What Does the Term ‘Writing Style’ Mean?

A writing style is pretty similar to any style insofar as it helps the wearer, or in this case the writer, to reveal their personality or express who they are through the written word. Does this sound a bit vague? If so, let us compare writing to an individual’s personal style. Everyone has a particular style when it comes to fashion, whether or not it is intentional. The day-to-day clothing and/or accessories one chooses to wear tells you something about their individual style. If a person decides to wear jeans and trainers, their style can be described as informal or casual. If, by contrast, someone wears a shirt, classic-cut trousers and neatly polished shoes, their style could be described as business-like. These principles also apply to writing.    

So, should writers dress formally when they are writing? The answer is no, even if it seems like an interesting approach. This is not the point of the exercise. Like clothing, writing relies on particular styles. Writing can be divided into four primary types or styles, which are descriptive, expository, narrative and persuasive. Let us look at each one:

Descriptive writing is usually associated with poetry and fictional works where the language is often flowery and descriptive since its purpose is to entertain rather than inform. People might choose this form of writing purely to savor the language and the actual written words. Consequently, the descriptive style has a tendency to use a lot of adverbs, adjectives, imagery and figurate language in order to provide the level of detail the reader to needs to picture the events, background scenery, characters, and so on in their own mind’s eye.   

Writing of the expository variety can be classified as a general style and includes all essay types, except persuasive writing. The primary aim of an expository essay is to provide an explanation in relation to some idea or concept along with information or examples to support it. This type of writing is mainly subject-based and, therefore, facts rather than opinions are required to provide the supporting detail. Generally, this genre of writing is found in textbooks and in essays or articles of the “how to” variety. Consequently, the style is more straightforward and formal and the sequence must be logical and well organized. Additionally, it is unacceptable to use any slang or the type of casual speech one would use when conversing with friends. So, you could say this style requires more “dressing up” than the jeans and trainers variety.

Narrative writing is slightly similar to the descriptive style in that it aims to be entertaining. But rather than using beautiful language to entertain, the real purpose of a narrative essay is story-telling. If writers use the expository style to recount a story, the reader may soon become bored. The language used in the narrative style is more of the descriptive and imaginative variety because the writer wants their readers to picture the characters, setting and scenery so that they can be part of it and relate to the plot. With narrative writing, the style can change according to the nature of the story. If, for instance, the writer wants to convey suspense, their sentences are likely to be short and sharp in order to create a climax. Hence, the type of narrative or its category can also have a bearing on the writing style.

Again, the persuasive style of writing bears a slight similarity to the expository style and is mostly found in articles and essays. It also draws support from specific examples and intricate detail. Persuasive writing does not, however, rely to any great extent on factual information. The writer of a persuasive text usually offers their own opinion and attempts to convince their readers to agree with their viewpoint or take some action. Therefore, as well as being clear, the writing should be concise, but it can be more dramatic and forceful if it is to be sufficiently persuasive. At times, for instance, a writer might use exaggerated detail to appeal to the emotions of the reader, more so than they would with expository writing.