Writing styles are like fashion styles. How you dress helps others understand who you are, describes a particular sentiment to those who see you, and signals a subconscious message to be interpreted by others. How you write will give similar signals to others that help them understand what you’re trying to communicate. Also, like fashion styles, writing styles have particular times and places in which they should be employed or restrained. It’s inappropriate to wear white to a wedding if you’re not the bride; similarly, it’s inappropriate to use certain writing styles for specific types of writing.
Luckily, writing styles are a little more cut and dried than fashion styles. There are four main types of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative. Each serves a specific purpose and differs from the others in particular ways. Knowing the difference between the writing styles is useful in essay writing because your essay must serve a precise purpose. By understanding the subtleties of the writing styles, it will be a lot easier to determine which style to employ based on the purpose of your essay.
Expository writing is used when you want to explain or inform, making it a very popular writing style for essays. Generally, the writer must first formulate a topic, outline the evidence, and further explain the idea to demonstrate a particular point about the topic at hand. A thesis statement is utilized to outline the topic, followed by body paragraphs held together by transitions. Often, evidence is stated in the paragraphs, and an introduction and conclusion are provided.
Very simply, this style is employed in academic writing to outline the main points of a topic. The writer explains a specific subject from beginning to end. The writing should be clear, supported by facts and logical reasoning. A common form of expository writing is the compare-and-contrast essay, which outlines the similarities and differences between two subjects. The writer can either alternate explaining similarities and differences in separate paragraphs or explain all the similarities in several consecutive paragraphs, followed by all the differences.
The main purpose of descriptive writing is to describe a subject to form a clear idea in the reader’s mind. This writing style draws attention to details to outline the topic. Writing a descriptive essay requires clear and vivid language to accurately describe the subject. The senses become very important in descriptive writing because they help to bring ordinary moments to life. The reader should be left with a vibrant understanding of the topic at hand.
Students are often required to write descriptive essays to explain a particular experience they may have had or an event that has taken place. This type of essay is a little bit more creative than the expository essay, allowing the writer to draw on lived experience and lively language rather than relying on dry facts. Here, the more specific and detailed the writing is, the better, and wordiness is not frowned upon as it is in expository writing.
This type of writing allows the writer to take a stance. Rather than objectively explaining a topic or painting a picture for the reader, persuasive writing is used to demonstrate a very specific opinion on a topic. That means attention to word choice is imperative, as weak or incorrect word usage can make or break a persuasive essay. In this style, authors attempt to get the readers to side with them, share their particular opinion, and even sometimes take action on it.
Often, this type of writing is used for controversial topics that split people into groups based on their opinions. This allows writers to take a specific stance and outline their particular opinions. Even though the writing can and should be biased, the outlined arguments must all be logical and must be feasibly proven. Therefore, persuasive writing requires extensive research so that the writer can back up an opinion with reputable sources.
Generally, narrative writing is less common in the academic world because the narrative style exists to tell stories. Whether it’s a true story or not is irrelevant; fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry are all types of narrative writing. In reality, all types of writing exist to argue a specific point. So even though narrative writing is a more creative type of writing, it is still an argument and should be treated as such.
What do you want the reader to believe? That’s what you should ask when writing a narrative essay.
Narrative essays are generally used when writing anecdotal or personal essays. In the academic world, this usually takes the form of creative nonfiction. The writer should introduce the topic and lead the reader through the story by explaining what happened next until the story comes to a logical conclusion. That means it should have a clear structure. This type of writing is also used for book reports, outlining the story from beginning to end.
Really, the four types of writing are named aptly: expository writing explains, descriptive writing describes, persuasive writing persuades, and narrative writing narrates. All the different writing styles serve their own purposes and are thus useful for different types of essay writing. That means they never go out style (pun intended).