If you study writing, you will learn that there are different writing styles to choose from. These writing styles each have their own place in literature, and some will be more appropriate than others depending on the situation.
Often, writers use these writing styles without even thinking about it. They come naturally depending on the subject matter. Other times, it will take a conscious effort to write in a particular style.
This article will review various writing styles so you can find the appropriate one to use every time.
Narrative writing is a type of writing that tells a story from the view of one character, usually the main character. It can be written in first person or it can use the author’s voice to describe what is happening. It is commonly used in novels and other works of fiction.
To write a good narrative, you must consider the author’s tone and voice, the structure of the book, the word choice and sentence structure. Here are some other elements you will want to include.
- An overriding theme or idea
- A main character with well-defined personality traits
- Side characters with well-defined personality traits
- A setting or multiple settings for the story
- A structure which may include dialogue, description, actions and more
- Literary elements like symbolism and metaphors
- A logical beginning and end
- Disputes and conflicts that keep the plot entertaining
As the name suggests, analytical writing serves the purpose of analyzing. It can be applied to another literary work, a concept, an idea or a product. It involves identifying the subject, dissecting it and making an argument about its usefulness or meaning that will be backed up with facts throughout the essay.
Analytical writing can be done at any level, but it is a skill that is refined over time. It involves coming up with a thesis and backing it up with evidence that comes from the text or outside resources. It typically ends with a conclusion that enforces the main point. It requires critical thinking and analytical skills as well as the ability to explain and support specific claims.
Expository writing serves the purpose of explaining something. It can cover anything from explaining a craft or recipe to a human experience. Common types of expository writing include the following:
- Textbook writing
- News stories (not including opinion or editorial pieces)
- Business, technical or scientific writing.
Articles are written in a logical sequence and include facts and figures to back it up when necessary.
Although this type of writing is typically cut and dried, today’s writers are encouraged to put a refreshing spin on it by offering personal asides, varying sentence structures and making the writing more engaging overall.
Persuasive writing’s purpose is to persuade the reader to think differently. It may attempt to get them try a new product, behave in a different way, or change their mind about a certain concept or idea. It is commonly found in the following types of literature:
- Opinion and editorial news pieces
- Reviews (of books, restaurants, products, movies, etc.)
- Letters of recommendation
- Complaint letters
- Cover letters
Persuasive writing consists of two primary components, logical and emotional appeal.
The logical part of will be backed up with facts and figures. For instance, if you are trying to persuade the reader not to let their cat outside, you might provide statistics about how likely it is for their cat to catch a cold or get hurt.
The emotional part will appeal to emotions. Here, you might talk about how scared and upset the cat will be when they are locked outside of their home.
Argumentative writing and persuasive writing are similar in that both attempt to get the reader to come around to the author’s way of thinking. The main difference is that persuasive writing includes an emotional standpoint while argumentative writing relies on facts and figures alone. As such, it should have strong statistical facts including the author’s own surveys and questionnaires.
When writing an argumentative piece, here are a few elements you will want to include.
- Use a formal writing style, usually in the third person
- Include well researched facts and statistics from a reliable source
- Make sure your arguments are based on the facts you are including in your essay
- Your overall claim should be strongly asserted throughout the piece
- Conclude the article by restating your facts and giving readers something to think about
Descriptive writing is a style of writing that relies on description. It can be a short, poetic piece that serves the purpose of describing a particular item or feeling or it can serve as the style for longer pieces that tell a complete story. It is typically used in the following formats:
- Journal or diary writing
- Nature writing
Finding Your Style
At times you may be given a writing assignment that calls for a certain style of writing. For instance, if you are assigned to write up a recipe, you will have to use expository writing. If you are asked to write a piece on why chocolate is better than vanilla, you will need to go the persuasive or argumentative route.
However, if you decide to branch out your writing beyond assigned pieces, for instance, if you want to start your own blog or try to become a professionally published writer, you will want to find a style that works best for you.
In doing so, here are some things to consider:
What Do I Enjoy?
The writing style you choose should be based on your tastes and personality. If you enjoy being creative, descriptive or narrative writing may appeal to you. If you are more scientific, you may prefer persuasive or argumentative writing.
If you are unsure, the best way to determine the writing that works for you is to take a pen to paper and see what comes out. You may end up writing about the leaf outside your window, you may end up writing about why you prefer brown rice to white rice or you may end up telling your life story.
The writing that flows naturally should be the kind you choose.
And if you don’t want to limit yourself to one kind of writing, that’s fine too. However, if you are planning on writing professionally, it may be to your benefit to find a niche and stick with it.
What Do I Know?
In factually based writing, like expository, argumentative or persuasive, is your style of choice, you will want to go with what you know. For instance, if you are exceptionally good at knitting, you may want to start a knitting blog providing valuable tips and how-tos. This can be a great way to earn income. You can even eventually use this knowledge to host workshops and tutorials that can bring in even more money.
Your existing knowledge will also come in handy if you are writing pieces of fiction. For example, many novels include nonfiction elements that make them seem more believable. If you know a lot about a certain city or location, you may use that as the backdrop for your book to add a sense of realism.
Will it Make Money?
Writing is typically a creative process that you should enjoy partaking in. As such, you should choose a style that feels natural to you. This will make for pieces that are easy and more fun for you to write and it’s likely that readers will find them engaging as well.
However, there are certain writing styles that are more likely to make money. For instance, self-help books and blogs typically sell well. Literature with financial tips may also be top sellers.
These are both likely to fall in the expository writing category and they may increase your chances of getting a publishing deal or launching a successful blog.
If you enjoy writing about these subjects, that’s terrific. If not, you will have to decide whether you would rather be writing for money or for enjoyment.
It should be noted that if you don’t enjoy writing about these subjects, the writing may not be as engaging to readers which can be a hindrance to your success.
Developing Your Own Style
Once you find a writing style that works for you, feel free to make it your own. Add a sense of humor, tug at heartstrings and bring in characters to make sure your voice carries through. In time you will develop a personality that will help you stand out from other writers in your niche.
If you are interested in becoming a writer, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different writing styles. This will help you develop your own style ensuring you are successful in your endeavors. Which style do you enjoy the most?