What is an informal essay?
The informal essay is written mainly for enjoyment. This is not to say that it cannot be informative or persuasive; however, it is less a formal statement than a relaxed expression of opinion, observation, humour or pleasure. A good informal essay has a relaxed style but retains a strong structure, though that structure may be less rigid than in a formal paper.
The informal essay tends to be more personal than the formal, even though both may express subjective opinions. In a formal essay the writer is a silent presence behind the words, while in an informal essay the writer is speaking directly to the reader in a conversational style. If you are writing informally, try to maintain a sense of your own personality. Do not worry about sounding academic, but avoid sloppiness.
The essay which follows is an opinion piece that was written for The Globe and Mail. The style is therefore journalistic but aimed at a fairly sophisticated readership. Paragraphs are short, as is normal in a newspaper with its narrow columns, and the tone is more conversational than would be appropriate for a formal essay. Notice the clear statement of the thesis, the concrete illustrations in the body of the essay, and the way the conclusion leads to a more general statement of what is perhaps to come in the future.
It is included here both because it is a good example of the essay form and because it explores the kind of problem you will come up against as you try to punctuate your essays correctly.
See: Informal Essay Sample
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