Finding Your Writing Style
How the Page Speaks: Different Writing Styles
Writing can be a means to recalling and memorializing the past, to building fantastic worlds that exist only in imagination, or to muse about what the future has in store. Not all writing “speaks” to the reader the same way, however, and writing styles are to the writer what colors and brush strokes are to the painter. Styles give your words meaning and context, and a variety of ways to hold the reader’s attention. It is often called the writer’s “voice”.
The Expository Writing Style
Expository writing is aimed at conveying information in a factual way. News articles are an excellent example, as are informational textbooks, brochures, and how-to guides. This type of writing generally adopts a third person perspective, which means it doesn’t use personal terms like you, I, or we unless they’re part of a direct quote by someone other than the writer.
“Sources say that the man ate dinner at a restaurant shortly before robbing the bank.”
The Descriptive Writing Style
Descriptive writing is aimed at conveying information in an in-depth, factual way. Where expository is straightforward, factual accounting, descriptive will linger a little longer on aspects of a story to “set the scene” for the reader. This may take the form of describing elements that aren’t immediately necessary to a story – the way the air smells in autumn, or the way a certain photo on a wall looked faded – in order to inspire an emotional connection to the information being described.
“The man sat down to a blue plate special of steak and potatoes, both unpalatably overcooked. The clock on the diner wall ticked loudly, and everything smelled of burnt coffee.”
The Persuasive Writing Style
Persuasive writing is aimed at conveying information with an express purpose of coaxing a reaction or action from the reader. Persuasive writing is used extensively in sales, marketing, and advertising, and attempts to convince potential buyers they need an item or service. It discusses problems through the lens of a certain solution, always continually leading the reader back to that solution, whether directly or with subtlety.
“Planning on a big day? You’ll need energy and nourishment to tackle your to-do list! The best way to get it is with Dina Diner’s tender, juicy steak and potato special.”
The Narrative Writing Style
Narrative writing brings the reader along on a journey, allowing them to experience a story as if they were watching it like a movie. It often incorporates information or motivations that aren’t immediately obvious to the reader in order to enhance understanding. Narrative writing allows the reader to enter a world where the story unfolds, encouraging them to stay interested and engaged – a little like persuasive writing without the “goal” attached.
“The man scowled at his unappetizing plate of burnt food, deciding this was the last straw. He was robbing the bank across the street, the universe wanted him to.”
Each writing style has its own advantages and disadvantages, but a talented writer – who should also be a well-versed reader – should be able to recognize each for its strengths. If writing styles are the color that brings a written picture to life, each has its own vivid shades to experiment with and enjoy.
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