An informal essay, unlike most formal academic essays, puts the writer and maybe even the audience front and center. An informal essay can cover a variety of topics, and it may overlap with other essay types such as the persuasive. How the informal essay is approached will depend on the topic.
Informal Essay Topics
Informal essay topics may be assigned or may be up to the writer. A narrative about some important event in a writer’s life might be the topic for an informal essay. An essay about goals is another common topic for informal college level essay writing. The scope of topics for informal essays is enormous, however, and can range from examining controversial issues to more creative essays that ask the writer to imagine being president for a term or what historical time period would be interesting to visit.
In an informal essay, a writer is more likely to use something called an implied thesis. With an implied thesis, the writer may not include a single statement that tells the main idea of the essay. However, the essay’s main idea will be apparent to the reader either from the beginning or over the course of reading the essay. Even if the paper does not include a thesis statement, the writer should have a clear idea of the essay’s main idea. It’s possible, of course, that the thesis may only be clear to the writer after completing the first draft. When this happens, subsequent drafts can be made with the implied thesis in mind.
An informal essay shares many characteristics with more formal essays. Paragraphs still must be well-organized and focused. If the essay is an informal argument essay, the writer can rely more on opinion and emotion than fact, but those opinions still must be developed and supported. As with all writing, specific examples to illustrate the writer’s points and concrete rather than abstract language will make for a stronger essay.
In some ways, however, an informal essay may differ a great deal from a formal essay. For an informal narrative essay, for example, a writer may use many techniques we associate with fiction including dialogue. There is scope for greater creativity in an informal essay and the personality of the writer can shine through.
Point of View
In formal essay writing, “I” and “you” are rarely if ever used. However, both of these are permissible in informal essay writing. Writers may not only talk about themselves, but they may address readers directly as well. The trick here is to be consistent with point of view. Writers should avoid beginning a sentence with one point of view and changing halfway through. Here’s an example of a sentence that begins in third person (“a person”) and changes to second person (“you”):
A person should be careful about reading up on new flight rules before you board a plane.
Here’s how that sentence could be rewritten so the point of view is consistent:
You should be careful about reading up on new flight rules before you board a plane.
The conclusion for some types of informal essay may differ a bit from more formal essays. If the informal essay is a narrative essay, in which a story is told about the writer’s life, the conclusion should be less about summing up the main points of the essay and more about putting the story in perspective. The writer should discuss what was learned from the incident and place it in context.
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