Your second formal essay will be an epistolary essay-an essay written in the form of a letter. - Essay Prowess

Your second formal essay will be an epistolary essay–an essay written in the form of a letter.


Your second formal essay will be an epistolary essay–an essay written in the form of a letter.

You will choose an essay from the list below and write a letter to the author. In the letter, you will respond to the author’s main argument (which you must define) by agreeing with a difference, disagreeing, or agreeing/disagreeing simultaneously.


Your primary goal is to explain and attempt to understand what “they say” (in this case, “they” is the author of your chosen essay), and then add your thoughts to the conversation and attempt persuade your reader (who is the author of your chosen essay, as well as a broader audience) of your point of view.

Here’s what to do

  • Start with what “they say.” Choose an essay that you feel strongly about. In your letter, clearly define the author’s argument before introducing your own argument.

  • Make it clear whether you are agreeing with a difference, disagreeing, or agreeing/disagreeing simultaneously with the author’s main argument.

  • Write your essay as a letter addressed to the author of your chosen essay and include salutations (Dear X; Sincerely, Y). 
  • You should consider your letter an “open letter,” which means that in addition to the author of the essay you’ve chosen, you also intend for a wider audience to read your letter. This broader audience has most likely not read the essay that you are responding to; therefore, be sure to provide enough context for this reader. 
  • Include a creative opener, such as an anecdote or metaphor. Take a look at some of the readings we’ve done so far for ideas.
  • Include a clear thesis statement (1-2 sentences) that positions your argument in response to what “they say.” Remember that a good thesis statement is not only arguable but also contains an observation, an opinion, and a “so what?” factor. Because I want you to include a creative opener, you do not have to include the thesis in the opening paragraph, but it should appear fairly early on in the letter (please bold the statement so that I can easily find it.)
  • Incorporate a personal narrative that supports your argument. Adding a personal story to an argumentative essay, especially an epistolary essay, can be extremely persuasive. 
  • Ensure that you are appealing to your audience’s logic (logos) and emotions (pathos), as well as building your credibility (ethos).
  • Use at least two other sources (not including your “they say” essay) to support your argument.
  • As this is a letter, it is perfectly acceptable (and necessary, really) to use “you” (when addressing the author of the essay you’ve chosen) and “I.”

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