The 5 Types of Writing Styles with Examples
Learn about the major writing styles: narrative, descriptive, persuasive, expository, and creative, and read examples of each.
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Becoming a stronger writer, for work or for fun, isn’t as simple as just sitting down and putting words to paper. There are actually different types of writing that serve different purposes, and understanding the goal you’re trying to achieve—and the technique that will best serve it—will make your work stronger.
Read on to learn more about the five types of writing styles, when you should use each one, and how to improve your skills no matter which of the different types of writing you want to do.
The 5 Types of Writing Styles and Why You Should Master Each
1. narrative writing.
Narrative writing is storytelling at its most basic: it’s all about sharing something that happens to a character. It can be an epic tale or a small anecdote; it can span years of time or a few minutes; it can be fact or fiction.
Narrative writing uses many of the most common elements of storytelling , such as plot, character, setting, conflict, emotion, and a core message you’re trying to get across. There are also tried-and-true story archetypes or narrative structures you can use to shape your narrative writing, such as coming of age, rags to riches, or the hero’s journey.
While narrative writing can take a lot of forms, one thing is always true: You should be taking the reader on a journey with a beginning, middle, and end. Even if you’re just telling the story of a funny incident that happened to you yesterday, your character should start somewhere, run into some sort of conflict or interesting experience, and then ultimately reach a resolution.
When to Use Narrative Writing
Narrative writing is most commonly used in fiction and creative writing, but it can also be used in nonfiction to help make true stories more compelling to your reader. Whatever you’re writing, the narrative style is worth mastering because people tend to connect best with stories. For instance, you might use narrative writing in:
- Novels and short stories
- Creative essays
- Feature stories
- Presentations or speeches
Examples of Narrative Writing
Pick up any of your favorite novels and you’re sure to find narrative writing, but here are some great examples on the web, all of which are recommended reading by writer Noah Milligan in his Skillshare class on writing short stories :
- “ Disobedience ” by Noah Milligan
- “ Wounding Radius ” by Constance Squires
- “ You Are Going to Be a Good Man ” by George McCormick
2. Descriptive Writing
Descriptive writing involves capturing every detail of the place, person, or scene you’re writing about. The goal is to really immerse the reader in the experience, making them feel like they are there.
When trying to achieve a descriptive writing style, think of it as painting a picture with your words. What can you say to help the reader truly envision the subject in their mind’s eye? This usually involves crafting vivid descriptions using all five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. But it could also involve use of simile and metaphor to evoke a mood or feeling that’s too hard to capture with physical descriptors. This can help elevate your writing from a simple description to something that connects with others on a deeper level.
According to Skillshare teacher Kathy Fish , descriptive writing is about more than just making your story pretty. “Great description accomplishes four things. It immerses the reader and gives them a ‘felt experience.’ It also establishes, enhances, or changes the tone of the story. It can compel the reader forward into the story, especially if you include something that’s surprising or unexpected into your description. It can give the reader a sense of the internal state of your character.”
When to Use Descriptive Writing
Descriptive writing is most often in creative writing and can be used along with narrative writing to build scene and setting. It can occasionally be seen used in more formal writing to help explain an idea more deeply or get the reader to emotionally connect with the story you’re telling. Some examples of where you might use descriptive writing include:
- Poems or song lyrics
- Fiction , such as novels or short stories
- Copywriting, such as when describing a product or travel destination
- Narrative nonfiction, such as memoirs
Examples of Descriptive Writing
To see descriptive writing in action, check out some of this recommended reading from Kathy Fish’s Skillshare class on how to write descriptively :
- “ Syndication ” by Allegra Hyde
- “ The Sea Urchin ” by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello
- “ Summer Scalping; Scarecrows ” by Len Kuntz, Storyglossia
3. Persuasive Writing
Persuasive writing is all about getting your point across. The goal is to share your opinion in a thoughtful way—or, even better, to actually convince the reader of a viewpoint or idea. Whether you have a strong stance on an issue or need to inspire people to take action towards a cause, persuasive writing is the way to do it.
Of course, you can’t expect to simply state your viewpoint and have everyone convinced—you need to effectively back it up to bring the reader over to your side. There several main types of evidence in writing you can use when trying to persuade, including:
- Statistical evidence, such as hard facts or studies
- Anecdotal evidence, such as personal experiences or interviews
- Testimonial evidence, such as quotes from experts in the subject
- Textual evidence, such as passages from books or primary sources
Whatever evidence you use, it’s often best to keep emotions at bay in persuasive writing. While sharing a bit of your personal story can help build a compelling argument, too much emotion could cloud your key points and turn the reader off. Instead, try and think from the reader’s point of view and ask yourself: What are the most important things I could say to help convince them?
When to Use Persuasive Writing
Persuasive writing is often found in nonfiction and is almost never used in fiction. It’s particularly worth mastering if you do any kind of business writing—even just drafting emails to your colleagues!—since clearly convincing people of your ideas or point of view can be so valuable at work. You’ll also see persuasive writing used in:
- Speeches or presentations
- Copywriting for conversion
- Sales writing
- Cover letters
- Letters of recommendation
Example of Persuasive Writing
For some examples of persuasive writing, check out this suggested reading from author Sara Eckel’s class on writing persuasive essays :
- “ Smart, Educated and Skilled—But Stuck at Home ” by Kavita Krishnan
- “ Why I Love Political Canvassing ” by Sara Eckel
- “ Many of the Soldiers Securing Our Border Are Immigrants Who Are Proud to Defend the U.S. ” by Adebayo Adeleke
4. Expository Writing
Expository writing exists to explain a subject or inform about a particular topic area. The goal is simply to teach the reader something.
Expository writing should aim to answer any questions a reader might have about a subject: think about the classic who, what, why, when, how questions. You want to lay everything out clearly, avoiding any jargon or overly technical language that may confuse people. Try to approach expository writing from a beginner’s mindset to make your piece as useful as possible.
Most importantly, keep your emotions and opinions about a subject out of it. Unlike persuasive writing, expository writing shouldn’t have an angle or agenda—just the facts.
When to Use Expository Writing
Learning how to write in this style is valuable if you ever need to teach through writing, even if that’s just training your colleague on a particular process. While historically expository writing was mostly considered an academic style, you can now see it all over the web, with content marketing blogs and how-to articles teaching readers how to master all manner of skills. For instance, you’ll see expository writing in:
- How-to or “explainer” articles
- Help center articles, FAQ pages, or other copy explaining how something works
- Technical or business writing
- Training materials
Examples of Expository Writing
This blog post is a classic example of expository writing—it’s here to share the facts and teach you something! Beyond that, here are a few more places to find expository writing:
- Google “how to do” anything and read the articles that come up.
- Vox “explainer” articles
5. Creative Writing
As with any artistic medium, the rules are really only there to be broken—and creative writing is any writing that exists outside of the styles above, or even combines the styles in surprising new ways. The goal of creative writing is really to find new ways to tell stories that can surprise and delight readers.
When it comes to creative writing, you can let yourself literally rewrite the rules of what great writing can be. You could try a new format or structure that you haven’t seen before. You could bring other languages or multimedia elements into your work. Let yourself have fun with it!
When to Use Creative Writing
The purpose of creative writing is really for you to experiment with your craft! Here are some ideas of where you might see creative writing:
- Humor writing or satire
- Flash fiction
- Creative nonfiction
- Data journalism
Examples of Creative Writing
If you’re looking for inspiration for your own creative writing, here are a few places to explore the unique ways other writers are pushing the boundaries:
- The Pudding
- The New York Times multimedia stories
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A Guide to the 5 Different Types of Writing Styles You Should Know
We see writing wherever we go, but is all writing the same? Of course not. There are different types of writing styles for different situations, and knowing how and where to best use them is an important step in becoming a better writer.
But what are the most common types of writing, and how are they different from each other? In this article, we’ll go through different types of writing, how they’re used, and why writers use one writing style over another. We’ll also go through different types of literature examples to give you some ideas on how to put together your next writing masterpiece, whether you’re learning how to write a short story or your first speech.
Poetry vs. prose
When it comes to writing, one big dividing line is poetry and prose. Poetry is a type of writing that expresses ideas through the sounds and rhythms of words. Poems are divided into verses and, sometimes, groups of verses called stanzas.
What is poetry?
Early poetry was quite formulaic. That meant that poets needed to follow very clear rules about how a poem should look and read. Epic poetry, narrative poetry, limericks, and haikus are examples of poetic forms that follow strict rules. And if you’ve ever read a sonnet by Shakespeare, you know that learning to write sonnet poetry is its own special skill.
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Modern poetry is less strict about following rules. But while modern poetic forms such as free verse and blank verse may not look like the poetry we’re used to, they still use poetic devices, such as a rhythm and beats, to emphasize certain words and thoughts.
What is prose?
Prose, on the other hand, is simply any writing that isn’t poetry. Novels, essays, short stories, news articles, and research reports are all examples of prose. Prose is typically divided into five common types of writing: expository, narrative, persuasive, descriptive, and creative.
5 different types of writing styles
1. expository writing.
The purpose of expository writing is to explain a topic or subject to the reader. Expository writers often aim to answer six simple questions about the topic: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
After readers finish an expository piece, they should be able to understand the facts about a topic. Expository writers shouldn’t include their own personal views and opinions about the topic, but rather, they should allow readers to form their own opinions based on objective information.
Expository writing can be tricky because the writer needs to know who the readers might be. For example, someone asked you to write an expository piece about how a computer works. If you knew that you were writing for children, your explanation would be much simpler than if it were for adults. And if you knew that you were writing for professional computer engineers, you would use many more technical words in your writing. That’s the goal of expository writing — to explain something in a way that your readers can understand.
Examples of expository writing include:
- News articles
- Scientific reports
- Research findings
- Academic writing
- Case studies
2. Narrative writing
If you’re writing your first book , then you probably want to focus on narrative writing. The goal of narrative writing is to tell people what happened somewhere or to someone. Narrative writing can be objective if the writer describes a simple timeline of events. But readers often love to learn about how people feel as events unfold. The chain of events within a narrative is called a plot when it’s in a novel or short story.
Narrative writing is usually organized in time. In other words, events that happen earlier in the narrative come first. But some writers, especially novelists, like to change when the readers find out about certain parts of the narrative. Literary devices such as dramatic irony, plot twists, and surprise endings all depend on the writer changing when and how the reader learns about the narrative.
Narrative writing can be fiction or nonfiction. Nonfiction narrative writing concerns real events. Fictional narrative writing is completely made up. And sometimes, an author writes a fictional narrative that includes real past events (historical fiction).
Examples of narrative writing include:
- Short stories
3. Persuasive writing
Sometimes, a writer doesn’t want to explain a topic or talk about a narrative of events, but rather get the reader to do something or think a certain way. Persuasive writing helps writers convince the reader that a certain opinion or idea is the best one.
Persuasive writers use a variety of literary devices and tools to convince their audience. One tool is to cite evidence that supports the writer’s view, such as:
- Statistical evidence from research
- Anecdotal evidence from personal observations and past experience
- Testimonial evidence from witnesses and experts
- Textual evidence from books and primary sources
Other times, persuasive writers may rely on moral arguments, character judgments, or religious beliefs to support their point of view. But whether the persuasive writer relies on objective or subjective arguments, they should organize their arguments so that readers can easily follow them and (hopefully) come to the same conclusions.
Examples of persuasive writing include:
- Political campaign speeches
- Debate speeches
- Op-eds and opinion columns
- Letters of motivation for a job position
- Recommendation letters
- Sales and marketing materials
4. Descriptive writing
Have you ever “stopped and smelled the roses?” Where were you? What did the smell like? What thoughts and emotions came to mind? Descriptive writers answer questions like these to help the readers imagine what it’s like to be in a certain place or situation.
The descriptive writing style uses many literary devices to evoke the feelings and emotions of the scene. It’s here where writers might use a simile and metaphor, imagery, or onomatopoeia. Writers often combine descriptive writing with other writing styles to get the reader to stop and focus on one scene or idea. For example, a novel that uses mostly narrative writing may suddenly switch to descriptive writing for an important scene.
It’s rare for a single piece to include only descriptive writing, but descriptive writing is often included in:
- Sales and marketing materials to describe a product or service
5. Creative writing
Creative writing exists outside of all of the other writing methods above. A creative writer may choose to incorporate some of the traditional writing styles, all of them, or none of them. But like all other writers, creative writers aim to share an idea or emotion with readers.
Creative writers typically use words to share a message, but modern creative writers may also include images, audio, and video as part of their work.
Types of literature
We’ve gone over different styles and methods of writing, but how do writers put it all together to come up with something new? Below are the most common types of literature that writers create.
Plays, movies, and TV shows
Plays, also known as dramatic literature, are written to be spoken aloud by different readers to an audience on a stage. Each reader represents a different character in the story, and the writer organizes the play by instructing what each character should say. Playwrights also include notes about the play that aren’t meant to be spoken. These notes could include instructions about where the characters should be standing, how they should read their lines, and how the stage should look.
The modern extension of the play is the movie and TV script. Like playwrights, writers for movies and TV shows instruct characters what to say and how they should say it.
Political campaign and debate speeches
Just because someone is talking doesn’t mean that it doesn’t count as writing. After all, most great speeches were written down before they were spoken. Political speeches are a great example of this. Most politicians work with teams of professional speechwriters to help them deliver moving speeches. In fact, professional speechwriters may be the most influential writers that you never hear about.
People who write commentaries like to write about writing. In other words, not only are commentary writers great writers, but they’re great readers too. Commentaries include notes about writing in the past that help explain what the original author meant with a certain word or in a certain passage. Commentary writers may also try to use the text to promote a particular viewpoint or interpretation. Thus, commentary writers combine different writing styles in their work.
Considered the “newspaper” of your life, diaries detail what happened during the day — who you saw or met, what you did, where you went, etc. Usually, diary entries don’t focus on the emotions or insights involved. That usually begins the journaling process, where you state what your opinion was on such a person, how you felt about the things you did, and so on. You can use a diary as notes for your autobiography.
Writing a diary is similar to writing a journal, but the main difference is that diaries focus on the basic details. Again, they tend to focus more on the Who? What? Where? and When? of your life.
The journal being discussed in this portion is not a published journal of medicine or a fancy term for a nonfiction magazine. The journal discussed in this section is a personal journal that you may or may not share with others. Writing a journal can help you deal with issues in your life, or it can give you idea fodder for fiction pieces to write.
Once you have a collection of memories in your journal, you can start writing a memoir or just keep those entries for yourself to look through when you want to remember something about your life.
This particular form of writing is a personal account of a person’s life written by the same person. These can also be written as personal memoirs. Writing an autobiography can be a great experience. If you’re interested, consider keeping a diary and/or journal so that you have plenty of notes when you go back to write your autobiography later in your life.
Book reviews play an important role for writers of books. A good book review can change the future of the book by driving more publicity and more book sales. A bad review can discourage people from reading it or even causing the book to be pulled from shelves and online stores.
There are two types of character sketches. One involves the creation of a character , usually with questions and answers, for your creative writing. There are also academic assignments that involve creating a sketch of another author’s character, which is usually designed to help you create your own characters.
Even if your creative writing is an autobiography, you should consider creating a character sketch for any and all characters you plan to use. It’s also a good idea to consider a brief character sketch when writing a book review. Write it on your favorite character from the book.
If you’ve ever read the funnies in the newspaper, you’re familiar with comic strips. They are drawings that follow in a sequence to detail a story. While there’s more art involved than prose, there is still some writing involved for them. If you’re considering comic strips, you might want to work on your drawing skills in addition to your writing skills.
Ready to start writing?
Whether you’re learning to write your first novel or planning to become the next great speechwriter, it’s important to start writing something — anything! Remember that what you write doesn’t have to be perfect. But with some time, patience, practice, and a little help from an online writing course , you can be well on your way to a new writing career.
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Your audience and writing purpose will determine your writing style. The four main types of writing styles are persuasive, narrative, expository, and descriptive. In this blog post, we’ll briefly explore the defining features of these four writing styles. For more help using these writing styles, schedule an appointment at the GWC!
Persuasive: For this writing style, the writer is trying to convince the reader of the validity of a certain position or argument. Persuasive writing includes the writers’ opinions, and provides justifications and evidence to support their claims.
Examples: Letters of recommendation; cover letters; Op-Eds and Editorial newspaper articles; argumentative essays for academic papers
Narrative: Often seen in longer writing samples, the purpose of this writing style is to share information in the context of a story. Narratives should include characters, conflicts, and settings.
Examples: Short stories; novels; poetry; historical accounts
Expository: This type of writing is used to explain a concept and share information to a broader audience. Expository writing provides evidence, statistics, or results and focuses on the facts of a certain topic. This type is not meant to express opinions.
Examples: How-to articles; textbooks; news stories (not editorials or Op-Eds); business, technical, or scientific writing
Descriptive: This type of writing is used to depict imagery to create a clear picture in the mind of the reader. This method helps the readers become more connected to the writing by appealing to their senses. Descriptive writing employs literary techniques such as similes, metaphors, allegory, etc to engage the audience.
Examples: Poetry; fictional novels or plays; memoirs or first-hand accounts of events
*This post was adapted from “Types of Writing Styles” by Robin Jeffrey.
Blog post prepared by Danielle Perry, GWC tutor. Published January 27, 2020.
The 5 Most Commonly Taught Writing Styles
Writing is critical to every single subject. Even mathematics often calls for argumentation in written form , especially in disciplines such as statistics.
By placing a significantly higher emphasis on a variety of writing types, we can help address the challenges regarding student writing proficiency . This is especially important in the middle school years, when students are transitioning from the foundational skills they learned in elementary school to the deeper levels of thinking required in high school and beyond.
If you have a teaching degree, it’s likely you’ve already learned about or taught many of the following types of writing styles. Whether you’re familiar with all of them or need to brush up on several, there are guaranteed to be new approaches with which you’re not yet familiar. That’s the goal of this post: to give you the tools you need to maximize your students’ learning experience, writing skills and persuasive power.
A little time taken today can substantially improve the value of your writing exercises tomorrow, so read on!
The Most Common Types of Writing Styles
The most common types of writing styles differ from their intended purpose to their structure to the level of emotional appeal for which they call. Understanding how each of these categories contributes to each type of writing will help you teach students to express themselves more proficiently, as well as reach higher levels of proficiency on state and national tests.
Here are the five most common types of writing styles, a quick exploration of each and some new strategies for teaching them.
- NARRATIVE WRITING
We Are Teachers defines narrative writing as “writing that is characterized by a main character in a setting who engages with a problem or event in a significant way. As writing instruction goes, narrative writing encompasses a lot: author’s purpose, tone, voice, structure, in addition to teaching sentence structure, organization, and word choice.”
You can assign students a wide variety of narrative writing assignments, from personal narrative to fiction to “fan fiction,” or stories that use main characters from books students love. For instance, a student could write a short story about one of Harry Potter’s untold side adventures.
As the above definition indicates, there are a number of elements required in good narrative writing. To weave together a compelling story, students must choose:
- A theme, or the main “human” idea that they want to convey
- A main character with a minimum number of well-defined personality traits
- Side characters, if the length and complexity of the story allows (for instance, a narrative capstone project might have 2-3 secondary characters)
- A setting or multiple settings in which the story takes place
- A particular structure – the style in which they will tell their story – with the various narrative elements represented: dialogue, description, action
- Literary elements, such as symbolism, simile and metaphor
- Vocabulary words, depending on your desires and requirements as a teacher
Teaching students to weave all of these elements together will take time, which is why each lesson should cover no more than one of the above. As students check off each item, they can incorporate it with the ones above. Eventually, the result will be a well-fleshed-out story they can be proud to share with the class and their family.
- ANALYTICAL WRITING
Bloom’s Taxonomy , a friend to all teachers and critical pedagogical guide, lists analysis in the top half of the pyramid. That’s because the ability to look at a statement, argument, character or theme and decide whether or not it has merit – and why it does or does not – is a necessary skill in secondary school, college and career.
This ability requires first identifying and then dissecting the subject at hand, after which the student can offer an argument about its meaning and merit.That’s where analytical writing comes in.
As the Educational Testing Service explains about the GRE,
“The Analytical Writing measure tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge.”
While one might assume that postgraduates taking entrance exams are at a significantly different learning point than middle schoolers (which they are), the similarities between the skills needed then and needed in 7th grade are nearly identical. In fact, having those skills in later life is largely dependent on middle school teachers developing them now.
Note, however, that analytical writing is not pure explanation or description (as we will encounter in the next writing style). Instead, it requires that students read and comprehend either fiction or nonfiction, explain what is happening, and then analyze a particular facet of what they’ve read.
Analytical writing requires developing a thesis that supports their main claim, backing it up with proof from the text, and concluding with a summary that wraps the two together.
As with all forms of writing, it’s important to teach this skill slowly, starting with reading critically, identifying a thesis, finding evidence and tying it together in a paper – as well as peer examination of others’ analytical writing. It is also helpful to give examples of analytical theses, such as:
- Mockingjays from The Hunger Games are symbols of freedom, because they are genetically engineered species that have broken free from the Capitol, just as Katniss has
- The main theme of To Build a Fire is that nature is merciless and unforgiving
- Anne Frank’s arguments against war are so powerful because she herself is devoid of hatred
Help students understand that while the analysis can be opinion-based, students do need to back up everything they say with passages from the reading.
- EXPOSITORY WRITING
Expository writing, as the title suggests, is predicated on exposition, or the description and explanation of a particular idea. Topics cover pretty much the entire gamut of human experience, from inventions to nature, emotions to politics, family to hobbies and more.
Teachers can challenge students to pick their own subjects or can give them categories from which to choose or assign specific subjects. Each of these options helps develop a different skill set in kids.
There exist a number of good ways to develop expository writing skills, suggests The New York Times .
For one thing, it’s time to ditch the tired five-paragraph essay and write from a more “authentic” place. That means placing primary emphasis not on an introduction, three-body exposition and conclusion, but rather on what the piece calls for. Encourage students to take as many paragraphs as they need to express their idea well, and to be creative in their intros and conclusions.
In teaching your students, ask them questions such as:
- What’s the “newsworthy” piece of this paper?
- How can you introduce your piece other than giving away that newsworthy element upfront?
- How can you conclude it without simply rehashing the above information?
- What techniques can you use to vary sentence structure and make for a more interesting read?
- How can you incorporate supporting material in an engaging way?
While some of the techniques may feel a little advanced at first, almost all of them can be broken down into simple directions that middle school students can make use of.
- PERSUASIVE WRITING
“Persuasive writing is a form of nonfiction writing that encourages careful word choice, the development of logical arguments, and a cohesive summary,” as Reading Rocket explains. Note that there are two main components of persuasive writing: logic and emotional appeal.
Logic comes first in persuasive writing. In order to have any chance of convincing people, students have to develop a sound premise. That means choosing a topic and backing it up with good logic.
Give them examples, such as: Everyone should keep their cats indoors, because there are many dangers to cats outside . They can then expand on these dangers (coyotes, racoons, rabies) to convince people.
Help students understand that this topic should have an opposing stance. Simply stating that ‘we shouldn’t do wrong things’ isn’t a good stance, because it’s too vague and no one would argue against it.
Next, it’s time to work in sympathy. Persuading people relies heavily on reaching them emotionally. Not only must your point make sense, but you need to make them feel what you’re saying in their hearts as well as their minds.
For this reason, students should choose a topic or stance about which they feel passionate. They can save more formal academic positions for argumentative writing.
Speaking of which: Argumentative writing is the close cousin of persuasive writing, though as we shall soon see, it is not the same thing.
- ARGUMENTATIVE WRITING
At first blush, many people confuse persuasive and argumentative writing. This is common among teachers as well as laypeople, so if you’re scratching your head, don’t feel bad.
The main difference between persuasive and argumentative writing, as Empowering Writers explains, is that:
“While persuasive writing can get by with a heartfelt emotional appeal or a well-defended opinion, argumentative writing must cite scientific studies, statistics and quotes from experts. It also highlights evidence that the author has generated with his/her own surveys and questionnaires.”
The good news is that, in teaching persuasive writing, you can simultaneously teach kids the scientific method and statistical analysis by having them design and examine the results of questionnaires. Adds the above source, “You’ll find that writing those questionnaires or surveys and collecting responses from their classmates is not only fun for kids, but it encourages active learning and positive social interaction.”
Argumentative writing, calls for several elements:
- A formal writing style, typically in the third person
- Well-researched facts from reliable sources (this, by the way, is a good time to discuss why sites like Wikipedia are good as a starting point but not as final sources)
- Argumentation predicated on those facts
- An overall claim of which the writer is trying to convince the reader
When designing argumentative writing curricula and lessons, introduce students to the structure slowly. Their instinct is typically toward arguing for what they believe based on emotional appeal, but you can point out that they’ll have a chance to do this with persuasive writing. Instead, lead them through the process with the following steps:
- Research an interest area
- Choose a position or argument based on the results of that research
- Collect sources (assign a specific number, usually around 3-5) from which to draw facts
- Craft the flow of the argument, from initial statement of position through supporting facts (one per paragraph is a good approach) to conclusion
- Conclude by both restating the argument and leaving the reader with a good reason to think about it, such as a story or quote
The Writing Way: Implement These Strategies Today
So why wait any longer to implement smart and relatively simple new strategies into your writing time? By selecting and teaching the above skills a little more often – not to mention weaving them into other subjects more often – you can substantially improve your students’ writing abilities.
One caveat, though: Don’t attempt to incorporate all of these strategies at once. You’re a teacher; you have a long career and many moldable minds ahead of you.
Take your time to deepen your familiarity with each type of writing one by one. Incorporate one new strategy per lesson plan, and no more. You can even work to develop your teaching approach to one style of writing per year to avoid teacher burnout .
And lastly, take heart. There is something you can do to help improve the state of the American education system, one lesson at a time, one paper at a time, one child at a time. Keep these tips in mind and do your best, and you’ll do just fine.
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13 Types Of Writing Every Writer Should Master
Do you want to take your writing skills to the next level? Learn the types of writing you can try for your job or fun.
As someone who makes a living writing for other people’s websites, I often adapt my writing style for different audiences and situations. The way I write conveys meaning beyond the words I use or what I say. Some forms of writing paint a picture, convince a reader to act or communicate facts while using reliable sources.
Choosing from the different types of writing and adapting to the requirements of a professor, business, or client is crucial to writing success. Below, I’ll share the different types of writing you can practice to become a better writer .
1. Expository Writing
2. narrative writing, 3. persuasive writing, 4. descriptive writing, 5. technical writing, 6. diary writing, 7. business writing, 8. copywriting, 8. content writing, 10. critical writing, 11. scientific writing, 12. travel writing, 13. blogging, the final word on types of writing, faqs about types of writing.
Expository writing focuses on providing facts and research about a given topic. In this writing style, you’ll explore an idea in detail and expand on that idea using factual statements.
When writing an expository essay, you don’t seek to prove a point, persuade, or evoke emotions. Your goal is to explain something in an objective and balanced way. Here are some examples of expository writing you’re probably familiar with, whether you’ve written them or read them:
- Journalistic articles
- How-to manuals
- Assembly instructions
Can you see how inserting opinion, bias, or emotion into these types of writing could be problematic? Read our guide to the best essay writing topics .
Stories are everywhere around you and provide ample opportunity for you to express your imagination.
In narrative writing, you tell a story that’s 100 per cent truthful, primarily factual but embellished for reader enjoyment or fiction. Stories are everywhere around you and provide ample opportunity for you to express your imagination.
Examples of the narrative style include:
- Biographies and autobiographies
- Short stories
- Narrative journalism
The journalist Hunter S. Thompson popularised this type of writing in his articles and essays, whereby his journalism often reads like a novel. If you’d like to learn more about this style, read our guide to narrative essays .
In a persuasive essay, your goal is to convince the reader to agree with you through strategic argumentation. To accomplish this, you employ various argumentation techniques like presenting supporting evidence for your argument, laying out points in a logical order that slowly generates buy-in from the reader, and telling a story that evokes emotion to make the case.
Examples of persuasive writing include:
- Advertisements and marketing campaigns
- Cover letters
- Letters of recommendation
- Business proposals
- Persuasive essays
- Persuasive social media posts
- Persuasive journalism
Politicians and leaders use persuasive writing to popularize ideas like Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope . If you’d like to learn more, read our guide to persuasive essays .
Descriptive writing is a type of writing style that overlaps with others in this list. It’s one of the most common types of writing as students often write descriptive essays in school.
One of the essential concepts in descriptive writing is to “show, not tell”. Rather than simply saying what happened, explain the how and the why behind it to paint a picture. You’ll use numerous literary devices to accomplish this, such as:
For this writing style, you’ll choose a point of view to relate to readers. The POV can change the tone of the piece, with the third-person often sounding more formal and objective, while the first and second can seem informal. You may need a combination of more than one POV for the piece to work. Examples of POV usage:
- First-person – I, We (e.g., Moby Dick, Hunger Games)
- Second person – You, Understood You (e.g., most blog posts, choose your adventure books, assembly instructions )
- Third-person – He, She, It, They (e.g., Harry Potter, Journalistic Articles )
If you’d like to learn more, read our guide to descriptive essays .
Technical writing involves communicating something complex in a way the audience can understand. To accomplish this, the technical writer must have in-depth knowledge of the topic they’re explaining and an understanding of the audience’s level of experience.
Technical writing is devoid of personal opinions. Instead, it explains a topic or concept step-by-step or logically. Examples of technical writing include:
- Research papers
- Legal documents
- Some textbooks
- White papers
- Academic writing
- Medical journals
- Technical documentation for products and software
If you’d like to learn more, read our guide explaining how to become a technical writer . We also like this technical writing course for engineers from Google .
Diary writing is a more personal form of writing intended to log events in a person’s life and often their emotions. If you think you might be famous someday, keeping diaries could one day be resource materials for your auto-biography!
That point aside, many people use diaries as an external way to process how they’re feeling to deal with anger, regret, grief, fear, jealousy, and sadness. It’s cheaper than therapy.
Diary writing can be a positive experience. People often write about what they’re grateful for, express their joy around fortuitous events in their life, or set life goals and celebrate accomplishments.
Examples of diary writing include
- The Diary of Anne Frank
- Leonardo Da Vinci’s diaries
- Charles Darwin’s diaries
- Marie Curie’s notebooks
Read our guide explaining the differences between a diary and a journal .
Business writing is a commonly misunderstood type of writing. Many consider business writing stuffy and formal, but it’s a stimulating and well-paying field. A business writer follows a company style guide to convey an idea or concept for internal and, sometimes, external use.
For example, a business writer could take notes from an executive and turn them into a compelling business case for the wider team. They could also articulate the values of a business in everyday concise language for a presentation, pitch deck or company manifesto.
Copywriting describes using words to sell products and services to a target audience. A copywriter produces copy for websites, sales pages and email funnels. They aim to convince readers to act, for example, opting in for a lead magnet with their email address, taking out a trial or buying a product.
A copywriter can also branch into related areas like social media and content writing. Copywriters can earn high-five and even six figures annually by providing this service to companies or clients.
The art of copywriting involves holding the attention of readers. For this reason, it’s a valuable skill for those writing online. A good copywriting formula can help a writer finish an article or blog post quicker.
Learn how to become a copywriter .
Content writing is similar to copywriting. A content writer produces blog posts, articles, ebooks and guides for companies or online businesses. They may also write YouTube video scripts and social media posts.
A content writer typically charges clients a per-word rate, usually between four and ten cents, depending on the complexity of the topic. Content writing has become more popular for freelancers because most online businesses thrive on content.
A well-run niche website, for example, publishes a set number of SEO-optimized articles each month to increase traffic and revenue. The owner of this site depends on a team of knowledgeable content writers to achieve their publication and revenue goals.
If you’d like to try this discipline, read our guide explaining what does a content writer do ?
Poetry is something most writers try for fun. It’s a surprisingly rewarding discipline as a writer can play around with words, imagery and sensory language. Usually, an aspiring poet isn’t trying their hand at this type of writing to supplement their income. Instead, it’s a creative challenge.
Perhaps the most accessible type of poetry to start with is Haiku. It’s a type of Japanese poetry whereby the first line contains five syllables, the second 7 and the third 5. For example, consider this ancient Haiku by Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō:
An old silent pond A frog jumps into the pond— Splash! Silence again.
Haiku is only one form of poetry to explore. Read our guide to the most common types of poetry .
A critic considers a piece of popular media and analyzes it for a general audience. The most obvious example is a film critic who watches a film and then explains, in newspaper articles or online, if readers should watch it.
Critical writing is often subjective rather than objective in that it’s written from the reviewer’s point of view. After all, one person’s art is another’s trash! However, writing reviews requires deep knowledge and understanding of the topic or medium in question… or at least an ability to entertain readers with your point of view.
Popular forms of critical writing include:
- Film reviews
- Game reviews
- Music reviews
For more, learn how to get paid to write reviews .
Scientific writing involves writing literature reviews, papers for peer-reviewed journals and even grant proposals. They read the prevailing literature about a topic, review current thinking and then provide a synopsis and evaluation. A scientific writer backs up their argument or points with evidence and citations. Ideally, a scientific writer demonstrates precision, clarity and objectivity.
However, they’re usually writing for an expert audience who understands the topic, prevailing literature, or works in the field. Therefore a scientific writer doesn’t always have to explain basic concepts and ideas as they can assume their audience knows the basics.
Travel writing describes writing about your experiences while visiting a country, city or location. It sounds like a glamorous profession because you get paid to go on holiday!
However, professional travel writers are often under strict deadlines and have to see and do as much as possible in a short period. That often cuts out any socializing. Travel writers also face competition from locals who can write about a location with more expertise than a visitor. Travel writers can earn a nice side income by blogging and writing about their trips online.
For more, read our guide explaining how to become a travel writer .
Blogging is an immensely rewarding form of writing that started in 1997. If you’re going to start a blog today, expect competition. Reportedly over 600 million blogs exist worldwide.
However, a writer can find success more easily if they write within a specific niche about topics readers are searching for, rather than their day or personal lives. The best blogs are self-hosted on WordPress and monetized through display advertising, affiliate promotions, and digital products.
To learn more, read our guide to blogging for writers .
Writers can explore many different styles, from creative to commercial. Selecting the right one depends on the reader, editor, publication and your writing goals . If you’re bored with one style, you can always try another for fun or to flex your creative muscles.
How Do I Choose The Right Writing Style For A Piece?
Consider your audience and the style guide for the publication in question. Identify what type of writing the editor expects for this topic, publication, situation, or brand. Consider how your piece can inform, educate, inspire or entertain readers.
How Can I Learn To Write In Various Styles?
One of the best ways to learn writing styles is to read examples of them. Notice how the writer grabs your attention, unfolds their main points, and communicates with you along the way. Then practice, and ask someone–preferably a writer–to give you some feedback.
How Important Is Grammar In Writing?
Proper grammar enhances communication, while incorrect grammar and spelling can lead to confusion. For some audiences, bad grammar may reflect poorly on your attention to detail or intelligence. Unless you’re intentionally using “bad” grammar as a device to connect with the audience, you should generally avoid it.
Be extra careful about mixing up homonyms, misspelling words, or creating ambiguous sentences. Don’t trust your ability to proofread your work without help. Use a grammar and spell-checker like Grammarly , which has a basic version that’s free of charge.
Other online tools like Hemingway Editor and Yoast Content Analysis can help you refine your writing skills by pointing out, for example, if you overuse passive tense, adverbs, or long sentences.
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Bryan Collins runs things around here. He's also a non-fiction writer and author.
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Learn the Types of Writing: Expository, Descriptive, Persuasive, and Narrative
Whether you write essays, business materials, fiction, articles, letters, or even just notes in your journal, your writing will be at its best if you stay focused on your purpose. While there are many reasons why you might be putting pen to paper or tapping away on the keyboard, there are really only four main types of writing : expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative .
Each of these four writing genres has a distinct aim, and they all require different types of writing skills . You may also have heard them referred to in an academic setting as modes of discourse or rhetorical modes . Institutions of higher learning teach nine traditional rhetorical modes, but the majority of pieces we are called upon to write will have one of these four main purposes.
Here’s a tip: You don’t have to guess whether you’re using certain words correctly or breaking grammar rules in your writing. Just copy and paste your writing into our Grammar Checker and get instant feedback on whether your sentences have misspellings, punctuation errors, or any structural mistakes.
The word expository contains the word expose , so the reason expository is an apt descriptor for this type of writing is that it exposes, or sets forth, facts. It is probably the most common writing genre you will come across throughout your day. In an expository piece, a topic will be introduced and laid out in a logical order without reference to the author’s personal opinions.
Expository writing can be found in:
Textbooks Journalism (except for opinion and editorial articles) Business writing Technical writing Essays Instructions
All of these kinds of writing are expository because they aim to explain and inform.
The municipal government of Happyville unanimously approved the construction of sixty-two miles of bike trails in 2017. Made possible by a new tax levy, the bike trails are expected to help the city reach its sustainability and clean air goals while reducing traffic and congestion. Eighteen trailheads with restrooms and picnic areas have been planned at a variety of access points. The city expects construction to be complete in April 2021.
Because this paragraph supplies the reader with facts and figures about its topic, the new bike trails, without offering the author’s opinion on it, it is expository.
The aim of descriptive writing is to help the reader visualize, in detail, a character, event, place, or all of these things at once. The author might describe the scene in terms of all five senses. Descriptive writing allows the writer a great deal more artistic freedom than expository writing does.
Descriptive writing can be found in:
Fiction Poetry Advertising Journal and diary writing
The children pedaled leisurely down the Happyville Bike Trail, their giggles and whoops reverberating through the warm spring air. Sweet-scented wildflowers brought an array of color to the gently undulating landscape, tempting the children to dismount now and then so they could lay down in the springy, soft grass.
Through description, this passage paints a vivid picture of a scene on the new bike trail.
The aim of persuasive writing, or argumentation, is to influence the reader to assume the author’s point of view. The author will express personal opinions in the piece and arm him- or herself with evidence so that the reader will agree with him or her.
Persuasive writing can be found in:
Advertising Opinion and editorial pieces Reviews Job applications
The bike trail is the glittering gem of Happyville’s new infrastructure. It winds through sixty-two miles of lush landscape, dotted by clean and convenient facilities. If you haven’t experienced the Happyville Bike Trail yet, ditch your car and head outside! Could life in Happyville get any more idyllic?
A number of statements in this paragraph are opinion rather than fact: that the bike trail is a glittering gem, that the facilities are clean and convenient, and that life in Happyville is idyllic. Clearly, the author’s aim here is to use these depictions to persuade readers to use the bike trail.
The purpose of narrative writing is to tell a story, whether that story is real or imaginary. Pieces in a narrative style will have characters, and through the narrative, the reader learns what happens to them. Narrative writing can also include dialogue.
Narrative writing can be found in:
All types of fiction (e.g., novels, short stories, novellas) Poetry Biographies Human interest stories Anecdotes
As I cycled down the trail, I heard children giggling and whooping just around the bend. I crested a small hill and coasted down the curving path until I found the source of the noise. Three little girls sat in the grass by a big oak tree. They were startled to see me, and I smiled kindly to put them at ease.
“Whatcha doing?” I asked.
“Nothing,” they chirped in unison.
In this passage, the author sets the scene on the bike trail from his or her own point of view (which is referred to as narrating in the first person ). Using both description and dialogue, the story that takes place is laid out in chronological order.
Understanding Your Purpose Empowers Your Writing
Simply puzzling out which of these four types of writing best suits your purpose and adhering to it can help you write more efficiently and effectively.
- Expository writing sets forth facts. You can find it in textbooks, journalism (except opinion or editorial articles), business writing, technical writing, essays, and instructions.
- Descriptive writing evokes images through rich description. You can find it in fiction, poetry, journal writing, and advertising.
- Persuasive writing aims to sway the reader toward the author’s point of view. It is used heavily in advertising, and can also be found in opinion and editorial pieces, reviews, and job applications.
- Narrative writing tells a story. It can be found in fiction, poetry, biographies, human interest stories, and anecdotes.
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What are the 5 types of writing?
Whether you write journals, autobiographies, poetry, reviews, or textbooks, understanding your purpose empowers your writing. Your writing style reflects your personality, how you present yourself to a specific audience, and your distinctiveness. Every writer aims to achieve different objectives with their writing: from describing places and personalities, to explaining the workings of something, or influencing people’s opinions. In the academic realm, these writing styles are described as modes of discourse. Nowadays, there are tools like a word counter that can also help you keep track of a piece’s length for a more effective delivery of your intended message.
If you keep focused on your goal, your writing will be at its finest. While there are numerous motivations for penning down your thoughts or tapping away on the computer, most students seek professional writing services due to lack of time and skills.
There are only five significant sorts of writing: Persuasive Writing, Descriptive Writing, Narrative Writing, Expository Writing, and Creative Writing. Other subcategories combine two or more styles of writing to form a new style. Suppose you want to pursue writing as a profession or just improve your writing abilities; you need to be familiar with at least a few distinct writing styles, such as Technical Writing, Objective Writing, and Subjective Writing.
It is therefore essential to identify each writing category to help you understand which one best resonates with your articles. The five writing styles are as discussed below:
1. Descriptive Writing
This type of writing describes characters, events, and places in a way that helps readers clearly visualize a particular scene. In a descriptive essay, scenarios are articulated through the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Descriptive writers often have more artistic freedom compared to their expository compatriots. These writings are often poetic and detailed, moreso since they leverage on figures of speech such as metaphors, similes, and symbols. The context of descriptive writing is often emotional and is written from the persona. Descriptive writing can be found in journals, poetry, nature writing, advertising, fiction, and diary writing.
2. Expository Writing
Expository writing is perhaps the most subject-oriented style of writing, and it is the most common genre in literature. Here, authors don’t voice their opinions since the expository essay is mostly based on facts and relies very little on stories. This type of writing helps explain a particular issue in a process-like manner, providing a logical order of sequence. The workings of expository writing are achieved by including tables and charts to interpret essential data, while links, quotes, and captions are used to show data sources. If you are a tech-savvy person and you have been wondering how virtual reality works, then perhaps expository writing on the subject matter will help you get the right answer. This style of writing is used in textbooks, recipes, business writing, and “how-to” articles.
3. Persuasive Writing
Persuasive writing aims to convince a reader to agree with the writer’s opinions. Authors showcase their personal views, providing relevant evidence that influences the reader to agree with them. This type of writing is fashioned with reassuring arguments and justifications, and more often, the author presents their thoughts seeking the reader’s approval. At the end of persuasive writing, the reader is asked to act on a given situation. These calls to action can be, for instance, voting for a candidate in the upcoming elections. Unlike expository writing, which is meant to inform by stating facts, a persuasive essay is very selective when it comes to presenting facts while building its storyline.
This style of writing is used in advertisements, commercials, editorial pieces, letters of complaints, and recommendations. This is also applicable to reviews for music, videos, series, and books.
4. Narrative Writing
Narrative writing tells a story . The author creates real and imaginary characters, describes what happens to them, and puts themselves in the character’s shoes. Narratives are mostly life stories, and even distinct in them is the fact that they have plots and storylines with a beginning and an end. Narratives writing uses dialogue to depict situations such as conflicts, disputes, and even motivational events. It is also essential to know that the narrative style is much longer than descriptive writing but, in some instances, incorporates descriptive passages. An example of a narrative is as shown below:
“Ted and Faith’s families have hated each other for decades, but these two have fallen in love with each other despite the existing differences.”
This type of writing is found in all kinds of fiction stories, as well as novellas, anecdotes, oral histories, poetry, and autobiographies.
5. Creative Writing
Unlike essays that follow certain rules about structure and form, creative writing is all about exercising one’s imagination. Creative writing pieces are often thought-provoking, entertaining, and wholly engaging as you read. They may invoke a certain kind of emotion, inspire creativity, or are simply meant to express thoughts. Here, the writer has more freedom and flow, and is not necessarily obligated to follow a single structure or format. Creative writing encompasses both fiction and non-fiction stories. Biographies and playwriting also fall under the same category.
An understanding of the various writing styles will help you recognize the objective of an article. Such knowledge is a viable prerequisite to becoming a sharper reader and a stronger writer. As a writer, you will be able to write more effectively when you can appreciate the different types of writing by knowing how they portray your writing to its intended audience.
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Collins Education Associates
Collins writing program, five types of writing.
The Collins Writing Program is built around the Five Types of Writing. Through these five types the program delivers a unique, copyrighted approach to writing and thinking that is easy to manage and offers much more than the traditional writing process.
What Are the Five Types of Writing Used by the Collins Writing Program?
The Collins Writing Program distinguishes itself from others through its proprietary approach to writing. The Five Types of Writing offers five different ways to use writing, depending on the teacher’s goal, time available, and where students are in the learning process. It shows teachers how to guide their students through all five types of writing with practical, easy-to-use strategies and techniques that have shown to improve student writing.
The program especially emphasizes Type Three Writing where Focus Correction Areas are introduced and Type Four Writing where peer editing occurs. Type Four assignments provide students with opportunities to draft, edit, and receive meaningful feedback on their work−within manageable time limits.
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