What do we mean by a writing style?
A writing style is a communication technique an author uses to express ideas and thoughts in such a way that is understandable and meaningful to the audience. The knowledge of these techniques and when to use them allows authors to connect with their target audiences in the best possible manner. For instance, if you are creating a commercial text, whose purpose is to advertise and sell goods – you will use one particular writing style. However, the same style will turn out to be completely ineffective for composing a narrative story for a group of children.
What types of writing styles are there?
In the English language, there are 4 generally accepted writing styles:
- Descriptive. The descriptive style pursues the goal of making the audience feel and see as if they are living through the story and events. Authors applying this writing technique often describe a bright picture using metaphors and allegories and aim to immerse their audience into the event, story, etc.
- Narrative. The narrative writing style takes the descriptive style one step further, by constructing a holistic writing piece including the introduction, the middle part, and the conclusion. This writing style has a well-defined plot and follows a clear storyline. The narrative style is often used in high school and college essays.
- Expository. The expository writing style is most commonly used to answer user, customer, or reader’s questions. As the name suggests, it exposes the reader to the topic, phenomenon, or subject. Expository writing style does not tolerate the writer’s opinion and thoughts – those should be clearly separated from the facts and arguments.
- Persuasive. This writing style is used to convince the reader of something, most often from the author’s point of view or opinion. A writer using this writing style aims to persuade the reader to trust and to believe in something.
Besides writing styles, there are 3 other very important elements, which define writing literacy: the author’s attitude to the topic, the author’s manner of presenting the material, and the rhythm of the text.
The author’s attitude to the topic
Although it is sometimes confused with the presentation of the material, there are a number of signs that will help you distinguish between them. First, these are the choice of vocabulary, the personal point of view of the writer, syntax (grammar, as well as the combination of words and phrases), and, finally, the formality of the text. So, the manner of presentation is a more generalized concept, while the attitude of the author is a more specialized one.
It is very easy to illustrate this with the help of different genres. If you are writing a business article, then, according to the rules of the genre, you will use business vocabulary, which assumes the absence of articles and prepositions in some cases. This allows you not to be diffused and lets your readers know exactly what you are saying.
However, if you write a note for a newspaper, chances are you will use informal language, slang words, acronyms, and colloquial expressions. For a business style this is absolutely unacceptable, but for an individual opinion – just right.
The author’s manner of presenting the material
Sometimes authors write lyrics in the same way as they speak in real life. In some cases, they even use an unusual and non-standard style of storytelling. Thanks to this technique, they can describe the feelings and thoughts of their characters.
Some writers’ manner of presentation is so specific that you can easily distinguish them from a number of other authors. The way they present their thoughts helps them to stand out from the crowd and be remembered by readers. Quite often, it also gives away their age, personality, taste preferences, and so on.
However, an author can change the manner of presentation in order to better convey the traits or feelings of their hero. Imagine that a writer needs to tell a story from the perspective of a 17th-century pastor. Of course, the era makes its imprint and restrictions on the style of speech – the writer simply cannot speak on behalf of a modern teenager.
Rhythm of text
Although rhythm is usually associated with fiction, it is also found in popular science works. Actually, it concerns how the length of sentences affects the perception of the text.
For example, short sentences mean that they will be read quickly, while long ones make you read more thoughtfully. The main thing is not to overuse one type of sentence, because diversity is most important in any text. The best approach is to match the sentence length with the manner of presentation. When an author knows how to correctly alternate different types of sentences, the material becomes more interesting and dynamic.