In his forward to The Best American Essays (2015), series editor Robert Atwan suggests some stylistic attributes of the essay form. Ideally, essays:
• foreground the writing process in the writing itself
• allow the author to reject any authoritative posture
• are an anti-systematic, anti-rhetorical method of composition
• are prose with an unfinished quality
• reflect the mind in process, showing thoughts appearing to be generated from the act of writing rather than from a preconceived plan.