If it is just any old essay, you are probably ready to write right now. If it is a good essay that you want to write you may have to learn a few tips and tricks. But if it is a great essay that you want to create, then you will have to try and emulate the great masters of the art. This does not mean that you practically copy them. But if you try to write the way they do, in time you too will begin to write like a great master. Essays are small pieces of non-fictional writing. It was used as a means of expressing personal opinions on a specific subject.
Such non-fictional writing was first used by the French writer Montaigne in 1580 and then by the English philosopher â€“ poet Francis Bacon in 1597. Since then such short pieces of literature have become an intrinsic part of journalism and of newspapers.
Essayists of the later half of the 17th century brought greater freedom to the genre of short non-fiction. But this form of writing became even more popular with the growth in the popularity of periodicals during the 18th century. The great essayists of that period were Joseph Addison and Irish Richard Steele. Later writers like Samuel Johnson and Oliver Goldsmith became popular. In North America Benjamin Franklin became a noted essayist.
During the 19th century English writers Charles Lamb, Leigh Hunt, William Hazlitt, and Thomas De Quincey and French writers C. A. Sainte-Beuve came to prominence as essayists. During the same period in the United States Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau were the better known writers. It was in this period that short non- fiction came to be used as a tool for criticism. The better known critics of that time were William Hazlitt, Matthew Arnold and Edmund Gosse. Essayist Thomas Macaulay was known for his vigorous tone.
The great essayists of yesteryears are a contrast to the essayists of today. The essayists of then had a more formal style. Yet reading them is a learning experience that is intrinsic for every aspiring writer. It may come as a surprise to readers who are new to these writers. Each one has a style that is so individualistic that even if the name of the author was not prefixed to their works it was possible to guess the writer.
Modern essayists were mostly narrative or descriptive writers. Arnold Bennett and Morgan Forster are just a couple of the better known modern writers. Kimberly Allers, Stanley Bing, Katrina Brooker and James Wolcott are some of the other writers worth reading. These writers have unshackled themselves from rules and form.
An essay can have several purposes. Decide what purpose your essay must serve. There are several types of essays. See what style is best suited to your purpose and write essay in that style. Writing like the masters is going to take a while. But in the mean time if you follow a few simple steps and keep to the basics you will have a reasonably good essay. You will find that if you stick by the rules the essay gets written more or less by itself.