By: Lydia Oyetunji
“When we come across a natural style, we are surprised and delighted; for we expected an author, and we find a man.”― Blaise Pascal
Are you a fan of all literary writing styles and both knowledgeable about some but a master of none? Personally, I consider myself a scholar due to my daily study of and dedication to writing, and I feel a need to share my knowledge with others. I’m on a continuous journey toward zeroing in on my style of writing. Although, the perfectionist in me wishes to master them all! I have dabbled in a few different styles, and my readers react more to my descriptive style than the others I have exhibited. Being the lover of knowledge that I am, I want to share what I’ve learned about the four different writing styles.
A writing style is a technique a writer uses in their compositions. Writing styles vary depending on the word choice and tone that the writer prefers. It’s most commonly referred to as the writer’s voice. When I first started writing, every article or post had a mixture of both persuasive and expository voices. I was so used to writing content for websites and entrepreneurs, that that style spilled over into other writings. My first article for “Two Drops of Ink,” entitled “The Importance of Writing,” was my one of my first attempts to discover my writing voice. Once I emailed the completed post to Marilyn Davis, one of the editors of “Two Drops of Ink,” she informed me that my article was good, but that it felt more like a teacher waving her finger at a student, or as if I was debating the topic. The advice she extended was to soften my writing style and make it more conversational. Marilyn further advised me to read the posts written by herself and Scott, take notice how their style changes. Inadvertently, the masters sent their apprentice on a mission learning the different styles of writing and to start applying them.
There are four basic literary styles of writing. An author may use one particular style while another may utilize many different writing styles dependent on the type of composition penned. For those like myself who are unfamiliar with the different literary styles, this article will definitely be an eye opener.
Argumentative/Expository: This writing style is subject or topic orientated. In this style of writing, the author is exposing or debating a subject or topic. The author ends with their final opinion on the subject discussed. Writers should firmly support their arguments with facts, reasoning, and examples. A perfect example of expository writing is Aristotle’s “Rhetoric”, in which the book debates the benefits and the development of rhetorical theory in both ancient and modern terms. The most common topics written in this style are the following:
- How- To articles
Persuasive: In this writing style, the writer attempts to reason with the reader and justifies their point of view on an idea or issue. The main objective is to convince the reader that the author’s views are valid. When using this particular style of writing, keep your target audience in mind and don’t be so passionate that you lose your reader. A memoir entitled “The Education of Henry Adams” was written in a persuasive style, and the author, from Boston, chronicled his thoughts on the social, political, technical, and intellectual changes that took place during his lifetime. He also wrote about the importance of further self-education. His novel won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize. Take a look at the following examples of persuasive writing topics:
- Social Media
- Immigration in the US
- Dress code in the Workplace.
- American Public School System
Narrative: This style of writing is when the author narrates a story to the reader. The writer is telling a story from their point of view. The beginning, setting, plot, climax, and ending should come together seamlessly. Author and book critic for the Washington Post, Michael Dirda, wrote about the life of a book critic and reader. His novel “Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments”—a narrative/biography—won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Narrative writing types are often found in the following:
Descriptive: This type of writing focuses more on the use of the five senses. The author gives a detailed description of a person, place, or an object. Your descriptive sentences should be very vivid and strong. This is a great time to steer clear of passive voice sentence structures, focus more on figurative language. In “Nature” Is What We See, a poem by Emily Dickinson, she vividly describes the simplistic beauty of nature. Descriptive writing styles are found in the following:
- Informative Articles
As I wrote this article, I took a peek into the writings of the listed authors to aid me in my study of the writing styles. I found it to be the best method of study, allowing me to delve deep into the particular style and techniques of these authors. Some of us newbies just wish to find our niche and write in one particular style. Let us not forget, the most important part of writing is the ability to make an impact on the reader. So study often, and write as if your life depends on it!