There are six general types of writing styles.
They are descriptive, expository, persuasive, narrative, poetic and technical.
When you understand the differences between each one, they will help your word choice and sentence structure.
In other words, you can keep to a specific style to suit any particular piece of writing. A fiction author writes in a different style to a blogger, an article writer or a political commentator.
How to define each style
The different styles of writing don’t belong to any single type of genre. You can find a mix of any of them in fiction, nonfiction or blog post and article writing.
You don’t want to tie yourself to one particular style. You should be selective in when you use one, or more than one.
The choice depends on your point of view in a specific piece or passage and how you use various literary devices.
Let’s take a quick look at each one and how you can use these styles in your writing.
1. Descriptive Style
Logically, descriptive writing is all about describing things, places or people.
It is usually rich in adjectives and adverbs as well as often using similes and metaphors.
You will likely use this style in many forms of creative writing. The descriptive writing style is typical in fiction, poetry and short stories.
2. Expository Style
Expository writing is when you inform your readers about the facts.
You are not trying to convince, but only drawing their attention to something that is proven and undeniable.
For instance, there are 50 states in the USA, and only four start with an A. The highest mountain in Europe is Mont Blanc at 4,808 meters or 15,776 feet.
You would use this style in informative articles, nonfiction, cookbooks or textbooks.
Technical, business or scientific writing
3. Persuasive Style
Persuasive writing naturally implies that you want to win over your readers to your point of view.
You build an argument and try to persuade readers towards your opinion that you back up with solid arguments or proof.
The natural uses of the persuasive style of writing would suit a CV and cover letters or why someone should vote for a candidate in an election.
You might use this style if you are writing an opinion piece, product reviews or perhaps even academic papers. You could also use it to support a cause in which you believe.
Resumès and cover letters
Letters of recommendation
Letters of complaint
4. Narrative Style
The narrative writing style is the traditional writing technique for fiction authors.
The main element is the plot. The author narrates from the beginning, through the middle and concludes at the end.
It is the voice of the author, but they can complement it with a lot of descriptive writing.
The uses are mostly for fiction, but it can be used in many forms of creative writing and content marketing storytelling as well as biographies.
Poetry (particularly epic sagas)
5. Poetic Style
It is a broad area of style. But it can generally be defined as using rhyme, rhythm and metre to convey a story or emotional feeling or sensation.
It is, of course, a unique style for pure poetry, but it can also be utilised in fiction.
6. Technical Style
Technical writing is to the point and totally factual.
It is about writing on a specific subject and using facts, figures and guidance that are unemotive to inform and instruct readers.
You would use this style for instruction or user manuals, analysis reports or even press releases.
Technical or scientific writing
Can you mix and match writing styles?
You shouldn’t get locked into using one form for one piece of writing.
There is no reason why you can’t use expository, descriptive writing to inform. But at the same time, use poetic descriptive elements.
In narrative writing, you will almost always use passages of description, perhaps poetic or even in the persuasive style.
The key is in understanding what style you are using, and when it is appropriate and beneficial for you to use it.
What is a writer’s style?
Every writer or author has a particular style that can vary or personalise any of these defined styles.
There are five basic areas of style a writer can use in their writing.
It is the feeling, or atmosphere writing creates for a reader. The mood is created through the use of setting, theme, voice and tone.
Some examples are romantic, optimistic, pessimistic, gloomy, sorrowful, serious, humorous, angry or cheerful.
The tone in writing is the attitude an author has about the subject matter. It might be quite negative and short if they don’t like or disagree with something.
If they like what they’re writing about, it will be longer and more positive.
It is when your writing or narrative uses long, complex or run-on sentences instead or short and concise sentence structures.
Some writers use long and more complex words, while others shorter and simpler vocabulary choices. Your word choice can help readers understand more about your perspective.
Syntax in writing means the way words and sentences are put together.
In English, syntax usually follows a pattern of subject-verb-object agreement. But authors often play around with this to find a more lyrical, rhythmic, rhetoric or questioning effect.
Formal or informal?
On top of your choice of style, you should also maintain consistent formality.
In writing and speaking, it is defined as language register. It is a set of rules that determines and controls the various levels of polite and familiar language.
Mixing informal and formal or worse, vulgar is going to confuse or confound your readers.
You don’t need to tie your writing to any one style or form.
The art of good writing is in finding a balance that will appeal to your target reader. When you think about how a reader will react to your writing, you can then craft your message or narrative to suit.
The styles noted in this article are only a guide for you and are definitely not rules that you have to obey.
However, they can give you a better sense of direction and purpose when you write.