Genre tips

#AtoZChallenge: Genres–Informal Essay

The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 articles on a themed topic. It’s supposed to be every day except Sundays during the month of April but I find that too busy and decided to post mine ‘about’ once a month. Yes, it’ll take me a couple of years. Sigh.

My topic, like the last three times, is writing genres.

This genre:

Informal Essay


written for pleasure to help organize thoughts on a topic, to reflect on readings, to express different points of view. Also known as ‘personal essay’ and ‘familiar essay’.

Tipsa to z

  • These are short writings curated by theme.
  • This is often about personal experience but not always.
  • The format is traditional–introduction, body, and concluding paragraphs–but flexible.
  • It may be fiction but still follows general informal essay rules.
  • It may be reflective rather than informational.
  • Can be any length though they do tend to be shorter than longer.
  • By their nature, they don’t have to be published in a traditional book. Any method of publishing is fine as long as it collects the themed essays into one easy-to-access spot. Andrew at Andrew’s View of the Week suggested informational informal blogs
  • Be well familiar with your topic.
  • Writing should show your personality and attitudes.
  • An example of topics:
    • The Best Journey of My Life
    • The Point in My Life Where I Would Start Over
    • The Perfect Woman/Man, Marriage and Divorce
    • My Religion
    • The Celebrities Give Us Bad/Good Examples
    • Reincarnation
    • The “Delights” of Our School Cafeteria


I confess, I struggled with examples of this genre. Any additional ideas?

  1. Libre Paley by Libre
  2. Nature Tails by Gabychops
  3. Essays of E.B. White by E.B. White
  4. Essays of Virginia Woolf by Virginia Woolf
  5. Franklin as a Chess Player by Anonymous
  6. Portraits and Observations by Truman Capote

BTW: If the book you’ve written fits into any of these genres, let me know in the comments and I’ll include you, the book title, and where to purchase it.

Click for complete list of these 26 genres

Click for a complete list of all genres I’ve written about

More I 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, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021. 


71 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: Genres–Informal Essay

  1. This is a favorite genre for me to read and write. I am more trained to write in the 1500-2500 word category :)… I would throw in David Sedaris, the non-fiction of Edward Abbey and some of Wendell Berry, Rick Bragg, among others. It seems to be a great genre for writing about nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t think of too many examples either, but I used to write what I called personal essays back in the day when I was also writing a lot of short fiction. I was fortunate to find homes for them in small press publications, which reminds me, the Chicken Soup series (where I had an essay published years ago) is all about personal essays, as far as I recall.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think a lot of my “I” pieces/stories on my blog would be called personal essay. Your description is so helpful. So, as I read them, I guess my new book Flashes of Life, that contains personal stories – short 1-2 pages – about a personal experience in each one would be called a book of informal essays!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Are these the kind of essays that are required as part of applications for colleges in the US? As you know, I grew up elsewhere and never really understood what exactly an essay is. Apparently, there are different kinds… I’m trying to relate to what it would be in Belgium when I was a student.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know I’ve written some blog posts that would fit into this category. I think your example, “The Point in My Life Where I Would Start Over,” would be interesting, but I never could write it because it implies that the writer is dissatisfied with everything in his/her life. A topic I have considered writing about along the same lines is “Things I Wish I Could Do-Over.”

    Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve sometimes considered taking (what I consider to be) the best posts from my own blog and reediting them for a collection of published essays. I treat every post I write with the same seriousness I invest in my long-form fiction.


  6. Hi Jacqui – I think you’ll find there are lots … I know I’ve a few here … George Orwell’s spring to mind – I expect I’ll find others by scanning my books … but for now Orwell will have to do. Looking forward to seeing others’ ideas – great genre though – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

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