Table of Contents
    Janelle Harris

    Janelle Harris

    28 April, 2021

    What Is an Essay?

    Michele de Montaigne made writing essays a popular activity, so many writers and scientists followed his example. Although a few centuries separate us from the day he published his first collection, a short form still finds its fans. Besides, it’s even hard to imagine how many essays are an important part of literature today. George Orwell, Marcel Proust, Isaac Asimov, Herbert Wells, and Jack London are among the most famous essayists. They all wrote on different subjects, from science to politics, but their essays are united by a strong viewpoint and thoughtful presentation. The essay definition in literature has become a synonym for bold statements and innovative ideas.

    Essay as a Part of Academic Career

    Now that you know what an essay is, it’s time to learn different essay types. The understanding of the characteristics of each type will help you write appropriate papers and present your ideas clearly. Once you learn the main academic essay types, you’ll cope with your assignments faster as you’ll pick the right direction and know where to look for necessary information.

    Five-paragraph essay

    A five-paragraph essay is a typical assignment for most students. This paper follows a common structure, including an introduction, three paragraphs of a body text, and a conclusion. Traditionally, the opening chapter explains the main idea of your paper, while the next sections contain its expanded version, evidence, and supporting details. In a conclusion paragraph, you need to share your final thoughts on a topic.

    Argumentative essay

    An argumentative essay requires a writer to present their or someone’s opinion and defend it with relevant evidence. You can even name controversial ideas and provide powerful supporting details to persuade a reader that your statement is the strongest one. Students write argumentative essays on topics in science, politics, sociology, etc.

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    Compare and Contrast essay

    For this essay type, a writer should compare two subjects to identify new connections, differences, and similarities between them. Undoubtedly, it’s easier to explore and describe obvious characteristics, but you’ll have to highlight unexpected insights unknown to a reader. However, if you come up with an argument, you’ll also need to present evidence. For example, you can use personal experience to help a reader understand your position. If you have to compare books, historical periods, or learning formats, you should use examples, quotes, stats, and different research findings to back up your arguments.

    Definition essay

    You may think that a definition essay is one of the easiest tasks you have ever had to complete, but you are wrong. Although you just have to pick a term or entire concept and explain it, this assignment is all about research. You’ll need to explore the etymology and background of a concept, its characteristics as well as pros and cons. A definition essay will occupy more than half a page since you have to give a detailed explanation of a subject. If there are a few definitions for one term, mention them to provide a reader with a deep insight into the background of this word.

    Descriptive essay

    A descriptive essay is a paper that perfectly demonstrates a writer’s writing talent. You have to involve all your senses to describe scenery, smell, shape, feeling, or taste in your text. An excellent descriptive essay helps a reader imagine things you’re writing about. If you have to write about your father’s job, you can describe his responsibilities and add some casual details that can be familiar to a reader. For example, you can write about the morning rituals he repeats every day before heading to his office. Some of the readers will recognize their fathers in your story, so you can give yourself a little freedom when writing a descriptive essay.

    Illustration essay

    An illustration essay should be packed with real-life examples as a writer’s mission is to persuade a reader of the existence of particular things or phenomena. You have to focus more on research than on description features because you need to provide dry facts to prove some statement. Back up the description of a point with different examples to set the connection with a reader and clarify the core idea of your essay.

    Informative essay

    You should be a great storyteller to write an excellent informative essay. This paper should simply describe a topic, educate a reader, or involve data analysis. Even though you don’t have to present your opinion on a subject or persuade a reader to agree with you, your informative essay should be interesting and engaging. You can include facts your audience didn’t know previously or add exciting examples to write a winning paper.

    Narrative essay

    You’ll easily get a narrative essay define as a paper often based on a writer’s experience. You’ll have to describe a particular period of a famous person’s life using chronological order. However, if a professor asks you to write about yourself, you can go creative as a narrative essay gives more freedom than other paper types.

    Persuasive essay

    As a writer, you’ll have to do your best to convince a reader to agree with your statement. You’ll need to describe a subject from different perspectives, present your statement, and include persuasive evidence to make the audience take your side. Research a topic and pick the strongest points to back up your opinion.

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    Essay as a Form of Art

    Writing essays isn’t the only way you can use to express your thoughts. Visual storytelling also involves photographic essays, documentary films, sketch albums, etc. Artists deliver a story through pieces of art so that people could discover their ideas visually without the necessity to read texts. Series of photographs united by one theme can also refer to essays, and that’s why you should experiment if you have a chance to pick a format to tell a story. You can show so much more through images than text. For example, you can show one day from a subject’s life, guide your audience through local historical landmarks, or demonstrate what happens behind the scenes of a production process.

    Bottom Line

    Now that you know an exhaustive answer to a question “What is an essay?”, you can start working on your paper. This term has a deep history which started in the 1500s. However, the popularity of essay writing only increases, while a diversity of formats provides a wide field for activity. If you have to work on essay, you’ll need to focus on a subject and requirements to present an excellent piece.


    Janelle Harris

    Written by:

    Janelle Harris

    Janelle Harris is a Colorado-based writer with over eleven years of academic writing experience. She graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with an MBA degree. Janelle is a passionate expert who believes that assignment instructions must always be impeccably followed.

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