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Novels, short stories, poems, letters, newspaper articles and essays are all different – that is, they are different categories of texts, each with its own and, in a sense, its own rules. Some of them, like letters and most poems, also require their own . The differences between these genres are , between a novel and a letter, for example. However, there are different varieties of essay, and there is a whole group of other genres which have quite a lot in common.

A personal essay is lighter than a essay: it can include personal memoirs, and it can be altogether more light-hearted, along the lines of the Norwegian kåseri. (But be : writing humorous prose is difficult!) If you are asked to write an essay, it is best to assume it is a formal essay unless you are told it is a personal one. Remember: formal must not mean dull. A formal essay should be written in a lively, style.

Similarly, an article can be anything from a light-hearted newspaper for a Saturday morning newspaper to a serious article demanding close reading. A talk or , too, can be a dazzling, light-hearted affair, or can be serious and . (You are sometimes asked to write the text of a talk or speech.)

The to choosing the correct genre is twofold. First, read your very carefully, to find out the sort of text that would be appropriate. Second, think of your or readership. What sort of people are going to read this? What sort of reader-attitude will they have? What is the social ? For example, a letter to a newspaper about an accident on a dangerous road expects a different reader-attitude from a talk at a football club dinner after a sensationally successful .


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