into paragraphs.
- Organise the paragraphs in a chronological order.
- Keep the language crisp and simple avoiding unnecessary superfluous words. They break the flow and complicate the sentence.
- Avoid spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and punctuate correctly.
- Make the introduction arresting.
- Use separate paragraphs for each important point in the body.
- Make the conclusion effective and satisfying.
- Write in a direct, simple, clear, concise and natural style.
The secret of a good essay lies in the clarity of thought of the writer. So think clearly and write directly, as briefly and as simply as possible. Bringing simplicity in writing is easier said than done but can definitely be acquired through practice.
True ease in writing comes from art not chance;
As those move easiest who have learned to dance,Pope