types of writing

Different writing styles are used for different writing assignments. Despite of their variety, writing styles generally fall in four categories: narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive writing. Yet, in order to determine which style to use for different types of essays, we need to have a look at each category.

What Is Narrative Writing?

Narrative writing suggests telling a story. Typically, such an essay will have a decent plot that includes some setting, characters, actions, and dialogues. It is a type that is used in both non-fiction as well as fiction writing. Although most narrative works present stories that are developed sequentially with a beginning, main actions, and the end, the author may choose his/her own way of telling the story. The author may use first person narration to make it more personal, or third-person point of view to distant him/herself and the reader. Narrative examples include short stories, novels, oral histories, biographies, and personal essays. 

The following excerpt from a story is an example of narrative writing. You may notice that it has a setting, characters, dialogue, and unfolding plot:

While cooking our usual breakfast of bacon and eggs, I watched awakening nature through our kitchen window. It was a pleasant morning that would promise a nice day outside. I called John to join me for the breakfast. Then I added, “We’re starting off right after it!” Nothing would get him out of bed except for the promise of a great adventurous day after we had our meal could. While passing by the glass doors, I noticed someone driving to our cottage. I wondered who could it be since none of us expected any visitors on our traditional hiking day. 

I did not notice John coming downstairs. He seemed to be surprised seeing unexpected visitors coming to our place.

“Are they heading our direction?” he asked.

“It seems so,” I answered. “Are you waiting for anybody?”

“Nope. Are you?” Having hear silence in response, he added, “I will go and check.” But before he reached the doors, two men jumped out of the car and headed to our porch.

What Is Descriptive Writing?

The very name of the writing style suggests description of something, be it a person, some action, place, or event. It is considered to be highly objective since it describes reality rather than writer’s feeling about something. However, descriptive writing can use means of literary devices, including various emphatic adjectives, metaphors, analogies, contrasts, etc. Figurative language in this case is used to evoke realistic images in readers’ mind.

Descriptive writing also appeals to human senses of the readers, such as taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch. In order to make description appeal to the senses when describing a place, author could describe it adding such details as how it looks, what are the smells and sounds, etc. In addition, writer can describe how different objects located at the place feel when touched or taste. Such details make readers “feel” the place as if they are there, too. Excerpts from fiction stories and novels, journals, poetry, travel guides, etc., are just some descriptive writing examples.

The following excerpt is an example of descriptive writing that appeals to senses, describing what the character sees, hears, feels and smells. It also uses some literary devices, for example, “the darkness of the forest enveloped me.”

Walking down the narrow forest path, I could hear how branches and twigs crunched under my feet. The silence was broken by the noise of my steps. The trees covered the sky above and the darkness of the forest enveloped me. I almost started to panic that I would never get out of the woods when I saw something shimmering in front of me. Finally, I could hear the magic noise of the falls. That was fantastic beauty in the middle of nowhere that gave hope of getting out.

What Is Expository Writing?

Expository writing definition is simple as it aims at informing the readers of some facts. It is, thus, often referred to as informative writing. Expository writing greatly relies on provision of facts, explanation of some processed, figures. Author usually presents information in a logical manner. Author’s personal opinion should not be added to any expository writing piece and presented information should be given objectively.

Different user manuals, recipe books, instruction guides, news stories, and research papers are some expository writing examples.

Expository Writing Example

The following piece of expository writing presents a step-by-step instruction of how to make a simple cake.

Turn on the oven and preheat it to 300 °f . Prepare a pan, preferably 9x9 inches, grease and flour it. Take a medium-sized bowl. Cream 1 cup white sugar and 0.5 cup butter. Beat in 2 eggs. Then add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Combine 1.5 cups of flour and 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and add to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in 0.5 cup of milk and mix until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the pan; then bake for 30-40 min in the preheated oven.

What is Persuasive Writing?

Persuasive writing aims at convincing the audience of certain point of view or a position. It is also referred to as argumentative writing. While presenting data, facts, and logical reasons to convince the audience, authors quite often tend to be rather biased with their opinion in the discussion. However, to make the argument effective and indeed persuasive, writers need to use such rhetorical devices as logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos assumes logical reasoning for the argument; ethos requires credibility of the evidence; and pathos is used to emotionally appeal to the readers. Parallelism is also one of persuasive writing techniques.

Quite often persuasive writing assumes some call to action required from the readers. Typically, this call of action is to take author’s position and take actions suggested by the author. For example, the author could be a support of organ donation and would present facts that favor becoming organ donors. The call to action in this case would be encouragement of signing up in the state’s organ donor registry. 

Speeches, reviews, advertisements, editorials, and cover letters are some of persuasive writing examples. 

Persuasive Example

The following excerpt from speech discusses the importance of healthy diet. The author uses statistics and credible evidence to support his standpoint:

Every year when vacation season approaches, the number of people willing to get in shape sharply increases. Some people run into gyms and work out to sweat hoping that exercising will give them the shapes they want. Others start looking for “effective” diets. However, results are disappointing. Whereas those who only exercise feel discomfort with their eating habits, 69% of people being on a fad diet do not reach their target weight (HealthResearchFunding.org). According to Health Research Funding, “adult Americans try to implement a fad diet on average 4 times a year.” However, I believe that to reach desirable weight, people should combine exercises with healthy diet, which suggests sufficient water intake, reduced portions, and increased amount of proteins.

Different forms of writing will require using different writing styles. When preparing your assignment, you will need to determine the purpose and craft a message that you need to present to your audience. Mastering different styles of writing will enhance overall effectiveness of your work and make it outstanding.

4 June, 2018
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