How to Write a Non-Literary Essay
A ‘non-literary’ piece of writing is an umbrella term for a range of texts which seek to communicate in a way which is usually described as non-fiction. For example, such a text may take the form of a letter or an email. Additionally, such a piece of writing may consist of a journalistic form of writing, a scientific report or a written advertisement. To know how to write a non-literary essay, however, the convention is usually to comment through the written word on different aspects of the arts.
Non-literary essays are those works concerned with the exploration of an ‘opinion’ whether it be a personal viewpoint or it may be an opinion expressed for the benefit of others. For example, a film critic will often write a review of a newly released film with the general public in mind as much as his own thoughts. Other types of review could disseminate a novel, or a play or a work of art such as a painting.
Writing a non-literary essay
To know how to write a non-literary essay, therefore one must understand that viewpoint and opinion, especially of the individual, is the key. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for the student, who may be more used to underpinning his statements with reference to what others have previously published. In order to write a successful non-literary essay, the writer must tune in to his own thoughts and emotions.
Take for example a non-literary essay based on a piece of classical music. It is the remit of the essayist to consider the way the music is affecting areas such as mood. Does the piece lift the emotions or does it suppress? Does the music in some way induce a ‘pent up’ emotion where feelings of angst are created? These are all questions which could be similarly addressed in a novel, painting or other work of art.
To know how to write a non-literary essay one must understand that this most undefined form of communication can also take the form of a commentary. For example, a ‘film essay’ may consist of a film about a film’ which seeks to uncover facets of the story by uncovering meaning in an erudite and sophisticated way. Similarly, a photo essay constitutes a form of non-literary essay which will encapsulate a theme.
To know how to write a non-literary essay one must consider different ways in which an emotion or feeling can be projected to others and consequently choose a medium which best suits that end. For example, you have read a novel and want to communicate your thoughts on it.
You need to decide on your medium of choice. Will it be a written book review? or perhaps a film commentary defining your reactions would be more effective. Or could your response be communicated by chartering your emotional response in the form of a series of photographs? One must, therefore, develop an imaginative response that may be for outward consumption or for personal inner reflection.