Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Essay

A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic. This year, I’ll be covering writing genres.

Today’s genre:

atoz-eEssay Genre


Essay writing refers to a short written piece that can be either expository, descriptive, argumentative, or narrative.

Tipsa to z

  1. Essays are shorter pieces of writing often for the purpose of honing writing skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition.
  2. Be concise.
  3. Be clear in your direction and intent.
  4. Be deliberate and interesting.
  5. Be formal or informal, depending upon your voice.
  6. Draw conclusions based on the evidence presented.
  7. Prepare an outline of your ideas.
  8. Answer the question.
  9. Include a conclusion that summarizes your argument.
  10. Build your vocabulary so you know the right pithy word for your discussion.
  11. “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell” (from Carl Sandburg)

Popular Books

  1. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
  2. An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus
  3. The White Negro by Norman Mailer
  4. Notes on ‘Camp’ by Susan Sontag
  5. The Search for Marvin Gardens by John McPhee
  6. The Fourth State of Matter by Jo Ann Beard
  7. The Soul of a Tiger by Edward Hoagland
  8. Television and US Fiction by David Foster
  9. The Temple of Learning by Benjamin Franklin
  10. Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Click for complete list of genres

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for May 2017. Click to follow its progress.

46 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Essay

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    • Malthus, Locke and Payne fit classically into school curricula (history, economics). The others fit better with philosophy and buttressing opinions. As a Grade 8/9 teacher, I’d probably suggest the early ones. They will be relevant through student lives.


  4. Essays always remind me of our English teacher in high school, an old Irish gentleman. 40 out of 100 marks in the English test were for the essay. Conventional teachers would give anywhere from 0 to 40 on the essay section. But this gentleman, if he did not like an essay, would give anywhere between 0 and minus 40. It was against the rule-book but nobody could argue with him. Hopefully our language skills improved as a result 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember being saddled with essay requirements in school and was happy to leave them behind once I’d graduated. Carl Sandburg’s statement is brilliant, showing how creative he could be with what I consider a relatively boring genre. You did a terrific job researching this one, Jacqui.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All the books of essays I’ve read have been in my mother tongue, can’t remember reading a book of essays in English, which is beyond strange considering I’ve never learnt Bengali in school. The last essays I’ve read were at an online poetry course – close readings of some modern poetry. Thanks as always for the book recos.


    Liked by 1 person

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