Are you writing a piece to inform, to persuade, to describe, or to tell a story? The style you choose for your text is a result of the way you combine word choice, tone, and syntax.
The Four Writing Styles
- Expository – Writing to inform.
- Descriptive – Writing to create a picture in a reader’s mind.
- Persuasive – Writing to share an opinion and to persuade.
- Narrative – Writing to tell a story.
Why do you need to know these different styles?
If you write for different publications, or if you write your own blogs for different purposes, you need to compose your content in a way that suits the audience and the purpose of the writing.
You use this style to tell your readers about a topic. Its purpose is to explain how to do something or how something has been done. You can include data and facts, but you must leave out your opinions. You need to organise your thoughts in a logical, practical manner to convey what needs to be explained.
Where to find it: This style is used in how-to articles, instruction manuals, and text books.
You use descriptive language to describe something or somebody in detail. You should include all five senses when writing in this style and focus on specific information that leaves the most powerful image in the reader’s mind. If used properly, readers should feel as if they could reach out and touch the character or object you are describing.
Where to find it: This style is used in parts of the following: poetry, reviews of restaurants, product reviews, and book reports. It is used in children’s essays to describe a favourite toy, food, holiday, or pet. Writers use it as a literary device in descriptions of fictional characters and places, as well as those of historical figures and real people.
Can I change your mind? Its aim is to persuade an audience to agree with you, to get them to understand your opinion, or to get them to do something. You express an opinion and support it in a way that convinces the reader to see it the same way. The format usually consists of an explanation of opposing points of view with data, facts, and statistics to show why that is incorrect and why readers should support your position instead.
Where to find it: This style is used in opinion pieces, debates, marketing pitches, adverts, editorial essays, speeches, motivational talks, proposals, and sales pitches. Use our Persuasive Writing Brainstormer Template when you write this way.
You use this style to tell a story so that readers feel as if they have been entertained by gaining insight into an experience or by learning something through your, or your character’s, eyes. The author creates characters who show their stories through actions, description, and dialogue. It has a framework, or a plot, that usually involves a beginning, a middle, and an ending.
Avoid the abstract. Do not say: ‘I enjoyed the day swimming in the garden.’ Be specific. Rather say: ‘I raced across the garden, blades of grass tickling the soles of my feet. Sunlight tapped the ebb and flow of water as I dived into the pool.’
Where to find it: This style is used in short stories, plays, novels, novellas, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, and poetry.
No matter which of these styles you choose to use, these nine tips will improve your writing:
- Avoid stereotypes and clichés.
- Be clear.
- Be concise.
- Be precise.
- Avoid the abstract.
- Choose the right words.
- Read widely.
- Use words that sound like you.
- Write every day.
- Top Tip: If you want to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.
- If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, join our blogging and social media course.
- If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- 7 Choices That Affect A Writer’s Style
- How Do You Find Your Writing Voice?
- Which famous writer’s style is most like your own?
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