Unravel the secrets of the different styles of writing! Learn about their elements and types to help discover your personal style.
From Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre tales to Ernest Hemingway’s sparse prose and Jane Austen’s witty romances, what makes an author’s work unmistakable? As different as these writers’ masterpieces are, pinpointing exactly what sets their literary voices apart can be tricky. One thing is certain, though: These famous writers have very distinct writing styles. If you’re curious about the different styles of writing, join us as we unravel their elements and explore tips for discovering your own. We’ll help you cultivate your scribing skills and become a better writer so that you can craft unique and captivating stories of your own.
What does it mean to have a writing style? ✏️
Having a writing style means you have a distinct and recognizable way of expressing yourself through the written word. It’s the distinct manner in which an author crafts their work and approaches their reader, and it encompasses how they tell their story through literary elements such as tone, syntax, and diction.
An author’s literary voice is their unique essence — a combination of their conventions, personality, and how they frame and present their thoughts all in one package.
But writing can take different forms depending on the objective, audience, and medium. Different forms of writing styles include persuasive, expository, narrative, and descriptive. Writers can have their own distinct literary voice while also writing under a specific style.
What are the elements of writing style? 💻
Several crucial components come together to create an author’s distinctive style. Whether a writer is famous around the globe, up and coming, or simply writing for fun, their style is as unique as a fingerprint and derives from personal biases, experiences, and preferences. These elements, over time, develop into a cohesive and identifiable style.
The elements of writing style include the following:
Word choice 🔤
The specific words an author selects play a significant role in shaping their writing style. Word choice can reveal tone, attitude, and intention, significantly impacting the reading experience. Also called diction, subtle variations in word choice can profoundly change the meaning of the text.
Syntax refers to the arrangement of words and phrases in a sentence. An author’s chosen syntax impacts their work’s flow, rhythm, and clarity, as it also relates to the length and complexity of sentences. Proficient writers can leverage syntax to emphasize certain words and ideas, create literary rhythms and flows, and manage the pacing of their writing.
Depending on their audience, genre, and message, some writers adopt different tones to communicate their ideas or narrative more effectively. The tone a writer employs greatly influences their writing style.
For example, a piece of business writing might be more formal and reserved in tone, using precise language and simple delivery to communicate the idea at hand. A more lighthearted piece of writing may engage with the reader more playfully, taking advantage of anecdotes and informal language.
Literary devices ⚙️
Literary devices such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and personification, enhance writing by conveying meaning in a more impactful way. The strategic use of literary devices adds depth, richness, and emotional resonance to writing. It can significantly impact the way a reader experiences a piece.
Clarity and concision 💧
Clarity and concision refer to using the fewest words to express an idea. A writer’s ability to be concise and make every word count enhances clarity and accessibility within their work. Standard rules for concise writing include avoiding adverbs, using an active voice, and using adjectives and prepositions sparingly.
How many writing styles are there? 💭
There are many different writing styles spanning various genres, purposes, and audiences. While some types are more recognizable than others, it’s essential to acknowledge the shifting and growing literary landscape. As it evolves, new styles emerge, and authors experimenting with different techniques and approaches contribute to its complexity.
What are the different styles of writing? ✍️
If you’re an independent writer, understanding different writing styles can help you hone your craft, adapt your techniques, and reach your target audience. From narrative to descriptive, technical, and more, certain writing styles suit different purposes, each with unique characteristics.
Examples of writing styles include the following:
A narrative writing style grabs the reader’s attention by telling a story. This style engages the reader emotionally and immerses them in unfolding events through a plot structure, including an introduction, inciting action, a climax, falling action, and a resolution.
Examples of narrative writing include fiction novels, biographies, short stories, and narrative journalism, but you can also use a narrative writing style to emotionally engage audiences in a business or marketing context (such as brand stories, testimonials, and product imagery).
Persuasive writing tries to convince the reader to agree with a viewpoint or take certain actions. It employs techniques like logical argumentation, evidence, and storytelling to present arguments in a convincing and compelling way. Examples of persuasive writing include advertisements, cover letters, persuasive essays, letters of recommendation, academic writing, and business proposals.
Descriptive writing paints a vivid picture for the reader using sensory details, figurative language, and imagery. It uses figurative language and sensory details to engage the reader’s senses and create strong impressions of people, places, and things. Think about a radio or text ad for food, beauty, or travel — you might be able to imagine the sensory details these advertisements use to entice their audience.
Technical writing explains complex concepts, processes, or products in a clear, concise way that’s easy to understand. This style prioritizes precision and simplicity to effectively communicate information, often in steps. Examples of the technical style include how-to articles, technical documentation, scientific writing, research papers, legal documents, and white papers.
Content writing 📦
This type of writing encompasses creating e-books, articles, blog posts, and other written materials for digital platforms. Popular among Independents, the goal is often to inform, entertain, or educate the reader while adhering to search engine optimization (SEO) principles. This writing style may also include scripts and social media posts.
Copywriting is the art of persuading, informing, or influencing an audience through writing. This style captures the reader’s attention and converts them to take action, often purchasing something or opting into a lead magnet. Examples of copywriting include content for landing pages, websites, product descriptions, and emails.
How to find your writing style ✒️
Finding your personal writing style is a personal and exploratory journey. It takes time and practice, but putting the work into discovering who you are as an author helps develop a unique voice that resonates with your audience and keeps them coming back for more.
Here are a few tips for finding your writing style:
Try out different syntaxes, dictions, tones, and sentence structures to find out what feels natural and comfortable for you. When writing, make conscious decisions, take risks, and review the finished product to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Read often 📚
Reading literary works by various authors is an excellent way to learn about different writing styles and how other writers craft their stories. Analyze the styles of authors you love and incorporate elements of their techniques into your own writing. This is also an inspiring way to fight writer’s block.
Write regularly ✍️
Consistency is key to developing your own style. Daily writing helps hone your craft, refine your techniques, and build confidence. Over time, even if it’s just for a few minutes every day, you’ll notice patterns and preferences that are uniquely your own.
Think about your strengths 💪
Your natural strengths play a crucial role in your writing style. Identify areas you excel at and what literary techniques and devices naturally come to you when writing. Over time, these strengths will come together to form your own unique literary voice.
Reflect on your progress 👍
Critically reviewing and analyzing your work helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and patterns. For example, you might notice that you default to the same transition phrase or crutch words while writing. There’s always room for growth, so self-awareness is key to refining and improving your writing style.
Contra’s the best platform for writers 🚀
If you’re an Independent ready to build a successful (or more successful!) literary career, Contra is ready for you. Our commission-free platform empowers authors to showcase their unique writing styles, seek out fulfilling projects, and get paid. Looking for helpful tips on building your audience and your own website? Visit our blog. To connect with other writers, explore our Slack community.