What Writing Styles Are There? The Basics and 4 Dominant Types

What Writing Styles Are There

If you’re wondering what writing styles there are when you’re composing a manuscript, you’ve come to the right place. The style that a writer uses is defined as the way he or she writes. It is also known as a “voice” and it can vary from writer to writer. There are, however, many different writing styles and below is some information on each of them.

Understanding the Basics

Your writing style is what distinguishes that writing from everyone else’s and there are four basic styles that all professional writers are familiar with. These are the four styles:

  • Argumentative, or expository style: a subject-oriented style of writing that consists of the writer describing a topic or subject without interjecting personal opinions about it
  • Descriptive style: a very detail-oriented style of writing describing a character, place, or event that usually incorporates sensory details
  • Narrative style: when the writer narrates a story and it can include Short stories, novels, poetry, and even biographies
  • Persuasive style: type of writing that involves the writer trying to persuade the readers to accept his or her point of view on a certain topic

Rather than looking at grammar, punctuation, and spelling, the style of writing concentrates on sentence and paragraph structure as well as the choice of words. This is done to convey the message clearly and decisively. It describes not what a writer does but how the writer actually does it. In addition to conveying the message in the right way, style is used to keep the reader interested and engaged.

Writing styles are not used to display the writer’s personality or demonstrate the writer’s skills or abilities, although these things are usually evident very early on. Most styles of writing have to do with the purpose of the writing and the particular point of view; other than that, the writer can write about all types of subject matter.

Each time that you sit down to write, you take certain things into consideration and this helps determine which style of writing is best for you to use. Now, let’s take a look at the four writing styles in more detail.

The Argumentative (Expository) Style of Writing

The main purpose of these writings is to explain something in more detail. The writings are filled with facts and information but no subjective details or opinions. If you’ve ever read a how-to article or a textbook, you are familiar with this style of writing. The author simply tells you about a subject matter and leaves the rest alone.

The Argumentative (Expository) Style of Writing

The main characteristics of the argumentative style of writing are:

  • It usually contains a lot of facts and figures.
  • It usually explains something involved in a process.
  • It usually follows a specific sequence and order.

Examples of the argumentative style of writing include:

  • Business-related books and articles
  • How-to articles
  • Instructional guides
  • Manuals
  • News stories
  • Non-fiction books
  • Recipes and cookbooks
  • Scientific, technical, or business writing
  • Self-help books
  • Textbook materials
  • Writings about hobbies and interests

Argumentative writing is always used to describe or explain something. If you are interested in using this style of writing, ask yourself the following questions first:

  • Am I trying to inform the readers with this piece?
  • Do I wish to explain something in more detail?
  • Does the piece I’m going to write answer the questions of what, why, and how?

In some cases, argumentative and persuasive styles of writing seem similar but keep in mind that the former is used just to inform people and present facts whereas the latter is used to convince readers that they should adopt a specific point of view. Thus, writing about chocolate cake using facts only would be argumentative whereas an article on the benefits of eating chocolate cake would lean more towards the persuasive style.

The Descriptive Style of Writing

Descriptive writing, quite naturally, describes something in detail. It usually describes an event, a place, or a character and it goes into great detail doing so. In fact, there is so much description in this type of writing that it can actually be a bit poetic to read even when it isn’t poetry.

The Descriptive Style of Writing

The main characteristics of the descriptive style of writing include:

  • It describes people, events, situations, locations, or places in a very detail-oriented manner.
  • It often has a poetic feel to it.
  • The author is visualizing what is seen, smelled, felt, heard, and tasted.

Examples of the descriptive style of writing include:

  • Music and songwriting lyrics
  • Passages in fiction that are very descriptive
  • Poetry and prose
  • Travel diaries
  • Writing about nature
  • Writing in a journal or diary

Most fiction and most poetry fall into the category of descriptive writing. If only descriptive writing is used, the piece may not be very lengthy. Because of the great detail used in this style of writing, the readers get a better sense of what the piece is trying to say and they can understand it better and imagine it in their heads.

When you’re asking yourself what writing styles are there, it is easy to understand why this is one of the most common styles there is.

The Narrative Style of Writing

The Narrative Style of Writing

When a book or movie is narrated by someone, it is called the narrative style of writing. If you are reading a short story or novella and wondering “what happened then?”, you are likely reading something written in the narrative writing style. The main characteristics of a narrative style of writing include:

  • It can include things such as actions, disputes, and conflicts with an eventual solution.
  • It consists of a person narrating the story or event.
  • It has dialogue and characters.
  • Its beginning, middle, and ending are logical and definite.

Examples of the narrative style of writing include:

  • Anecdotes
  • Biographies and autobiographies
  • Epic poems
  • Essays containing valuable lessons learned or insight based on experience
  • Fables, myths, and legends
  • Historical accounts
  • Memoirs
  • Novellas
  • Novels
  • Oral histories
  • Poetry
  • Sagas
  • Screenplays
  • Short stories

With narrative writing, there is a clear plot, well-defined characters, and usually both conflict and resolution. It always consists of a timeline with specific sequences of events.

The Persuasive Style of Writing

There is one main purpose for the persuasive style of writing and that is to convince. Unlike the argumentative style of writing where the author’s opinions are not included, persuasive writing does use opinions and even biases to try and convince the readers to agree with that particular side of an issue.

The Persuasive Style of Writing

Persuasive writings often contain reasons and justifications and you can find them in everything from letters to the editor to marketing pitches. The characteristics of the persuasive style of writing include:

  • It contains justifications, reasons, and even arguments.
  • It often includes a call to action wherein the author asks something specific of the readers.
  • The author takes a stand and asks the readers to agree with that stand.

Examples of this style of writing include:

  • Advertisements and commercials
  • Book, music, movie, and restaurant reviews
  • Business proposals
  • Company brochures
  • Copywriting
  • Cover letters
  • Essays on “hot button” issues
  • Letters of complaint
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Newspaper pieces containing editorials and opinions
  • Political speeches

Persuasive essays are commonly required from schoolchildren. Persuasive writing needs to have a lot of logic in it and a good bit of research should be used. After all, if you’re trying to get someone to agree with you on something, you’ll need to use more than just your emotions to do so. Both a logical and an emotional connection to the readers is a must if your persuasive piece is going to be effective.

Some Final Thoughts

Writing in the correct style merely depends on the purpose of your article and your intentions for the readers. Asking yourself what writing styles are there allows you to become familiar with all four of the basic styles. Regardless of what you’re writing about, one of these styles is bound to be perfect for your article or book.