General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

What makes an essay?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) October 19th, 2010

Exactly what criteria must a piece of writing meet in order to be considered an essay?

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14 Answers

MissA's avatar

Selecting a topic and writing about it is
pretty much an essay. It doesn’t need to
be hard-hitting…just factual and,
hopefully, interesting.

weeveeship's avatar

Thesis and analysis. The analysis part could be as long or as short as you want.

lilaznchikka's avatar

1) select a topic that you would like to write about
2) do either a outline or a brainstorm map
3) do research and analysis
4) write a thesis statement in an introduction (what is a main point of an essay?)
5) write a topic sentence in each paragraph (body paragraphs), involving detailed supports, evidences and arguments.
6) write a re-thesis statement invloving your opinion in a conclusion
7) edit and proofread
8) a final draft

stardust's avatar

1. Introduction – Introduce the topic. Outline the issues to be addressed
2. Main Body – Analysis of the points you’ve introduced above
3. Conclusion – Tie all of your points together

Objectivity is key

xxii's avatar

For me, a great essay is made by good vocabulary and well-constructed sentences, with a little bit of wit thrown in if it’s appropriate. With those ingredients, a good writer can make even the most mundane topic seem interesting.

muppetish's avatar

An essay must have a thesis statement. If there is no thesis, it’s not an essay. It’s one of the few things that ties the various types of papers together. Your paper could be missing an conclusion, lack a fully-fitted introduction, skimp on body paragraphs, but if it has a thesis it is still an essay. A stripped essay, sure, but an essay nonetheless.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

As an example, @muppetish‘s response is a pretty fair example of a thumbnail essay.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@muppetish Anything else it must have? Say you had a piece of writing that had the traditional 5-paragraph structure as well as a thesis, but was written in very flowery language, almost like poetry. Then say someone accused that writing of not actually being an essay. Would you agree, or disagree?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@papayalily that determination would be entirely dependent upon the use of the words, their ability to support the hypothesis and lead logically to the conclusion. I’ve seen “poetic” essays before, and they can be excellent.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Wait, so if you don’t really support your thesis well, it’s not an essay? Am I understanding that right (clarification)?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@papayalily I’m not going to say that any writing that I haven’t seen “is or isn’t” an essay. The thing described may be an attempted essay (an essay at writing an essay, if you’ll forgive the pun), or it may be an ineffective one or it may be “a real essay” but with errors of fact, logic and conclusion that cause it to fail for any number of reasons.

All I’m saying is that @muppetish made a good short description of what an essay is and in general how it should be structured. Execution is up to the writer.

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