The term essay is derived from the French word 'essai', which means 'weighing' or 'balancing'. The exponent of this genre was also a French writer, named Montaigne. Essay traveled to England in the 16th century and got perfection with the endeavors of Francis bacon, the father of English essay. The essay in English means 'attempt'. The writing of essay is an art. Unlike poetry, it is not a gift of nature. Essayists are not born but made; poets are born. Hence the art of essay writing can be acquired. Like all the other arts, essay writing too requires practice. However, good language skills, proficiency in structuring of sentences, grammatical accuracy, and rich vocabulary are the prerequisites of undertaking the business of essay writing.
When a good command over the language is achieved, half the battle is won. Since, we know that the style is the soul of essay, it requires sharpening. Systematic practice and sustained labor make an essayist perfect. The more one writes, the more the prose style shines. The modern style of essay is deemed to be simple, lucid, pointed and straightforward.
Short words and sentences are more effective than long constructions. A forceful and effective diction is advised to be developed in order to master the prose style. The following points would prove helpful in the practice of essay writing.
First and foremost, think over the topic on which you have to attempt your essay.
Systematize your ideas prior to expressing them in your essay, i.e., make the outline either on paper or in your mind. It is required in the beginning for a beginner's loose sally of mind is very likely to lose the very rationale of the attempt. Only after attaining command over style, can one's essay be 'dispersed meditation'.
The impersonal type of essay, alone, should be attempted first. Only after considerable practice, when one's own style is shaped, subjected or personal essays are advised to be taken up.
Verbosity is detrimental to clarity. Hence superfluous words and expressions should be avoided.
Direct expression and active voice construction are preferable to digression and passive expression.
Complex sentences and hotchpotch of ideas mar effectiveness and precision. One idea must be expressed in a single paragraph.
Thus, if you want to become an essayist of note, master your language first and make your model any modern essayist, who is deemed to have mastered the prose style.