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Familiar Essay Guide

The world of essays is as vast as the ocean and as varied as the multitude of fish that inhabit its depths. Among the different species of essays, one often overlooks the humble yet captivating, ‘familiar essay.’ Shrouded in simplicity yet marked by profound insight, this essay form deserves a closer look and deeper understanding.

Definition of a Familiar Essay

A familiar essay, as its name suggests, is a form of non-fiction writing that offers an intimate, conversational exploration of a topic. Unlike formal academic essays , where the goal is to make an objective, evidence-based argument, the familiar essay offers a comfortable space to meander through thoughts and feelings, observations and recollections, much like a friendly conversation.

The familiar essay creates a personal relationship between the writer and the reader, using a conversational tone and an informal style. This form celebrates exploring personal experiences, the mundane and the extraordinary, weaving them together to extract broader insights about life and human nature. The objective here isn’t so much to instruct as it is to engage and evoke, to generate a shared understanding and to foster a sense of camaraderie between the writer and the reader.

The Characteristics of a Familiar Essay

What makes an essay ‘familiar’?

The familiar essay might be perceived as the casual counterpart of its more formal siblings in the realm of essay writing. However, it possesses its own unique characteristics that grant it a distinguished place in literature.

  • Informal style: The familiar essay thrives on the element of informality. It is conversational, reminiscent of a friendly chat over a cup of coffee. This style allows a closer connection between the writer and the reader, fostering a relationship characterized by mutual understanding and companionship rather than the traditional didactic dynamic.
  • Personal perspective: The familiar essay is marked by its subjective and personal viewpoint. It is less about objective arguments and more about personal reflections, observations, and insights. The writer’s voice is not only present but is central to the narrative, inviting the reader into their world of thoughts and experiences.
  • Exploration of everyday life or personal experiences: The familiar essay often draws upon the writer’s everyday experiences, providing a fresh perspective on the mundane or ordinary. It embraces the philosophy of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, probing the depths of everyday life to extract nuggets of wisdom and insight.

Comparison to other types of essays

In contrast to formal academic essays that argue a specific thesis with systematic reasoning and supporting evidence, the familiar essay is an exploratory journey where the endpoint is not a foregone conclusion but a discovery. The formal essay is a meticulously planned road trip with its map, milestones, and destination, while the familiar essay is a spontaneous hike through the woods, cherishing the beauty of the unexpected.

Unlike narrative essays that emphasize storytelling or descriptive essays that paint vivid pictures, the familiar essay combines these elements, using anecdotes and vivid imagery to enhance the personal exploration of a topic. It’s less about creating a dramatic arc or painting a detailed picture and more about a meditative stroll through thoughts and experiences.

Importance of the familiar essay in literature and education

The familiar essay holds a crucial place in literature for its unique approach to exploring ideas and fostering a bond with the reader. It brings a refreshing variation in style and perspective amidst more formal genres, embodying the spirit of personal exploration and conversation.

In education, the familiar essay serves as an effective tool to foster critical thinking, reflection, and personal expression among students. Decreasing rigid structures and formal language allows students to engage with their topics on a more personal and meaningful level. It encourages them to see the extraordinary within the ordinary, to develop their unique voice, and to create a meaningful connection with their readers. It’s not merely an exercise in writing; it’s a journey of self-discovery and shared understanding.

Stylistic Elements in a Familiar Essay

Language and tone.

The language and tone of a familiar essay significantly contribute to its effectiveness and appeal. As a writer, paying attention to these aspects is essential to write an engaging and relatable piece.

  • How to keep language informal yet engaging: In a familiar essay, the language should mirror that of an intimate conversation with a close friend. It should be informal but not lax; relaxed but not sloppy. To keep it engaging, avoid jargon or overly complex language. Instead, use active voice, vivid descriptions, and a sprinkle of figurative language to create a conversational yet stimulating narrative. Remember, informality should not compromise clarity or precision.
  • Balancing humor and seriousness: A familiar essay is like a well-brewed cup of coffee – a balance of bitter and sweet. While the conversational tone allows room for humor and wit, it should not overshadow the depth or significance of the topic. Too much humor may risk trivializing the subject, while an overly serious tone might make the essay ‘dry.’ Strive for a balance where humor acts as a catalyst, making the serious parts more digestible and impactful.

Use of Personal Anecdotes

Personal anecdotes are the lifeblood of a familiar essay. They bring color and life to abstract ideas, making them more tangible and relatable.

  • Choosing relevant anecdotes: While it might be tempting to include any interesting anecdote, relevance is key. Your anecdotes should serve a purpose – illuminating your topic, highlighting your insights, or revealing your thought process. If an anecdote doesn’t contribute to these objectives, it might be best left out.
  • Effectively integrating anecdotes into the essay: Anecdotes should flow seamlessly into your narrative, like threads woven into a fabric. They should not feel like abrupt interruptions or unnecessary detours. To effectively integrate them, use transitions that connect the anecdote to the main topic. After presenting the anecdote, interpret it, explain its significance, and relate it back to your central theme.

Creating Connections with the Reader

Creating a meaningful connection with the reader is a pivotal aspect of writing a familiar essay.

  • Techniques for engaging the reader: To engage the reader, adopt a conversational tone and use direct address. Rhetorical questions can stimulate the reader’s thoughts and invite their participation in your intellectual journey. Also, remember to vary sentence structure and length to maintain rhythm and interest.
  • Ways to make the reader relate to your experiences or thoughts: Universality is a potent tool for connection. While your experiences are personal, the emotions, insights, or dilemmas they evoke are often universal. Highlight these universal aspects to make your experiences resonate with the reader. Be honest and vulnerable because authenticity breeds connection. The more the reader sees their own experiences and thoughts mirrored in yours, the stronger the bond you will create.

Sample Familiar Essay

Title: “The Art of Waiting: An Exploration of Patience in Everyday Life”

At some point in our lives, we have all been acquainted with the peculiar state of being that I like to call ‘waiting.’ Oh, how well I know it, the twitch of the fingers, the rhythmic tap of the foot, the ticking of the clock that seems to get slower with each passing second. Waiting, in all its various forms, has been an integral part of my life – and I imagine, yours too.

What is it about waiting that we so despise? Why does it feel like a pointless intermission in the grand theatre of life? I’ve often contemplated these questions during my numerous rendezvous with waiting.

Let me take you back to a chilly winter morning a few years ago. The sky was painted with hues of gray, and the air was filled with an expectant silence, the kind that usually precedes a snowfall. There I was, waiting at the bus stop for my ride to work. The bus, much like an elusive lover, was running late, leaving me standing in the bone-chilling cold.

At that moment, frustration was my closest companion. Time, with its ceaseless ebb and flow, seemed to come to a standstill. I found myself spiraling into a pit of impatience, each second on my wristwatch echoing like a loud gong in the theater of my mind.

Just as I was about to surrender to the seemingly infinite loop of waiting, a sudden realization dawned on me. This disdain for waiting, I figured, was not born out of the act itself but rather our perception of it. We view waiting as a barren land, an empty space to be filled, a ‘nothing’ that stands between two ‘somethings.’ But what if, instead, we regarded it as an opportunity?

From that day on, I decided to approach waiting differently. The long lines at the supermarket became a chance to observe the fascinating tapestry of human emotions around me. The occasional delays at the doctor’s office turned into moments of quiet reflection or an opportunity to catch up on reading. Waiting ceased to be a tedious intermission; it transformed into a space teeming with potential, a canvas awaiting the brush strokes of my imagination.

By altering my perspective, I discovered a newfound respect for the art of waiting. It was no longer about passive resignation but active engagement. It became a space for observation, reflection, and growth. It taught me patience, yes, but more than that, it taught me the value of the present moment.

So, dear reader, the next time you find yourself caught in the act of waiting, I invite you to shift your gaze. Look beyond the frustration and boredom, and you might just find a hidden treasure. After all, as the adage goes, ‘good things come to those who wait.’ Or should I say, ‘good things come to those who know how to wait?’

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Familiar Essay: Definition and Writing Recommendations

Familiar Essay Writing

Usually secondary and high school students know nothing about familiar essays because it is considered as a challenging assignment. A familiar essay is focused on one’s own reflection and exploration of a topic such as “Deceiving Oneself” or “Giving Advice”.

What is a Familiar Essay?

Let us define a familiar essay. A familiar essay is a type of nonfiction short story writing in which the author shares a life experience and uses a personal or voice unique to themselves. It is known for being written in an informal manner.

Popular Classic Familiar Essays

  • Death of a Pig, by E.B. White
  • An Apology for Idlers, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • A Piece of Chalk, by G. K.Chesterton
  • The Indian Jugglers, by William Hazlitt
  • Getting Up on Cold Mornings, by Leigh Hunt
  • Imperfect Sympathies, by Charles Lamb

How to Write a Familiar Essay

The familiar essay uses a unique literary device that involves addressing the reader directly as if they were an acquaintance. When executed properly, this keeps the audience interested and engaged as they read the story. As you begin to define a familiar essay writing process, think about how you can frame the narrative in a way that takes into account the needs of the reader. Using the first-person can be effective, although you should first ask your instructor if it is permitted for the assignment.

The good news when it comes to writing a familiar essay is that it is a far easier assignment than a research paper or most other academic work. Rather than requiring you to seek out sources or read up on a topic, all you really have to do is use your imagination. Of course, coming up with familiar essay topics that the reader would find interesting can be a challenge. In addition, if you lack creativity or the ability to find colorful ways to express yourself, you might struggle with this paper. One way to get started is to think about a passion in your life or a memorable event that you think would make for an interesting narrative. Usually casual slang – typically frowned upon in conventional academic writing – is perfectly acceptable. If you can get the reader to laugh or even cry, you have accomplished your goals.

How to Write the Perfect Familiar Essay

Audience and Tone of Writing

While writing a familiar essay, imagine that your audience is one person only. Your reader is educated enough to understand the topic and there is no need to prove additional clarifications or explanations. Think that your audience is enthusiastic to hear your opinion on the topic. You can even interact with the reader by using personal pronouns.

Make a Plan

Even if a familiar essay refers to personal writing, you still need to organize your ideas before writing. You can begin with freewriting and create a paper with all ideas that appear in your mind during several minutes. Do not worry about the content. You will extract the most valuable and significant ideas for your outline, which will further transform into a real essay.

Writing a Familiar Essay

Now it is time to use your outline and create the essay itself. Do not underestimate the importance of creating an outline and following it during the writing stage. Since familiar essays are deeply personal in their nature, students often go off the track and forget about the initial topics they tried to address. One of the easiest ways to write a familiar essay is to produce it at once (in one session). It will help you not to lose the focus.

Usage of Sources

Most of the teachers ask students not to use any references in familiar essays. However, please read carefully your instructions to be sure. If allowed, you can rely on the quote of a famous philosopher to prove your point. However, there is no need to introduce an outside argument because the focus of discussion should be your personal reflection.

Revise Your Paper

Always re-read your familiar essay before submission and revise its content. The reader should have a clear understanding of your personal standpoint. You should check the tone and style of writing. Be sure to get rid of all stylistic inconsistencies. For example, if you begin your essay with an enthusiastic tone, the same should be seen in the concluding paragraph. Check your paper for unity and coherence as well.

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Although the familiar essay does not involve doing outside research or collecting data, it is nonetheless a difficult paper if you have trouble expressing your ideas in an entertaining way. Fortunately, when you are feeling stuck you can always buy a familiar essay from the experts at WeWriteOnline.com!

Buy Custom Essay Papers

Sometimes downloading an example of a familiar essay just will not cut it, especially when your own paper has to reflect on aspects of your life. This is why ordering a high quality custom familiar essay is the perfect solution. But where should you shop for paper? With so many writing services to choose from, it is not always easy to know which one is right for you. Here are a few traits that a reputable writing service should always possess:

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  • The company does not merely send you the same familiar essay examples that they give to all their clients, they provide custom work that cannot be found anywhere else.
  • The company understands the importance of keeping their prices low so that their services are accessible to all students.
  • The company delivers their work by the deadline, even on the tightest of time frames.

When you look at the custom writing company websites, you will find that many of them are poorly written; containing grammar mistakes and typos. If they cannot even get their webpages right, how can they be expected to deliver an essay that gets you an A? Other websites look perfectly fine, but that also is not an automatic sign that they are reputable. Ultimately, it is important to choose the company carefully.

We at WeWriteOnline.com are the company that you can trust. Whether you need a familiar essay, movie review or even a dissertation, we have talented writers to handle all of your academic and professional needs. Every paper that we produce is original and follows your instructions to the letter. You are free to provide us some information about yourself that your writer will then craft into an entertaining, beautifully written familiar essay that keeps the reader’s attention. Alternatively, you can send us the general requirements of the assignment and we will use our creativity and imagination to do the rest! They will craft a purposeful, coherent story that leaves the audience feeling satisfied. Of course, the ultimate judge (your instructor) is sure to give it a high grade.

You never have to worry about plagiarism either. We scan all of our papers through the latest in plagiarism detection technology, guaranteeing one-of-a-kind work that you cannot find anywhere else. We also understand the importance of receiving your assignments on time. After all, receiving an amazing essay does you no good if your professor is not willing to accept it late.

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Guide: How to write a familiar essay

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The  familiar essay  is a type of essay that has fallen by the wayside in most primary and secondary school curricula because it is difficult to write. The familiar essay is a personal reflection on an elevated topic, such as  “people worth knowing,”  or  “How religion informs morality.”

It is similar to a personal essay because the observations are unique to the author and research is not required. However, the familiar essay diverges from the personal essay because of the philosophical nature of the topics.

Tone and Audience

The author of a  familiar essay  writes as if they have an audience consisting of one person. They may even interact with their audience by using “you” or phrases such as “dear reader.” Because of the lofty nature of the topics for a familiar essay, the tone for this type of essay is typically elevated and geared toward an educated reader.

Planning the Essay

Even though the familiar essay is personal in nature, it is important to gather your thoughts before you begin writing. Many professors and instructors recommend freewriting about the topic or clustering as useful activities for planning a familiar essay. From the freewriting activity, the author can then create an outline to use as a general guide for organizing the essay.

Writing the Familiar Essay

As you write, use the outline you created during the planning phase. Working from an outline is important for any essay that is personal in nature because writers have the greatest tendency to ramble or get off topic when they are writing about their observations. Many authors find that writing the familiar essay is easiest if it is written in one session. This helps the writer to stay on track and prevents them from losing their focus.

Most familiar essays do not cite other essays or use references. However, you might make an exception to this rule by discussing a famous author, philosopher, or politician’s point to illuminate your point or to serve as a counterpoint to your assertions. In that instance, you would need to cite the reference.

Revising the Essay

Like other types of essays, the familiar essay should be carefully revised before it is turned in. Pay close attention to the tone of the essay. The tone should remain consistent. For example, if you began the essay with a light-hearted tone, make sure to continue that tone to the end of the essay for consistency. The exception would be if you have good reason to dampen the tone of the essay.

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Familiar Essay Writing: 10 Tips That Will Make Your Work Easier

familiar essay

  • How to structure it?
  • What should you write about?
  • What writing style should you settle on?

If you have to write a familiar essay, and these or other questions are whirling around in your brain, you have come to the right place. Yes, in this article, you will find all the tips to write a high-quality familiar essay on any topic.

Table of Contents

1. Get a Familiar Essay Example to Get You Started

A familiar essay is a very peculiar genre of the creative writing with some characteristics that are not shared by any other essay type. To simplify a bit, it is a short-form nonfiction text primarily characterized by a strong personal touch, a voice of the author’s persona. Normally, no matter what you write about – be it a book you’ve read, the current state of education industry or environmental protection, you are expected to be fully objective and avoid emotionally colored words (and anything else showing your subjectivity). In an informal essay, you don’t have these limitations – if you need to be emotional to demonstrate your unique take on the problem, so be it. In fact, the more personal your style is, the better it is for you – you can be as witty, funny, and quirky as you like.

To better understand what is expected of you, it would be a good idea to read a few examples of familiar essays. This can be quite informative and will give you the better understanding of how you can go about developing your own writing style – the most important prerequisite of a quality familiar essay. Be careful about the place where you get your writing sample – you cannot just visit any online writing service and say “ Write my familiar essay ” – specialists in this kind of work are relatively rare and are not easy to come by.

2. Look at Familiar Essay Topics That Are Acceptable

Another feature of writing familiar essays is the kind of topics that are covered in them. They should not require any professional or specialized knowledge and have universal human appeal – in other words, they should be understandable and relatable for anybody who would read them simply because they are just as human as the essay’s author. Such topics, for example, include:

  • Books Getting Replaced with Digital Sources of Information and What It Means for Every One of Us;
  • Community-Conscious Business: Is It Possible in Current Economic Climate?
  • Is Writing a Doctoral or MBA Dissertation to Obtain a PhD Degree Worth the Trouble One Has to Go for Its Sake?
  • Does History Repeat Itself and Is It a Good Enough Reason to Study It?
  • War on Drugs and Its Connection to Teenage Crime Rates;
  • Security Concerns vs. the Rights of Individuals in the UK;
  • The Most Important Traits Associated with True Leadership.

As you can see, familiar essays can be written about virtually anything – you simply have to avoid topics that require specialized technical knowledge. When choosing what to write about, ask yourself: can it be understood by a person who does not study this subject but has background knowledge of an intelligent, generally well-educated amateur?

3. Use a Proper Familiar Essay Structure

  • The hook – the first sentence or two, aimed at grabbing the reader’s attention and smoothly transferring it to the rest of the paper. It plays a special role in a familiar essay because of its high degree of informality – meaning that you have much more freedom of expression than usual. Let your wit roam free and don’t worry about going out of line – it is a part of the course when it comes to informal essays;
  • The thesis statement. Nothing special about this – it is no different from what it is in any other type of essay, i.e., an explanatory sentence containing the gist of your entire paper in a definite and clear form.

The introduction is followed by body paragraphs and, again, you are free to organize them in any way you like. It is, however, a good idea to follow the usual rules: don’t exceed a limit of one point per paragraph, have logical connections between paragraphs, support your words with viable evidence. However, the familiar essay is a definition of a freeform assignment, so don’t be afraid to make experiments. Introduce a list or two, use narrative elements – in other words, do everything you need to get your point across, without being restricted by any particular format.

4. Talk to Your Reader While Writing a Familiar Essay

A familiar essay, the way it evolved in English literature, is a very personal experience, not just a piece of writing but an informal chat between two people: the writer and the reader. By a reader, we mean not just the grader responsible for reading and evaluating your work, but anybody whom this text will come to hand. So, be personal, address directly to the individual reading your paper, be friendly and don’t try to show yourself as superior to your audience. Demonstrate that your essay is a labour of love, not of pride. Usually familiar essays are written in a way that presupposes the audience of a single reader, which further emphasizes the personal nature of this genre.

5. Use the Simple Language, but Don’t Oversimplify

Your writing should be closer to the everyday speech than in the formal types of essays. But don’t treat this genre’s informality as an excuse to use slang, jargon or rude language. If it is of any help, imagine yourself writing a letter to a good yet somewhat distant friend. Think of how you would report about the latest happenings in your life in such a situation. Then, start writing.

6. Try Freewriting as a Good Method of Preparation

Although familiar essay writing is personal and informal in nature, it doesn’t mean that you should approach working on it haphazardly. Just like with any other kind of writing, it is extremely important to gather your thoughts before you start typing. However, in this case, you may give yourself a certain amount of freedom and start not with a rigid academic plan that looks almost like a thesis proposal, but with freewriting on the general topic you are dealing with.


7. Prepare an Essay Outline

It is especially important if you have to do some research being not very familiar with the essay topic. Having a clear-cut outline before you start working on an essay prevents you from rambling and omitting important points you have intended to mention. Some students resent the idea of writing an informal essay from an outline, but in fact, this stage is even more important in this type of writing than it is for other, more formal essays. The fact is that people are much more prone to steering off the course when they write about something personal in nature. Having a definite plan will help you keep your thoughts collected and cover everything you want but no more. Try it, it will save you a lot of time.

8. Try Finishing Your Work in One Session

time management

9. Use of Some References in Your Familiar Essays

Most familiar essays do without any references at all – they are personal discussions on specific topics, not research assignments. However, you may have been given a task to introduce a certain amount of references in your assignment. Or you can make your own decision to discuss a famous author, and in this case, it will be impossible to avoid using quotations.

10. Don’t Forget to Revise and Proofread

Just like with any other type of academic writing, revising and proofreading are extremely important when it comes to familiar essays. However, in addition to the usual things – checking up on formatting, spelling, grammar, and syntax – here you should pay special attention to the tone of your writing.

  • It shouldn’t be overly dry and academic. Think of the way you would talk about a good acquaintance of yours – eliminate overly complex words and structures, divide longer sentences into shorter ones and so on;
  • It should be consistent. If you begin writing in a light-hearted tone, keep it this way throughout the whole essay – that is, unless you have a very good reason to change the way you speak and a way to demonstrate that you do it intentionally and not as a slip.
  • Give your essay the right emotional vibe. Use informal, sometimes emotional language – the way you would discuss the topic with a living human being, not an abstract audience. At the same time, make sure you are respectful both towards your reader and viewpoints you discuss.

If possible, get an external proofreader – somebody you can trust, somebody who is interested in your success. Ask him/her to give you some feedback on the following aspects of your writing:

  • Logic. Are all points connected to each other in a logical and consistent manner?
  • Style. Is your style consistent throughout the essay? Are there any words or expressions that seem to be out of place?
  • Grammar and syntax. Are there any glaring mistakes you’ve missed during your revision?

Familiar essays are rarely written by college students these days and are considered to be a difficult task. That’s why if you experience difficulties, there is nothing unusual about it – but we hope that these tips will get you through!


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Familiar Essay

Nonfiction:  The Familiar Essay

 The discovery of the essay…

Sir Francis Bacon is generally credited with introducing and popularizing the essay in the English-speaking world. Influenced by the French essays of Michel de Montaigne, who first used the term “essais” (or “attempts”) to describe his prose reflections on commonplace topics and occurrences, Bacon published Essays, Religious Meditations, Places of Persuasion and Dissuasion in 1597.

Understanding the familiar essay…

A familiar essay can be easily described as a merging of the expository essay and the true narrative essay.  The familiar essay is written by the first person but does not tell a story based on plot like the true narrative.  The writer of the familiar essay has an interest, if not passion, in her subject.

“Probably not. In short, familiar essays are somewhere between the personal and the critical essay. According to Anne Fadiman, in an interview from All Things Considered , the familiar essay is “autobiographical, but also about the world”. She also says, in an interview on p owells.com , that “one of its hallmarks of that it is about the author, so it is a subset of the personal essay, but it is also about a subject”.

In the nineteenth century familiar essays were at their height of popularity as a culture of interested readers found the familiar essay entertaining and interesting.  With the advancement of society and the reliance on television and computer, the familiar essay has lost its status as a source of entertainment.

“However, it was in the 19th century – a period of material well-being in England , when there was a leisure class who enjoyed literature, when an education was received by many among the masses – that the familiar essay fully came into its own. The familiar essayist, as Sister Mary Eleanore wrote (1923), ‘is a veritable Jaques upon a mossy bank, who, while he watches the world go jostling its way down the river of life, extracts from its seemingly confused and meaningless tumbling bits of loving wisdom and quaint chuckles of fun . . .” He soothes the pains of the world’s tired travel, and does so through his ability to be whimsical, grave, melancholy, through his love of living and sense of humor over “those ridiculous and pathetic incongruities which are such a necessary part of life.’”

The familiar essay reached its zenith with Charles Lamb . Though living a melancholy and often tragic life, Lamb created in his essays a narrator “in love with this green earth,” – Dan Roche

Anne Fadiman revives the Familiar Essay…

I’ll admit that initially I was a bit thrown by the phrase “familiar essays” on the front of this book. I thought that maybe this was a collection of commonly told fables or something akin to that. I didn’t realize that the familiar essay is a type of essay. In my defense, they are not as common as they used to be. However, I would imagine that I have read some and didn’t even know it. Historically, these essays often had titles like “On Boating” or “On Politics Being a Masculine Arena.” They were meant to be informative, while at the same time highlighting pertinent personal experiences of the author.

Fadiman explains her devotion to the familiar form in the book’s lovely Preface: “Today’s readers encounter plenty of critical essays (more brain than heart) and plenty of personal – very personal – essays (more heart than brain), but not many familiar essays (equal measures of both).”

A typical Fadiman essay begins with an engaging personal anecdote before branching out into the history of the subject in question. As her extensive bibliography indicates, research aplenty goes into each piece. But it’s all so delightful, it’s like eating a meal that is both good for you and delicious.

How to write the familiar essay… I could just soon attempt to explain for you how to fly a kite, but begin with inspiration which serves as the wind of your discussion.

The Introduction :  There is not prescribed set form for the familiar essay, although to begin with an engaging personal anecdote, which serves to introduce the point of your discussion, is effective.  The writer will always benefit from providing an analogy or example to emphasize the opening anecdote.  Like the expository essay, the introduction should conclude with a unifying statement that reveals the thesis statement.  The language of the thesis does not have to be mechanical and straightforward, however, the declaring account should embrace the spirit of the discussion which follows in the body and conclusion.

The Body:  Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, what follows is a combination of opinionated observations supported with facts, testimony or examples/analogies.  The transition statement is often used instead of the conclusive statement in an expository essay because the familiar essay is a blend of personality and formality.

The Conclusion:  Restate your thesis or the spirit of your thesis.  From here, you benefit by fulfilling the point of your discussion—another analogy or excerpt from your tale, that serves to culminate your discussion is appropriate.  Conclude with the lesson of life declaration of your essay.


Extended Essay: Formal vs. Informal Writing

  • Extended Essay- The Basics
  • Step 1. Choose a Subject
  • Step 2. Educate yourself!
  • Using Brainstorming and Mind Maps
  • Identify Keywords
  • Do Background Reading
  • Define Your Topic
  • Conduct Research in a Specific Discipline
  • Step 5. Draft a Research Question
  • Step 6. Create a Timeline
  • Find Articles
  • Find Primary Sources
  • Get Help from Experts
  • Search Engines, Repositories, & Directories
  • Databases and Websites by Subject Area
  • Create an Annotated Bibliography
  • Advice (and Warnings) from the IB
  • Chicago Citation Syle
  • MLA Works Cited & In-Text Citations
  • Step 9. Set Deadlines for Yourself
  • Step 10. Plan a structure for your essay
  • Evaluate & Select: the CRAAP Test
  • Conducting Secondary Research
  • Conducting Primary Research
  • Formal vs. Informal Writing
  • Presentation Requirements
  • Evaluating Your Work

Differences Between Informal and Formal Essays

When writing your extended essay you should use language that is formal and academic in tone.  The chart below gives you some idea of the differences between informal and formal essays. See the box below for examples of the differences in tone in informal and formal essays written on identical topics. A PDF of this chart, and the examples below, is in the box to the right , along with a list of tips for avoiding colloquial writing.

Informal essay (sometimes also called personal or familiar essay)
Author’s viewpoint Usually uses first-person pronoun; directly addresses the reader. Usually uses third-person pronoun.
Subject/content: Sources of evidence Frequently drawn from life of the student and everyday events. More commonly drawn from shared historical events or literature or other forms of knowledge.    
Tone Frequently more personal and subjective; may be ironic, amusing, thoughtful, angry or serious; conversational and casual. Tends to be removed from the subject and appears to be objective; tends to hold emotions in check and express concerns through strong arguments and powerful rhetorical devices.
Structure Appears to be more loosely structured. Follows a structure that focuses on the development of one clear argument at a time to support a clearly stated thesis.
Location of the research purpose/question


May appear anywhere in the essay; may not be explicitly stated. Stated explicitly, generally located in the first or second paragraph of the essay.
Vocabulary Everyday words; slang and colloquialisms; contractions; uses “you” and “I”. Technical words according to subject; no slang or contractions; avoids “you” and “I” (the use of “I” in the introduction and conclusion of an essay is permitted but in the body of the essay is best avoided in order to maintain an academic tone).
Purpose Entertainment; gentle reflection. Presentation of facts and ideas with critical evaluation, arguing a point and analyzing in detail.

Examples of Informal and Formal Tone in Essay Writing

The following examples highlight the differences between formal and informal tone.

Language B - English


I decided to write an extended essay on how hip-hop works as protest of the lower classes because I think the music is cool and really gets people dancing, inspiring those people who wouldn’t normally think there’s any point in being against anything to listen to the message. Being an enthusiastic hip-hop dancer myself, I really wanted to find out some more about this.


This extended essay on how the lyrics of hip-hop developed as a form of protest against a society segregating the working classes is based on the premise of the music having a distinct and energizing rhythm that really inspires people thereby reaching out to audiences who wouldn’t normally believe in protest, let alone speak out in public. Thus, the music becomes a vehicle for words of protest that can and indeed have changed the world. My own experience with dancing hip-hop at a relatively advanced and skilled level fuelled my desire to research this topic in more depth.


Biology has always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was searching for frogspawn in my grandparent’s pond as a four-year-old and annoying my mum with a battery of jam jars on the window sill in which I was trying to raise tadpoles I have been fascinated with observing nature in detail. Even in English, reading Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney, I found myself thinking up an experiment to do with dragonflies and bluebottles. I have a fish tank at home with three different sorts of fish. I’ve noticed that they all respond differently when I feed them. I’m wondering what else is different in their behavior so, in this extended essay, I’m going to find out how they react to light.


This extended essay is focused on investigating the phototaxic responses of three different species of fish that occupy different areas of an aquarium: danios ( ), which group near the surface of the water, black skirt tetra ( ), which swim in the middle of the tank, and kuhli loach ( ), which swim near the bottom of the tank. It is anticipated that they will respond differently to light according to their niche within the tank.

The outcome of my investigation could inform the feeding strategy used for different fish as well as highlight the adaptive nature of toxic response in fish. In addition, this essay may help to inspire some fellow students to view their fish with new interest, and consider their own strategies in populating a fish tank.


When I go into a supermarket there is always gentle background music playing, although in the clothes shops I like it is always loud pop music. At breakfast my dad likes to listen to Rossini string sonatas, while my little brother has heavy metal on his iPod and will head-bang his way through a bowl of cornflakes. My extended essay is trying to research why people rely on certain types of music to influence their mood and how music is used in this way for advertising. I am not sure if there is a connection and whether the music does affect, for example, people’s shopping habits, but it will be interesting to try to find out, especially to see if different peoples’ brains are wired differently when it comes to music.


This extended essay intends to investigate whether there is a causal relationship between music listened to and the mood of individuals. Additionally, it will seek to explore whether this relationship is used in advertising to encourage people to spend money.

  • Formal vs. Informal Writing A chart giving the differences between informal and formal essays in seven areas (author's viewpoint; subject/content (sources of evidence); tone; structure; location of the research question; vocabulary; and purpose. Also included are examples comparing informal and formal writing for essays in English, biology, and psychology.
  • How to Avoid Colloquial (Informal) Writing While it may be acceptable in friendly e-mails and chat rooms, excessive colloquialism is a major pitfall that lowers the quality of formal written text. Here are some steps/tips that you can follow to help improve your overall writing.
  • << Previous: Plagiarism
  • Next: Presentation Requirements >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 12, 2024 4:49 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.westsoundacademy.org/ee


Definition and Recommendations on Writing a Familiar Essay

Definition and Recommendations on Writing a Familiar Essay photo

The  familiar essay  is mostly given as home task in primary and secondary school curricula. This type of essay is indeed difficult to write. If you have to deal with a familiar essay, writing a personal reflection on a certain topic will be your main task. Another difficulty in the way of writing this essay is the following: you can easily fall into confusion, because the familiar essay in pretty similar to the personal essay. The observations are unique to the author and research is not required. This challenging assignment is often unfamiliar to the pupils. It is considered as a pretty hard and challenging writing because you have to focus on your own reflection and exploration of a topic. There is no way in which you can rely on facts and other investigators in this field. Don’t worry though, you can write it with our help. Say to yourself: «I can write my essay  nicely and fast! »

Here are some pieces of advice that will make your essay look more elevated:

  • When writing your essay, imagine that your audience consists of only one person. Your reader is enthusiastic about hearing your opinion on the topic. In this type of essay, there is no need for adding different explanations in order to prove your point of view. You only need to interact with one imaginary reader. You can even try to use personal pronouns.
  • Organize your ideas before writing by making a plan. Familiar or not, it is still a piece of writing that has to be well-structured.
  • Do not underestimate an outline. it is an important part of essay writing. Make sure to follow it during the writing process. The problem is that students often go off the track and forget about the initial topics they tried to address. That is why it will be good to write your familiar essay in one sitting.
  • In familiar essays, teachers will ask you not to use any references or sources. However, you can rely on one quote to prove your point.

10 tips for your familiar essay

We can assure you – the progress will be visible with these tips! Use them to create a nice familiar essay, better than your classmate’s.

– Read the examples of another familiar essay to understand the process. A familiar essay is a pretty peculiar genre of creative writing. Hence, some characteristics might be different than in any other essay type. It would be a good idea to read the few examples of familiar essays to better understand what is expected of you.

– The topic is very important. Topics should not require any professional or specialized knowledge. Try to make them understandable and relatable. Familiar essays can be written about anything – you just have to avoid the issues that require specialized technical knowledge. Make your essay familiar.

– You should use a proper familiar essay structure. Familiar essay is not extremely different from any other type of paper. Usually, an introduction comes first. It consists of the so-called hook (the first sentence or two, aimed at grabbing the reader’s attention) and the thesis statement.

– Remember to talk to your reader while writing a familiar essay. You can use simple language, but remember not to oversimplify. Slang, jargon or rude language will not be acceptable.

– Freewriting can help you, as it is a good method of preparation. Simply sit down, take a sheet of paper and write everything that comes to your head. Free your mind. Don’t worry if the quality of writing is low, you can later improve it.

– Essay outline preparation. If you have to do some research and aren’t very familiar with the essay topic – do the outline. Having a clear-cut prevents you from rambling and omitting important points you need to mention.

– References in your familiar essay. It is a good idea to add them. It will not be a mistake to show your own decision in order to discuss a famous author, and in this case, it will be impossible not to use some quotations.


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How to Use familiar in a Sentence

  • She spoke in a familiar way about her past.
  • She has become a familiar figure in the world of politics.
  • They felt the waiter was being overly familiar .
  • The essay covers familiar ground.

Some of these examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'familiar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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Jack Tiech standing in a driveway.

The Kidnapping I Can’t Escape

Fifty years ago, my father’s friend was taken at gunpoint on Long Island. Then he went on with his life — and that’s the part that haunts me.

Jack Teich in the driveway of his home in Westchester County, N.Y., in June. Credit... Dina Litovsky for The New York Times

Supported by

Taffy Brodesser-Akner

By Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer for the magazine. The kidnapping that begins her new novel, “Long Island Compromise,” was inspired by the Jack Teich kidnapping in 1974.

  • Published July 7, 2024 Updated July 12, 2024

On Nov. 12, 1974, my father’s childhood friend Jack Teich was kidnapped out of his driveway in the nicest part of the nicest part of Long Island. He was arriving home from work at Acme Steel Partition and Door, the steel-fabrication company that his family owned in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was 6:40 p.m., and it was raining. He pulled up to the house and killed the engine of his Lincoln coupe but saw that the white exterior of the garage door still glowed even though he had turned his high beams off. He twisted around in the driver’s seat and saw another car in the driveway, its headlights blinding him.

Listen to this article, read by Gabra Zackman

“Excuse me,” a man called. He was now outside the car, but Jack could see him only in silhouette because of how bright the headlights were. “You know how to get to Northern Boulevard?”

Jack stepped out of his car. He was surprised. His street was so far off the commuter path that it would be hard to get lost and end up there looking for Northern Boulevard. In fact, when Jack saw headlights in his rearview mirror as he approached the house that night, he thought how strange and rare it was to be on that same road with anyone.

“Excuse me?” Jack asked.

But now the man was approaching. As he grew closer, Jack saw that he was wearing a ski mask and holding a long-barrel silver pistol. That’s when he also saw a second man, taller, this one holding a shotgun and also wearing a ski mask.

“You’re coming with us,” the first man said. “Get over here or we’re going to blow your head off!”

Jack froze for a moment. He considered running behind the house, into the thicket of trees there, but he thought about his wife, Janet, and his two small sons, 6-year-old Marc and 2-year-old Michael, who were in the house right then, how running might put them in danger.

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Definition and Examples of Formal Essays

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In composition studies , a formal essay is a short, relatively impersonal composition in prose . Also known as an impersonal essay or a Baconian essay (after the writings of England's first major essayist , Francis Bacon ).

In contrast to the familiar or personal essay , the formal essay is typically used for the discussion of ideas. Its rhetorical purpose is generally to inform or persuade.

"The technique of the formal essay," says William Harmon, "is now practically identical with that of all factual or theoretical prose in which literary effect is secondary" ( A Handbook to Literature , 2011).

Examples and Observations

  • "' Formal' essays were introduced in England by [Francis] Bacon , who adopted Montaigne's term. Here the style is objective, compressed, aphoristic , wholly serious. . . . In modern times, the formal essay has become more diversified in subject matter, style , and length until it is better known by such names as article , dissertation, or thesis, and factual presentation rather than style or literary effect has become the basic aim." (L. H. Hornstein, G. D. Percy, and C. S. Brown, The Reader's Companion to World Literature , 2nd ed. Signet, 2002)
  • A Blurred Distinction Between Formal Essays and Informal Essays "Francis Bacon and his followers had a more impersonal, magisterial, law-giving, and didactic manner than the skeptical Montaigne. But they should not be viewed as opposites; the distinction between formal and informal essay can be overdone, and most great essayists have crossed the line frequently. The difference is one of degree. [William] Hazlitt was essentially a personal essayist , though he wrote theater and art criticism; Matthew Arnold and John Ruskin were essentially formal essayists , though they may have tried a personal essay once in a while. Personality creeps into the most impersonal of writers: it is difficult to read Bacon on friendship or having children , for instance, without suspecting he is talking about autobiographical matters. Dr. Johnson was probably more a moral essayist than a personal one, though his work has such an individual, idiosyncratic stamp that I have persuaded myself to place him in the personal camp. George Orwell seems split fifty-fifty, an essay hermaphrodite who always kept one eye on the subjective and one on the political. . . . "The Victorian era saw a turn toward the formal essay , the so-called essay of ideas written by [Thomas] Carlyle, Ruskin, [Matthew] Arnold, Macaulay, Pater. Between Lamb and Beerbohm there was scarcely an English personal essay, with the exception of those by Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas De Quincey . . . ." (Phillip Lopate, Introduction to The Art of the Personal Essay . Anchor, 1994)
  • Voice in the Impersonal Essay "[E]ven when 'I' plays no part in the language of an essay, a firm sense of personality can warm the voice of the impersonal essay narrator . When we read Dr. [Samuel] Johnson and Edmund Wilson and Lionel Trilling , for instance, we feel that we know them as fully developed characters in their own essays, regardless of their not referring personally to themselves." (Phillip Lopate, "Writing Personal Essays: On the Necessity of Turning Oneself Into a Character." Writing Creative Nonfiction , ed. by Carolyn Forché and Philip Gerard. Writer's Digest Books, 2001)
  • Crafting the Impersonal "I" "Unlike the exploratory 'self' of Montaigne, Francis Bacon's impersonal 'I' appears already to have arrived. Even in the comparatively expansive third edition of the Essays , Bacon provides few explicit hints as to either the character of the textual voice or the role of the expected reader. . . . [T]he absence of a felt 'self' on the page is a deliberate rhetorical effect: the effort to efface voice in the 'impersonal' essay is a way of evoking a distant but authoritative persona . . . . In the formal essay , invisibility must be forged." (Richard Nordquist, "Voices of the Modern Essay." University of Georgia, 1991)
  • "Of Studies" by Francis Bacon
  • Characteristics of a Formal Prose Style
  • A Brief History of English Literature
  • What Does "Persona" Mean?
  • An Introduction to Literary Nonfiction
  • A Look at the Roles Characters Play in Literature
  • Mark Twain's Colloquial Prose Style
  • Using Informal Style in Prose Writing
  • What Are the Different Types and Characteristics of Essays?
  • What is a Familiar Essay in Composition?
  • Definition of Belles-Lettres in English Grammer
  • Purple Prose
  • Francis Bacon: "Of Parents and Children"
  • Levels of Usage: Definition and Examples
  • The Essay: History and Definition
  • Vernacular (Language)


  1. How to Write a Familiar Essay. Useful Information

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  2. How to Write a Familiar Essay

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  3. Brilliant Tips on Writing a Perfect Familiar Essay: Wonderful Guide!

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  1. What is a Familiar Essay in Composition?

    Revival of the Familiar Essay "Equally problematic are conventional divisions of the essay into formal and informal, impersonal and familiar, expository and conversational.Though imprecise and potentially contradictory, such labels not only serve as a form of critical shorthand but also point to what is often the most powerful organizing force in the essay: the rhetorical voice or projected ...

  2. Definitive Familiar Essay Guide

    Definition of a Familiar Essay A familiar essay, as its name suggests, is a form of non-fiction writing that offers an intimate, conversational exploration of a topic. Unlike formal academic essays , where the goal is to make an objective, evidence-based argument, the familiar essay offers a comfortable space to meander through thoughts and ...

  3. How to Write a Familiar Essay

    What is a Familiar Essay? Let us define a familiar essay. A familiar essay is a type of nonfiction short story writing in which the author shares a life experience and uses a personal or voice unique to themselves. It is known for being written in an informal manner. Popular Classic Familiar Essays. Death of a Pig, by E.B. White

  4. The Familiar Essay Critical Essays

    The familiar essay is characterized by its brevity and discursive style. As the genre gained critical acceptance, attempts to arrive at a more functional definition of the essay proliferated ...

  5. How to write a familiar essay

    The familiar essay is a type of essay that has fallen by the wayside in most primary and secondary school curricula because it is difficult to write.The familiar essay is a personal reflection on an elevated topic, such as "people worth knowing," or "How religion informs morality." It is similar to a personal essay because the observations are unique to the author and research is not ...

  6. The Familiar Essay Definitions And Origins

    Definitions And Origins. SOURCE: "The Essay," in The Enjoyment of Literature, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1935, pp. 38-61. [ In the following excerpt, Drew traces the development of the familiar ...

  7. The Familiar Essay Elements Of Form And Style

    SOURCE: "On Familiar Style," in Romantic Prose of the Early Nineteenth Century, edited by Carl H. Grabo, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1927, pp. 3-12. [ Hazlitt was one of the leading essayists of the ...

  8. PDF The familiar essay in American literature

    r---THE FAMILIAR ESSAY IN AMERICAN LITERATURE Introduction A. Definition of Terms 1. Meaning of "essay" 2. Classification of types ~. The Familiar E8say a. Essence b. Ch~r~cteristics ·B. 'lhe English familia.r essay as a foundation for the American 1. Influence of Addison and Steele 2 • . Familiar essay in the nineteenth century a. Lamb b.

  9. Familiar Essay Writing: 10 Tips That Will Make Your Work Easier

    However, the familiar essay is a definition of a freeform assignment, so don't be afraid to make experiments. Introduce a list or two, use narrative elements - in other words, do everything you need to get your point across, without being restricted by any particular format. 4. Talk to Your Reader While Writing a Familiar Essay

  10. Familiar Essay

    A familiar essay can be easily described as a merging of the expository essay and the true narrative essay. The familiar essay is written by the first person but does not tell a story based on plot like the true narrative. The writer of the familiar essay has an interest, if not passion, in her subject. "Probably not.

  11. Definition and Examples of Essays or Compositions

    "[An essay is a] composition, usually in prose.., which may be of only a few hundred words (like Bacon's "Essays") or of book length (like Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding") and which discusses, formally or informally, a topic or a variety of topics." (J.A. Cuddon, "Dictionary of Literary Terms". Basil, 1991) "Essays are how we speak to one another in print — caroming thoughts ...

  12. Extended Essay: Formal vs. Informal Writing

    Differences Between Informal and Formal Essays. When writing your extended essay you should use language that is formal and academic in tone. The chart below gives you some idea of the differences between informal and formal essays. See the box below for examples of the differences in tone in informal and formal essays written on identical topics.

  13. Familiar Definition & Meaning

    familiar: [noun] a member of the household of a high official.

  14. The Familiar Essay Overview Of The Genre

    The didactic essay, or "paper," is a lesser channel of the essay-form; and even during the 19th century it was the non-critical or "literary" essay which left the deepest mark on non-narrative ...

  15. PDF The Familiar Essay, Romantic Affect and Metropolitan Culture

    familiar essay in the Romantic period, which, through a long-standing association with metropolitan culture, seems to define itself against the nature-proselytising poetry of the so-called Lake School. Indeed, Wordsworth's evolution from radical into establishment figure coincides

  16. How to Write a Familiar Essay. Useful Information

    Definition and Recommendations on Writing a Familiar Essay. Publication Date: 06 May 2019 | Categories: Blog The familiar essay is mostly given as home task in primary and secondary school curricula. This type of essay is indeed difficult to write. If you have to deal with a familiar essay, writing a personal reflection on a certain topic will be your main task.

  17. 250 Topics for Familiar Essays (Writing Suggestions)

    This list of 250 "subjects for familiar essays" originally appeared as an appendix to Essays and Essay-Writing, an anthology edited by William M. Tanner and published by the Atlantic Monthly Press in 1917. But don't let the date scare you away.

  18. Informal Essay Definition, Format & Examples

    Informal essays can also be called personal or familiar essays. Frequently, informal essay examples are found in various types of writing like diary entries, social media, or blog posts.

  19. On Familiar Style Analysis

    Instead, the familiar style is clear, plain, common English that is well-chosen, expressive, precise, and respectful. Second, the familiar style is not puffed up. It does not use big words only ...

  20. Definition and Examples of a Personal Essay

    Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms. A personal essay is a short work of autobiographical nonfiction characterized by a sense of intimacy and a conversational manner. Also called a personal statement . A type of creative nonfiction, the personal essay is "all over the map," according to Annie Dillard.

  21. Examples of 'Familiar' in a Sentence

    adjective. Definition of familiar. Synonyms for familiar. She spoke in a familiar way about her past. She has become a familiar figure in the world of politics. They felt the waiter was being overly familiar. The essay covers familiar ground.

  22. The Familiar Essay Status Of The Genre

    Essays and criticism on The Familiar Essay - Status Of The Genre ... and bookish archaisms from Evelyn and Pepys bid fair to drive out all other words from thesaurus and dictionary. Worst of all ...

  23. The Kidnapping I Can't Escape

    Fifty years ago, my father's friend was taken at gunpoint on Long Island. Then he went on with his life — and that's the part that haunts me. Jack Teich in the driveway of his home in ...

  24. Definition and Examples of Formal Essays

    In composition studies, a formal essay is a short, relatively impersonal composition in prose. Also known as an impersonal essay or a Baconian essay (after the writings of England's first major essayist, Francis Bacon ). In contrast to the familiar or personal essay, the formal essay is typically used for the discussion of ideas.