Since time immemorial, humans have had the urge to record their experiences, feelings, thoughts and events; first through paintings and then through symbols which later developed into language scripts.
In the modern era, Words are Power. The adage, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ was never truer than in this age of the internet. To top it all, writing can be a very lucrative career as well.
Writing is the reflection of our thoughts, therefore each individual has a unique style of writing. But writing is not just putting pen to paper, it is more of a process that involves conscious planning, research, and then depending upon the purpose, putting your thoughts across in a specific content writing format. The Prewriting stage is vital as it sets the backbone of your writing and determines the Writing Style. The task, purpose and audience of your work are paramount in defining the content you write and hence the need to understand the different types of writing styles.
What are Writing Styles?
Why do we write? Few common reasons to write are to express our feelings; to give information; to sell products or services; record events, or my favorite, to narrate stories. Although there are many different ways in which we can write a particular piece of content, the purpose of writing dictates the choice of words, the tone, the general structure of sentences, and the content writing format. Who is the audience of the content will also define the complexity of language and ideas. A short story for young readers will include small rhyming words whereas a novel would have a thrilling and complicated plot.
In other words, the purpose and target reader also defines the type of writing or the writing style of the author.
What are the different types of writing styles?
There are numerous types of writing styles of which the main five styles are Narrative Writing, Persuasive Writing, Expository Writing, Descriptive Writing, and Creative Writing. There are some further sub-categories that mix two or more writing styles to create a new style. In case you are interested in taking up writing as a career or just looking to sharpen your writing skills you should be aware of at least a few different types of writing styles such as Technical Writing, Objective Writing, and Subjective Writing.
If I have managed to whet your appetite, let me do justice and elaborate on a few types of writing styles, examples of their application, and for the more adventurous, how to enhance your writing skills.
# Narrative Writing
Simply put, Narrative writing is the style of writing that involves reciting a story or a series of events. The content writing format of narrative writing includes a plot, a setting, some characters, sequential events etc. The writer selects the Point of View(PoV) of a character or a third person and tells the story. Few examples of narrative writing are essays, movies, fairy tales, and even jokes. Although narrative writing can be used to inform, motivate and educate as well, the main purpose is to captivate the reader and grab their attention.
Tips to improve narrative writing skills:
- Plan the plot, theme, and setting of the narration or story beforehand.
- Set the characters according to the time setting of the story.
- Add some elements of uniqueness to the characters and plot so that the content stands out.
- Try to write the story from different PoVs to see which might appear more interesting to the audience.
- Include some traits of an interesting person you may know around you. This helps to create more realistic characters.
- Use mind mapping visuals to create new twists in the plot, especially in long narratives or novels.
- Narrative writing generally follows chronological events but sometimes the events can be mixed to create an interesting effect of flashback.
- The content mainly uses past tense to state the events especially if it is a story or a novel.
- The content writing format would include:
- Introduction or beginning where you set the plot(or setting) and introduce the main characters to the audience.
- Events where the characters engage with each other and create the storyline. The events should be linked together to form a continuous flow of the narrative.
- The climax is where the events lead to a decisive moment and later to the resolution or end of the narration. The resolution may or may not be a happy ending.
# Persuasive Writing
Persuasive writing is the most often used style of writing in the business world, wherein the writer tries to influence the reader and lead them to a particular series of actions. Some examples of content using persuasive writing are brochures, proposals, advertisements, reviews and even editorials. The content writing format would vary according to the specific example of the writing. Let’s say we are writing a brochure for a resort. The content would be more persuasive with beautiful pictures depicting the scenery and the facilities offered by the resort. But a review or editorial need not have images. Instead, words have to be powerful enough to create an impact on the reader’s minds.
Top 10 Persuasive Writing tips:
- You can’t sell something you don’t believe in yourself. So first convince yourself.
- Learn the topic in depth. Research, research, and research.
- Know what your target reader wants.
- Repeat your opinion in various subtle ways so that the reader is convinced without feeling pressurized.
- Quite often your opinion might not be enough to convince the reader. At such times, cite well-known examples or quote influential people.
- Use phrases like: Clearly, Obviously, Without a doubt, current opinion/ trend shows, and so on.
- The use of the right adjectives is essential in this type of writing style to drive the message home.
- Frame the sentences keeping the reader in mind. So instead of saying “A portable charger is a good gadget.” a more effective writing technique would be to say “A portable charger allows you to charge your devices anytime, anywhere!”
# Expository Writing
Expository writing, or an expose, is one of the types of writing styles for revealing or stating facts. The main purpose of expository writing is to explain, define, state, clarify, or report some information. Some examples of Expository writing are newspaper articles, thesis, essays, and user manuals with stepwise instructions. Academic Writing and Technical Writing are also subcategories of Expository writing. The How-To manuals or tutorials also fall under this content writing format.
Since Expository writing is a type of writing style that deals with presenting information, it employs a straightforward approach and simple to understand language. Often images and flow charts are included in the content to support the written content and remove all chances of confusion.
Companies or organizations also follow defined style guides to ensure uniformity in terms used in the content. A few commonly used style guides are the Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press, and the Modern Language Association.
Tips to improve Expository Writing skills:
- Expository writing generally uses third person pronouns. Avoid using first person pronoun, ‘I’ because you are not stating your opinion in expository writing.
- Try to start with a brief introduction of the topic.
- Active voice is used to convey actionable information in user manuals.
- While writing articles or essays, keep paragraphs short with a single central idea in each paragraph.
- Cite facts or examples to explain a topic further.
- There should be a clear logical progression in the ideas presented in the writing.
- In case of writing instructions, keep them short and clear.
- Try to stick to industry standard words, instead of using creative explanations.
In short, keep your writing brief, crisp and clear as a simple statement of facts.
# Descriptive Writing
The purpose of Descriptive Writing is to paint a picture with words in the minds of the reader. This type of writing skill strives to create an impression using the experience from various senses such as sight, taste, touch, smell, and sound. Use this content writing format to describe events, places, or time in history. In fact, this type of writing is a part of biographies, stories, and journals as well.
An example of Descriptive Writing is: Her smile was as bright as sunshine.
Although understanding the purpose and meaning of Descriptive writing is easy, writing it is difficult. It takes a lot of practice and a concise choice of words to enthrall and evoke the senses of the reader.
Tips to improve Descriptive Writing Skills:
- Use literary devices such as metaphors, similes and analogies to make your work more colorful.
- Practice free writing daily for at least 15 mins to develop the skill of describing your own thought process.
- Travel blogs or websites contain this writing style for their content writing format. Try to pick a familiar place or city and describe it in the smallest detail.
- Brainstorm to pick out different words or synonyms while reviewing and select the word or phrase that is the most suitable.
- Although using a good dose of adjectives may seem very descriptive but sometimes it can be too much. A descriptive sentence such as ‘ beautiful fragrant yellow rose in full bloom’ seems slightly over the top and puts too much effort on the reader’s mind.
# Objective Writing
Objective Writing is a type of writing style that presents an unbiased view of an event or topic and is based on facts that can be verified. Journalist writing relies largely on this content type format. In case, the article is related to a controversial topic, then it falls upon the author to state both sides of the topic and leave it to the reader to make their own opinion. In other words, there should be no prejudice or opinions reflected in the content. School textbooks and reports often employ Objective writing style.
As opposed to this, the author can present their personal feelings or opinions through Subjective Writing, as explained below.
Tips to improve Objective Writing Skills:
- Use a formal tone and avoid using the first person in the content writing format.
- State facts or statistical findings instead of being vague. Instead of saying “Majority of people voted for him” write “79% of the people voted for him”.
- Be careful to avoid all forms of bias in the content.
- Refrain from using words such as always, never, and every time. Including these words might lead to exaggeration.
# Subjective Writing
Subjective Writing style allows the author to express personal opinions and feelings in the content. Some common examples are essays, diary entries, editorials etc. As opposed to Objective writing, the information presented in subjective writing can not always be verified or backed with facts. This style of content writing format is suitable for categories such as Parenting, Fashion, or any other form of fine arts where each person’s perspective is equally relevant.
Tips to improve Subjective Writing Skills:
- Since the content in Subjective writing is derived from personal opinions, the use of first-person is more suitable.
- Phrases such as- In my opinion, I believe that, I feel, etc are more commonly used in this content writing format.
- Even though personal opinions are highlighted in subjective writing, it is better to show your train of thought if you want the reader to be convinced by your point of view.
# Creative Writing
Imagination or fiction is the key ingredient in this type of writing style. Creative writing derives many elements from Narrative writing and Descriptive writing to form a new genre. There are numerous examples of creative writing such as poems, stories, scripts, novels, copywriting, etc. Out of all the types of writing styles, creative writing is one of the most well-paid professions. This content writing format largely depends upon creativity as the main element to captivate the audience. Creativity is only bound by the limits of self-expression but to appeal to the reader is often more difficult than it seems.
Tips to improve Creative Writing Skills:
- Use literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and analogies to make your work more colorful.
- Try to bring uniqueness into your composition through the innovation of ideas and freshness of perspective.
- Improve your powers of observation and then try to recreate the same picture through words.
- Take breaks in between Creative writing spells and indulge in other types of writing styles such as Objective writing to restart again with renewed energy.
- If you are stuck with writer’s block, try mind mapping tools for generating new ideas.
- Take up a hobby to relax your senses between intense writing sessions.
- Last but not the least, read and reread some of your favorite books and imagine a different course of the plot.
# Review Writing
Review writing is similar to Subjective Writing because you present your own opinion about a product, service, or another literary work. For example, you are writing a review of a new phone. The purpose of writing a review is to inform the reader about the merits and demerits of the product. However, before you do that you need to introduce the product, its features, and general use. Next, it is better to support your opinion with some facts or evidence. You can also present a comparative study of similar phones of the same or other brands. The reader should be convinced that your opinion is based on sound facts and not just personal bias.
To view some examples of reviews, click here.
Tips to write good reviews:
- Make sure the review contains more than just your opinion. It should be useful and informative for the reader.
- Do not try to sell some other products while providing feedback on the product in question.
- Research on the topic of the review so that you are well informed about the reader’s expectations as well.
- Try to include both merits and demerits, so that the review does not seem one-sided.
- While mentioning negative aspects, also try to suggest how the product could have been better. This makes the review constructive.
There are numerous other types of writing styles but they broadly fall under the categories mentioned here. Some other widely used writing styles are Academic Writing, Technical Writing, Copywriting, and so on.
It is also worth mentioning that quite often the polished content derives various elements from multiple types of writing styles. For instance, we often write historical essays in a narrative format hence combining the Expository and Narrative Writing styles. Here the setting and plot are not fictional but based on facts. The other elements of Narrative writing are included as we introduce the conditions in the society, the series of small incidents that culminated towards a main historical event, followed by the outcome or impact of the event on our society. The writing styles are not exclusively used and often overlap to achieve the purpose of the content.
How to master the different types of writing styles?
No matter how good your writing skills, it is difficult to master all the writing styles equally. But you can certainly achieve a high level of proficiency.
Analyse your own writing skills to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Then work upon the desired skill set.
It is also a good idea to enroll in some Content Writing Courses from some reputed institutes to hone your writing skills. The courses help you to fully understand the different types of writing styles and the content writing format associated with each writing style. There are certain nuances that come only with practice and experience but you can get a head start by learning them early in your career as a writer. Also, it ensures that you do not form any destructive writing habits which would be difficult to unlearn later. There are numerous companies and organizations offering part-time and full-time courses. You can also choose from online courses and traditional classroom courses. An important aspect to ensure quality control is to enroll in an accredited course such as the Certified Digital Content Writing Course by Henry Harvin.
All things said and done, for me, writing is very therapeutic. When I started writing, it was on unsure grounds. Enrolling in a course provided me the necessary knowledge and in turn, boosted my confidence. Feedback is always welcome because life is nothing but a learning curve and if the change is inevitable, it is better to make it a positive change.