Two Major Types Of Essays

3 Types of Essays Are Models for Professional Writing Forms

By Mark Nichol

The three types of essay most commonly assigned in school — the narrative essay, the persuasive essay, and the expository essay — conveniently correspond to those writing forms most frequently published online and in print. Your experience with these prose forms is ideal preparation for writing for publication.

1. The Narrative Essay

This form, employed when reporting about an event or an incident, describing an experience, or telling a story, is the basic mode in journalistic writing.

Practice in relating what happened when you witnessed an occurrence, or writing about what you were told by someone who witnessed it, is good training for becoming a newspaper reporter. Writing your recollections of something that happened to you is the basis of travel writing and similar content.

Meanwhile, effective storytelling is an essential skill for feature writing, which — as opposed to reporting, which is event driven — focuses on a person, a place, or a thing, such as a company or an organization. (Travel writing, actually, is a hybrid of all three forms of essay writing.) Many magazine articles, for example, and a number of nonfiction books, are basically profiles of one of these types of entities, and fiction writing, of course, is a form of narrative, albeit one that is invented or based on a real-life subject.

2. The Persuasive Essay

In this type of essay, the writer attempts to convince readers to agree with an opinion. In a traditional persuasive essay, the writer states the essay’s topic and organizational scheme clearly and concisely, then emphasizes and clarifies the topic’s significance by briefly mentioning the current event or recent publication, for example, that prompted the writer to discuss the topic. The rest of the piece consists of the writer’s argument in favor or in criticism of a position.

This persuasion can take the form of a scholarly critique or a review of a creative effort such as a live or recorded performance (for example, a music album) or a work in some medium (a film, for instance). In either case, the writer begins with a thesis, or statement to be proven, summarizes the position (or the plot or theme of a work of art), and provides further detail as necessary to amplify the essay’s points.

An essential component of a formal persuasive essay is a balanced discussion of an opposing viewpoint, while an informal review might include a mention of what an artist was attempting to accomplish by performing or creating and, for the sake of courtesy, could refer to how the artist succeeded in part even if the reviewer believes that the work is ultimately unsatisfactory.

Persuasive essays, like narrative essays, can be submitted for publication. Guest editorials in newspapers and magazines, reviews in the art sections of periodicals or on entertainment-oriented Web sites, or position statements for nonprofit organizations or political lobbying groups are all forms of persuasive writing that publishers of this content will pay for.

3. The Expository Essay

Expository writing can take the form of a how-to manual or other form of instruction, an explanation of a natural or technological process (an outline of the evaporation cycle, for example, or how to rebuild a car engine), a comparison of two similar subjects — though this form overlaps with the persuasive essay — or a discursion on a historical event or on future possibilities.

This last variation also has elements in common with narrative or persuasive writing, and in a sense, none of these types of writing is entirely exclusive. Therefore, if you, like almost all current or former students, have had experience with these forms of essay writing, you’ve already been trained (and, hopefully, coached) in how to write professionally.

And if you already do so, be confident that you can easily apply your skill in one form to taking on another: If you write position papers, you have no excuse not to move into instructional writing, if that’s what you want to do. Similarly, if you make a living explaining things in writing, don’t hesitate to explore fiction or nonfiction narrative writing if it appeals to you.

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5 Responses to “3 Types of Essays Are Models for Professional Writing Forms”

  • Urikee Tjazapi (Namibia)

    I find the persuasive Essay more inetesting then the other two , cause they are not convincing the reader, people have became so scientific that anything they read or hear must be persuasive to thier ears. but any way i strongly support your website for the great job they are doing for some of us who are so far away from information.

    Richard

  • Rejetta McDaniel

    I really appriciate this website. i have learned some ensitefull writing information. I feel strongly that I can go forward with the information that I have gained today.

  • Francisco Fernandes (Angola)

    I’ve been learning so much from you. Many people who got some skills like mechanics are ileterate people, essencially in my continente, so that they would provide expository essays to drivers. Sorry!… In my country capital city you find full of broken cars.

  • Terry A McNeil

    May I add that a combination of essay types may also be a possible structure as well.

    Terry

  • Rebecca

    Thanks for the great information on essays. I like narrative essays because you’re telling a story. It seems more fun to write than the other two types of essays.

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Types of Essays: End the Confusion

Effectively writing different types of essays has become critical to academic success. Essay writing is a common school assignment, a part of standardized tests, and a requirement on college applications. Often on tests, choosing the correct type of essay to write in response to a writing prompt is key to getting the question right. Clearly, students can’t afford to remain confused about types of essays.

There are over a dozen types of essays, so it’s easy to get confused. However, rest assured, the number is actually more manageable. Essentially there are four major types of essays, with the variations making up the remainder.

Four Major Types of Essays
Distinguishing between types of essays is simply a matter of determining the writer’s goal. Does the writer want to tell about a personal experience, describe something, explain an issue, or convince the reader to accept a certain viewpoint? The four major types of essays address these purposes:

1. Narrative Essays: Telling a Story
In a narrative essay, the writer tells a story about a real-life experience. While telling a story may sound easy to do, the narrative essay challenges students to think and write about themselves. When writing a narrative essay, writers should try to involve the reader by making the story as vivid as possible. The fact that narrative essays are usually written in the first person helps engage the reader. “I” sentences give readers a feeling of being part of the story. A well-crafted narrative essay will also build towards drawing a conclusion or making a personal statement.

2. Descriptive Essays: Painting a Picture
A cousin of the narrative essay, a descriptive essay paints a picture with words. A writer might describe a person, place, object, or even memory of special significance. However, this type of essay is not description for description’s sake. The descriptive essay strives to communicate a deeper meaning through the description. In a descriptive essay, the writer should show, not tell, through the use of colorful words and sensory details. The best descriptive essays appeal to the reader’s emotions, with a result that is highly evocative.

3. Expository Essays: Just the Facts
The expository essay is an informative piece of writing that presents a balanced analysis of a topic. In an expository essay, the writer explains or defines a topic, using facts, statistics, and examples. Expository writing encompasses a wide range of essay variations, such as the comparison and contrast essay, the cause and effect essay, and the “how to” or process essay. Because expository essays are based on facts and not personal feelings, writers don’t reveal their emotions or write in the first person.

4. Persuasive Essays: Convince Me
While like an expository essay in its presentation of facts, the goal of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or recommendation. The writer must build a case using facts and logic, as well as examples, expert opinion, and sound reasoning. The writer should present all sides of the argument, but must be able to communicate clearly and without equivocation why a certain position is correct.

Learn How to Write Different Types of Essays

Time4Writing essay writing courses offer a highly effective way to learn how to write the types of essays required for school, standardized tests, and college applications. These online writing classes for elementary, middle school, and high school students, break down the writing process into manageable chunks, easily digested by young writers. Students steadily build writing skills and confidence with each online writing course, guided by one-on-one instruction with a dedicated, certified teacher.

In the elementary years, young writers get an introduction to essay writing through two courses designed to bring excitement and enjoyment to the writing process. Narrative Writing and Informative Writing take young writers on an animal-filled adventure to beginning essay writing. Our middle school online writing courses, Welcome to the Essay and Advanced Essay, teach students the fundamentals of writing well-constructed essays. The high school online writing class, Exciting Essay Writing, focuses in depth on the essay writing process with preparation for college as the goal. The online writing classes for kids also cover how to interpret essay writing prompts in testing situations. Read what parents are saying about their children’s writing progress in Time4Writing’s online writing courses.


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