There are some common features (features) of the genre that are usually listed in encyclopedias and dictionaries:
Of course, there are no hard boundaries. The volume of the essay is from three to seven pages of computer text. For example, at the Harvard Business School, essays are often written on just two pages. In Russian universities, an essay of up to ten pages is allowed, however, in typewritten text.
The specific theme and emphasized subjective interpretation.
The topic of the essay is always specific. An essay may not contain many topics or ideas (thoughts). It reflects only one option, one thought. And develops it. This is the answer to one question.
Free composition is an important feature of the essay.
The researchers note that the essay is by its nature designed so that it does not tolerate any formal framework. It is often built contrary to the laws of logic, subject to arbitrary associations, and is guided by the principle “It’s the other way round.”
Ease of narration.
It is important for the author of an essay to establish a confidential style of communication with the reader; to be understood, he avoids intentionally complicated, obscure, overly strict constructions. Researchers note that a good essay can only be written by someone who is fluent in the topic, sees it from different angles and is ready to present the reader with an incomplete, but a multidimensional view of the phenomenon that has become the starting point of his thoughts.
The tendency to paradoxes.
An essay is intended to surprise the reader (listener) – this, according to many researchers, is its mandatory quality. The starting point for reflection embodied in an essay is often an aphoristic, vivid statement or a paradoxical definition, which literally confronts at first glance indisputable, but mutually exclusive, statements, characteristics, and theses.
Inner semantic unity
Perhaps this is one of the paradoxes of the genre. Free in composition, focused on subjectivity, the essay, however, has an internal semantic unity, i.e. consistency of key theses and statements, internal harmony of arguments and associations, consistency of those judgments in which the author’s personal position is expressed.