The more poetry I write, the more I realize that the craft of writing is the same for poetry as it is writing an essay, an article, a blog, a short story or a novel. The same tools are available. However, each has its unique personality. I was recently asked to review an essay, a genre of writing I know little about. College kids write them all of the time, well I was in college 59 years ago and I don't remember ever writing an essay. So I went googling.
An essay "is a written argument, readable in one sitting in which some idea is developed and supported." Gordon Harvey, Assistant Director, Harvard Exploratory Writing Program.
OK so here are the primary elements of the Essay:
- it is written
- it is an argument, The idea should be true but arguable, not obviously true.
- it is readable in one sitting
- an idea is developed. The idea must be limited enough that it can be argued and supported in a short composition.
- the idea is supported through exploration and documentation
- the essay begins with the motivation behind the idea, the why are we writing.
- exploring the topic or idea requires us to contemplate the alternatives to our view.
- the purpose of the essay is to convince, using honed writing skills as well as evidence. The evidence must be concrete and explicitly connected to the topic.
- the progress of the essay should be fluid and connected.
- there should be a final summary.
Clearly this is a different animal from writing poetry but we might find ourselves compelled to write an essay someday and now we have a guide.
Keep writing, ~~Tink
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