Whereas most essays are designed to have the writer prove a thesis by backing it up with specific thesis by backing it up with specific evidence, an exploratory essay leads the writer by exploring, not proving. The writer does not start writing with an idea to prove, but rather explores many different options and opinions. Although an exploratory essay is similar to an inquiry essay, the exploratory essay is much greater in scope as it addresses many aspects of a question instead of a single component. Essentially, an exploratory essay allows the writer to think through writing.
Writing such an essay is a challenge because of the unique structure that is required, however, writing of this nature can be a very rewarding experience as it allows the writer to think on paper and write freely without having to prove a point. The writer is usually required to explicate their thought process and the various research that is done in response to thinking critically about the presented question. This is usually done through retrospection and can actually take on a very creative form.
When thinking through the presented question, it is important for the writer to examine multiple opinions and aspects of the question. All of this needs to be recorded throughout the process of writing. The structure of such an essay is very fluid and much depends on the creative priorities of the writer. However, it is important for the writer to not allow the essay to run away with itself. Even though the format is fluid, there must be a common theme and it cannot just be the random ramblings of the writer.