Types of Essays
The Expository Essay. The function of the expository essay is to explain, or to acquaint your reader with a body of knowledge. By explaining a topic to the reader, you are demonstrating your own knowledge.
For example, if you are asked to write an essay about witchcraft, you decide what you plan to concentrate on, create a paragraph structure, anddescribe the process step by step. An essay becomes more complicated when a position has to be defended, as in a persuasive essay.
The Persuasive Essay. In the persuasive essay, you must defend your side of an argument. You are no longer merely showing, you are convincing.
The persuasive essay must choose a side, make a case for it, consider and refute alternative arguments, and prove to theundecided reader that the opinion it presents is the best one. You must be aware of other sides and be fair to them; dismissing them completely will weaken your own argument.
It is always best to take a side that you believe in, preferably with the most supporting evidence. It can often be educational to adopt a different position from what you might normally choose (debating requires this kind offlexibility).
The Informal Essay. The informal essay is written mainly for enjoyment. This is not to say that it cannot be informative or persuasive; however, it is less a formal statement than a relaxed expression of opinion, observation, humor or pleasure. A good informal essay has a relaxed style but retains a strong structure, though that structure may be less rigid than in a formal paper.The informal essay tends to be more personal than the formal, even though both may express subjective opinions. In a formal essay the writer is a silent presence behind the words, while in an informal essay the writer is speaking directly to the reader in a conversational style. If you are writing informally, try to maintain a sense of your own personality. Do not worry about sounding academic,but avoid sloppiness.
The Review. A review may be either formal or informal, depending on the context. Its goal is to evaluate a work, which implies that the reviewer's personal opinion plays a significant role in the process. However, a certain objective standard needs to be maintained and, as in a persuasive essay, your assertions need to be proved.
The formality of the review will bedetermined by how much of the essay is analysis, how much is summary, and how much is your reaction to the work you are reviewing. A more formal review will not only discuss the work on its own merits but also place it in context. Newspapers and popular magazines tend to review in terms of finance: is this record or film worth spending money on? Critical journals will attempt to determine whether a newnovel or play has achieved something new and significant. A good review will discuss both the qualities and the importance of a given work.
The Research Essay. The research essay leads you into the works of others and asks you to compare their thoughts with your own. Writing a research paper involves going to source material and synthesizing what you learn from it with your own ideas. You mustfind texts on the subject and use them to support the topic you have been given to explore. Because it is easy to become lost in a wilderness of outside material, you must take particular care to narrow your topic.
The greatest danger inherent in the research essay is plagiarism. If your paper consists of a string of quotations or paraphrases with little input of your own, you are not synthesizingbut copying, and you should expect a low grade. If any of the borrowings are unacknowledged, you are plagiarizing, and the penalties are severe. The pages on Quotations give information on how to use secondary sources properly, and the one on Works Cited and Bibliography has instructions for documenting your sources.
The Literary Essay. In the literary essay, you are exploring the meaning and...