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How to Write an Essay in Conversation Style

by Stacy Alleyne

Conversational essays are intended to engage the reader and draw them in more than a more formal essay would. The stylistic choices that writers use ultimately determine the level of formality of an essay. Narrative essays tend to be more conversational in style because they generally include personal anecdotes and are usually written in first person point of view, naturally giving them a more conversational tone.

Word Choice

An author’s choice of words greatly affects an essay’s style. It helps to use simple words when creating a conversational style, as if you are speaking directly to the reader. Colloquial phrases almost never appear in a formal essay, but they can be used to great effect to create a conversational tone in a narrative essay. For example, if you are writing about what makes a great teacher and you wanted to say that long lectures are boring, in a conversational essay you can start out using a colloquialism. For example, "Classes where the teacher drones on forever aren't much fun, and students lose interest quickly." In a formal essay, a similar sentiment might read, "Teachers who only lecture aren't as effective as teachers who provide engaging activities for the students."

Point of View

Using a first person point of view is another way to create a conversational tone in an essay, especially narrative essays, because it gives the tone of the essay a more relaxed and conversational feel. For example, a first person account of your favorite teacher will give an essay a more conversational feel than if you are writing a more distanced third person account of teachers in general. A conversational essay feels more immediate and personal, and a first person point of view helps provide that sense of immediacy. Readers will feel that you are speaking directly to them instead of to the audience at large.

Rhetorical Questions

Asking readers rhetorical questions often engages them by creating a “dialogue” in the minds of the readers. As they read and mentally respond to the questions you pose, they become part of a conversation with you, the author of the essay. This mental engagement helps create a more conversational style.

Humor

Inserting humor into an essay also lightens the formality of the rigid essay structure. Whether it’s a humorous introduction or a sprinkling of witty but relevant remarks throughout the essay, using humor creates a more conversational tone in an essay. Humor shortens the emotional distance between people and encourages dialogue. This makes an essay more conversational because readers feel like they are a part of the writing and not just spectators. But, be careful not to overdo the humor as too much or too overt humor can take your essay from conversational to frivolous and silly.

About the Author

Stacy Alleyne is a certified English teacher with a BA in English and graduate work in English, education, journalism and law. She has written numerous articles and her own dining column for the "Gazette."

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