How to essay

What is an essay supposed to be

An essay has been defined in a variety of ways. One definition is a "prose composition with a focused subject of discussion" or a "long, systematic discourse". It is difficult to define the genre into which essays fall. Aldous Huxley, a leading essayist, gives guidance on the subject. He notes that "the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything", and adds that "by tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece". Furthermore, Huxley argues that "essays belong to a literary species whose extreme variability can be studied most effectively within a three-poled frame of reference". These three poles are:

  • The personal and the autobiographical: The essayists that feel most comfortable in this pole "write fragments of reflective autobiography and look at the world through the keyhole of anecdote and description".
  • The objective, the factual, and the concrete particular: The essayists that write from this pole "do not speak directly of themselves, but turn their attention outward to some literary or scientific or political theme. Their art consists of setting forth, passing judgment upon, and drawing general conclusions from the relevant data".
  • The abstract-universal: In this pole "we find those essayists who do their work in the world of high abstractions", who are never personal and who seldom mention the particular facts of experience.

Huxley adds that the most satisfying essays "...make the best not of one, not of two, but of all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist." Read more...

in short

The essayistic writing is to be regarded as a form of clarifying writing, 
which does not have to follow the schema of the discussion, 
but nevertheless can reach conclusions reasonably. 
This can also serve mental games and hypothetical arguments, 
as well as direct reader address and subjective formulations.
  1. start with a basic sentence
  • I ...
  • No ...
  • I had always thought that ...
  • Who would have thought that ...
  • It is in the air ...
  • Put a quote in the beginning

Don't start with something like yesterday, today, again and again, recently

  1. go on with a description
  • facts
  • atmospheric location
  • missunderstandings
  1. explain
  • what has brought you too this opinion
  • what triggered your opinion change
  • what you think appropriate
  • what you are still in the dark about
  • where from your point of view there is a need for clarification
  1. set yourself apart
  • with the fallacys of the people
  • with their reasons and occasions
  • with the facts
  • with the general opinion
  1. in conclusion
  • get to the point
  • sharply worded conclusion
  • exteriors may also be your perplexity
  • ask for reflection

This is what the structure could look like. Regarding the style of writing it is important to

  • be courageous and confident
  • say "I" instead of one/they/somebody
  • use pictures and comparisons
  • be rethorical, use e.g. repetition, ranking, enhancement
  • perhaps get a little upset

Furthermore check that your essay applys to

  • thematic diverity
  • subjective approach
  • systematic penetration is not required
  • no exhaustive analysis
  • thoughts of thought, accents and original formulations are allowed

Keep in mind that the essay shouldn't convice or anything, but it should give the reader an impression from another point of view on a topic and should make him start thinking about the topic considering other angles.

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