How to Write an Informal Essay

How to Write an Informal Essay

An informal essay is one that you write for pleasure, to describe something that has happened to you, or just to recount some kind of story, whether real or fictionalized.  Because you are generally talking about a series of connected events in an informal essay, there are various techniques you can use in the writing to bring about a good reaction in the reader.  Ideally, the reader should enjoy reading about your topic, and the informal report should be entertaining as well as possibly provide some food for thought.  

When writing informal essays, decide what kind of time structure you are going to use.  The easiest way to handle an informal essay is with a straightforward or chronological time structure.  This just means that you start at the beginning and end at the end, going through the moments of the story one at a time as they happened.  Other kinds of structures that you can use for an informal essay include starting out with the ending, or jumping around in time to connect events according to people who were involved or other ways in which specific events were similar.  If you choose to go with an unusual way of recounting the story by jumping around in time, there should probably be some kind of reason for doing so, such as to illustrate a particular point in steps by showing examples of what you mean to convince the reader of and finishing with the most striking or persuasive example that you can think of from the story.  An informal essay can also be written in this style in order to be more entertaining—by saving information until the end that changes the effect of what has been written before, and demonstrating during the body of the informal article that some kind of twist might be coming through the use of foreshadowing, you can instill a sense of suspense in the reader and make your story more interesting and engaging.  Remember that you do not have to talk about everything that happened to make a good informal essay: time compression is a technique commonly used in the informal essay which involves leaving out the details that only take up the reader's time and do not significantly propel the story forward.  Make sure that every detail which you choose to include is there for a reason and helps make your informal essay a better read.

Beyond the overall structure of the informal essay, a good sense of style is also important in keeping things entertaining for the reader.  Often it is best to try to write in your own tone of voice—tell the story essentially as if you were telling it out loud to some of your friends.  Use a friendly, conversational tone.  If the story that you are telling is one which is meant to be scary or humorous or suspenseful, you can adopt a storytelling tone which helps you to get across that kind of emotion.  With a good structure and appropriate style, your informal report should be a hit!

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