If you’re looking to improve your writing skills, one of the best places to start is understanding different writing styles and how to use them. Crafting compelling copy can have countless applications, whether you’re pursuing a career as a writer or simply want to become a stronger communicator in any job.  

The five main types of writing are expository, persuasive, narrative, descriptive and creative. Each one serves a different purpose and employs different techniques to accomplish it. Knowing how and when to use the appropriate style—or in many cases, how to combine them—will help you better engage your readers and convey your ideas more effectively. 

Expository Writing

You can use exposition to inform and educate the reader by describing and explaining a topic or idea. It answers questions that the reader may have about the subject, such as what, who, why, when, where and how.

The main challenge with expository writing is doing it in a way that will help the reader clearly understand what you’re trying to convey. The following tips can help you accomplish this:

  • Keep it succinct by saying only what needs to be said and avoid embellishments and figurative language. 
  • Write with your reader in mind. For example, how you write for a middle school textbook should be different from how you write for an academic journal.
  • Assume that the reader knows nothing about the topic.This will help ensure that you cover everything that needs to be covered. 
  • Avoid sharing any opinions. Simply state the facts and let the reader come to their own conclusions. 
  • Back up your facts with evidence, links to sources, data tables or charts. 

Expository Writing Examples

This blog post is the perfect example of expository writing—its only purpose is to teach you the basics of different writing styles. Look for other examples in places like: 

  • Textbooks and academic journals
  • News articles
  • Educational blog posts
  • Technical or business documents
  • Training materials
  • Help center articles, FAQ pages
  • Any webpages that explain how something works

Persuasive Writing

The goal with persuasive writing is to convince the reader of a certain viewpoint. As the writer, your job is to share your opinion, back it up with evidence and get the reader to agree with you. 

At the end, you may also ask them to take action in support of your cause—for example, make a donation, vote for a candidate, or buy a product or service. 

Persuasive writing is supported with both objective and subjective arguments. An objective argument may involve hard facts or data, while a subjective argument often involves logical reasoning or questions of ethics and morality. You may also try to get your point across by appealing to the reader’s values and beliefs or building an emotional connection with them. 

Persuasive Writing Topics

Persuasive pieces can be written about almost anything, as long as there is a clear viewpoint and an opposing viewpoint. In other words, there should be people who might disagree with you, and it’s your job to convince them otherwise. 

For example, the statement “There are seven days in a week” would not make a great persuasive writing topic, because it’s hard to disagree with. A topic like “Students shouldn’t be allowed to use cell phones at school” is much more exciting because it has both supporters and critics. 

Persuasive writing topics often spark debate, but that’s not always the case. Consider the following examples and the main argument they might present. They’re not controversial, yet they still aim to convince the reader to take a particular side. 

  • Cover letters (I am a worthy candidate for this position)
  • Advertisements (This is a product you should buy)
  • Business proposals (This is a deal you should invest in) 
  • Reviews (This is a great book, movie, music album or theater production) 
  • Work emails (We need to take this course of action) 

Persuasive Writing Techniques

Mastering persuasive writing takes lots of practice, but the following tips can help you get started:

  1. Know your audience. Understanding who they are and what they care about will help you craft your message in a way that resonates with them.
  2. Create an emotional connection by using compelling words and phrases to help your reader understand why the issue in question should matter to them. 
  3. Organize your arguments clearly, and make it easy for the reader to follow your train of thought. Explicitly state your main point, supporting arguments and evidence. 
  4. Engage the reader. Invite them to think about the topic and relate it to their own experiences. For example, you can ask questions, but not provide specific answers. This way, the reader might feel like they arrived at the answer on their own and, ultimately, feel more invested in the cause. 
  5. Back up your claims with evidence. Use one or more types of evidence to support your arguments:
    1. Statistical evidence, such as hard facts or studies
    2. Anecdotal evidence, such as personal experiences or interviews
    3. Testimonial evidence, such as quotes from experts in the subject
    4. Textual evidence, such as passages from books or primary sources

Persuasive Writing Examples

To see persuasive writing in action, check out the following examples:

Narrative Writing

At the core of narrative writing is storytelling—the author tells a story, real or fictional, about a character and what happens to them over time. 

Whether you’re thinking of writing a novel or incorporating storytelling into other projects, the following tips will help you tell a compelling story:

  • Write from a consistent point of view (first, second or third person) and in the same tense (past or present). 
  • Incorporate the basic elements of narrative writing, such as characters, plot, setting, theme, and conflict.
  • Take the reader on a journey through the beginning, middle and end of your story. While most stories are told in chronological order, you can also switch back and forth between different time periods to add a sense of mystery or reveal a plot twist. 
  • Choose descriptions that help the reader visualize characters, places and scenes. 
  • Use literary devices—for example, metaphors, symbolism or foreshadowing—to convey a deeper meaning and evoke emotions in the reader. 
  • Use dialogue to demonstrate interactions and build relationships between characters.

Narrative Writing Examples

Narrative writing is used in novels, memoirs, biographies, short stories and creative essays. Because people tend to connect so well with stories, it’s also often incorporated into presentations, speeches, proposals and marketing campaigns. 

Check out the following examples of narrative writing:

Descriptive Writing

It’s uncommon for a standalone piece to be composed solely of descriptive writing. Instead, descriptive writing is an essential component of other styles, like narrative and creative writing. For example, a short story may be written with narrative writing, but have a few descriptive paragraphs scattered throughout. 

Descriptive writing engages the reader and helps create an immersive experience for them by providing detailed descriptions of things, people, places and situations. It paints a picture for the reader, allowing them to imagine what it’s like to be in the scene with the character and experience what they are experiencing.

To use descriptive writing effectively, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Describe what the character is experiencing with all five senses—sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. 
  • Use literary devices like similes and metaphors to depict things that are hard to describe. 
  • Aim to show the scene to the reader, instead of just telling them about it. For example, rather than saying “it was a windy day”, you can say something like “the trees swayed and groaned all around her, and she struggled to keep her hair out of her face”. 

Descriptive Writing Examples

Descriptive writing is most often found in novels, short stories, poems and other forms of creative writing. However, it’s also sometimes used in expository writing—for example, in descriptions of products or travel destinations. 

You can find great examples of descriptive writing in the pieces below:

Creative Writing

Anything that doesn’t easily fall into the four writing styles above can be considered creative writing—think personal essays, memoirs, poems, songs, standup comedy scripts, plays and screenplays. 

As a creative writer, your goal may be to share something thought-provoking, educational, inspiring or entertaining. There are no rules on how to go about this—you can use any writing style you like, combine two or more styles or use none at all. You can write fiction or nonfiction. You can experiment with different formats and even incorporate audio, video, photos and art into your work. 

Creative Writing Classes

While there are no rules when it comes to creative writing, it can still be helpful to learn a few tools and techniques, especially if you’re looking to master a particular genre. The classes below are a great place to start:

Creative Writing Prompts

One of the best ways to get started with creative writing is using prompts. They can help spark your imagination and lead you down some very interesting paths! 

Check out a few examples of creative writing prompts below. And when you’re ready for more, a quick Google search can help you discover countless others. 

  • You just received an unexpected package at your doorstep. What’s in it?
  • You discover a time machine. Where would you go? What happens there?
  • What does your ideal day look like?
  • Write about two people on a blind date.
  • Think about a major decision you made. What would have happened if you had chosen a different path? 
  • Write a letter to your past or future self. 

Examples of Creative Writing

Find inspiration for your own creative writing by perusing online publications like:

Master Any Writing Style 

Depending on the nature of your job or creative pursuit, you may need to master more than one writing style or maybe even all of them. In any case, the best way to improve your skills is to practice as much as you can. So pick up your pen—or keyboard—and get writing! 

Written By

Sayana Lam

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