The Ultimate Guide to Writing Styles, With Examples (2023)

Seasoned writers each have their own distinct methods and approaches that set their writing apart from others. An author’s writing style is the culmination of all the unique techniques, habits, and choices they make.

Because it’s so abstract and fluid, writing style can be difficult to pin down—even for the writers themselves! Evaluating the way famous authors write is hard enough, but what if you want to develop or enhance your own writing style?

Strike the right tone

Grammarly helps you communicate the way you intend

Here’s a tip: You don’t have to guess whether you’re using certain words correctly or breakinggrammar rules in your writing. Justcopy and paste your writing to check your grammar and get instant feedback on whether your sentences have misspellings, punctuation errors, or any structural mistakes.

This guide explains the fundamentals to help you understand. We’ll cover the different elements of writing styles, compare the writing styles of famous authors, and even give some tips on how to improve your own writing style.

(Video) The Ultimate Guide to Writing Styles [Part 1]

First, let’s get a definitive answer to the essential question:

What is writing style?

Have you ever been in a group chat where you knew who was writing without seeing their name? Chances are, you were so familiar with that person’s writing style that you recognized it right away.

The writing choices an author makes tend to follow patterns. When a writer finds a technique or habit they like, they stick with it, often throughout their entire career. Put all those writing choices together, and the writing takes on a unique “voice” that “sounds” different from other writing.

However, just because a writer uses one writing style doesn’t mean they’re tied to it forever. Writers are free to change up their style as needed, even within the same work, just by altering their techniques and making different choices. Some sections might call for a serious style, while just a few paragraphs later a playful one is needed.

We all change up our communication styles depending on our needs. The language and tone you use with friends is different than the language you use with teachers or coworkers. Writing is no different.

While it’s difficult to define writing style, don’t make the mistake of conflating it with thetypes of writing. For example,narrative writing is a type of writing, but you can do it in any number of styles: playful, somber, clinical, casual, etc. The same can be said for expository, persuasive, anddescriptive writing.

The components of writing style

In a sense, all writing choices are equal, but they evoke different responses in the reader. If the author wants to make the reader laugh, they’ll make different writing choices than an author who wants to scare their reader, or teach their reader, or persuade their reader.

While all the minutiae of writing choices ultimately affect the final style, it helps to break them down into three main categories: word choice, structure, and punctuation.

Word choice

Words each carry their own special emotional connotations and contextual associations, so writers must choose the words that best match their desired outcome. To put it another way, if a writer wants to be formal, they’ll choose words that sound formal.

This is true even when words technically have the same meanings. Consider the difference between these three phrases:

  • getting let go
  • getting fired
  • getting canned

Each refers to the same thing—the termination of employment—but they each have their own special connotations. “Getting let go” is often a euphemism for termination, used to politely protect someone’s feelings; “getting fired” is the standard, but would come across as insensitive in a formal environment; and “getting canned” is more colloquial, best used in a joking or casual setting.

(Video) The Ultimate Guide To Writing Styles [Part Two] | 6 Tips to Choose Correct Writing Styles

Writers are free to use any words they want but should consider the connotations if they’re aiming for a particular style.

Structure (sentence and paragraph)

Just like words can have the same meaning with different connotations, so too can individual sentences and paragraphs. By rearranging their structure, an author can change how the sentence is interpreted, sometimes drastically.

Hippopotamuses kill more humans than sharks do.

Sharks kill fewer humans than hippopotamuses do.

Both sentences are saying the same thing, but have slightly different connotations. The first is more factual and straightforward, but the second is more dramatic, saving the intended surprise until the end.

Structure also accounts for the lengths of sentences. Some writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, are known for their quick, to-the-point sentences, which create a fast-paced and urgent writing style. Other writers, namely Charles Dickens, favor long, descriptive sentences, which create a vivid and immersive writing style.

The same principles that apply to sentence structure can also apply to paragraph structure. Some authors have paragraphs that last more than a page, while others never write paragraphs longer than four sentences. Both are equally viable, but the choice should align with one’s writing style.

Punctuation

Have you noticed that some writers never use semicolons while others can’t stop? The choice of punctuation affects how sentences are read, so it has a direct impact on writing style.

More than anything, punctuation affects pacing. Commas, periods, colons, and other punctuation marks all denote pauses in text, similar to a rest in music. Excessive punctuation tends to draw out the writing and slow it down—a good technique for building suspense or encouraging reflection.

Writers can use punctuation any way they’d like. More often than not, writers follow punctuation rules. Sometimes they break them for stylistic reasons, for example writing one continuous run-on sentence across pages to represent a stream of consciousness.

Examples of writing styles from famous authors

Let’s look at some excerpts and quotes from famous authors to illustrate writing style in action. So you can see the difference style makes, all of our examples are about the same topic: the common house cat.

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Mark Twain

“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”

The style Twain uses here is very respectful, using absolutes (“Of all God’s creatures”) and comparisons to show admiration, along with poetic phrases to engage the reader like “slave of the leash.”

T.S. Eliot

“I am glad you have a Cat, but I do not believe it is so remarkable a cat as My Cat.”

Eliot plays with grammar style to capitalize the words “Cat” and “My” to subtly show reverence.

William S. Burroughs

“Only thing can resolve conflict is love, like I felt for Fletch and Ruski, Spooner, and Calico. Pure love. What I feel for my cats present and past. Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is. LOVE.”

While Eliot “plays” with grammar, Burroughs flat-out abandons it for incomplete sentences, writing in all caps, and inconsistent commas. The erratic writing style, however, supports the passion and emotional message he’s trying to communicate.

Charles Bukowski

“when I am feeling

low

all I have to do is

watch my cats

and my

(Video) How to write descriptively - Nalo Hopkinson

courage

returns.

I study these

creatures.

they are my

teachers.”

Poetry offers more leeway for breaking grammar rules, so poets enjoy extra freedom to develop their writing styles. Bukowski speaks plainly with no metaphors or hidden meanings, so when he says directly “they are my teachers,” it carries more impact because we know he’s telling the truth.

3 ways to develop your own writing style

1 Read more

The more writing styles you expose yourself to, the more options you have to emulate in your writing. Reading a diverse range of styles, especially outside of what you’re used to, can teach you new techniques and literary devices—but you won’t discover them unless you look.

2 Play to your strengths

Do you have an excellent vocabulary? It’ll be easier for you to find the perfect word for every situation. Do you have a talent for realistic descriptions? Give yourself space to write longer, more detailed sentences. Your writing style should reflect your particular skills as a writer, so use it to accent your best features.

3 Do what comes naturally

What type of writer are you? Are you the Meticulous Plotter, or maybe an Escape Artist? Let your writing style develop on its own based on what comes naturally to you. You’ll find yourself drawn to certain techniques or words over others because they fit your personality. That’s really all writing style is: the writer’s personality shining through.

This article was originally written in 2019 by Daniel Potter. It’s been updated to include new information.

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FAQs

What are the 4 major styles of writing provide examples? ›

Your audience and writing purpose will determine your writing style. The four main types of writing styles are persuasive, narrative, expository, and descriptive. In this blog post, we'll briefly explore the defining features of these four writing styles.

What are the 5 types of writing with examples? ›

there are only five main kinds of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, narrative, and journal or letter writing. Each writing genre has its own unique purpose and requires different skills.

What are the 3 main types of writing? ›

While there are many reasons why you might be putting pen to paper or tapping away on the keyboard, there are really only four main types of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative.

What are the 5 basic writing skills? ›

Basic writing skills: These include spelling, capitalization, punctuation, handwriting and keyboarding, and sentence structure (e.g., learning to eliminate run-ons and sentence fragments). Basic writing skills are sometimes called the “mechanics” of writing.

What are the types of writing explain with examples? ›

There are four main types of writing: expository, persuasive, narrative, and descriptive. Expository – Writing in which author's purpose is to inform or explain the subject to the reader. Persuasive – Writing that states the opinion of the writer and attempts to influence the reader.

What are the 6 types of writing and examples? ›

There a six genres of writing: descriptive, expository, persuasive, narrative, technical and poetic. Compare and Contrast: you examine similarities and differences between two people, places, ideas, or things.

What are the six elements of good writing? ›

The Six Traits of writing are Voice, Ideas, Presentation, Conventions, Organization, Word Choice, and Sentence Fluency. It creates a common vocabulary and guidelines for teachers to use with students so that they become familiar with the terms used in writing. It develops consistency from grade level to grade level.

How do you describe different types of writing? ›

Summary: The 4 Different Styles of Writing

Descriptive: to describe things. Expository: to give facts. Narrative: to tell a story. Persuasive: to convince the reader of something.

What are the four C's of strong writing? ›

To help me accomplish that task, I distilled the writing advice I've read and received over the years into the four Cs—clear, concise, correct, and compelling.

What are the 4 A's in writing? ›

The "four A's" of sales letters are attention, appeal, application, and action. First, get the reader's attention.

What are the seven 7 strategies in writing? ›

The 7 stages of the EEF's writing process: Planning, Drafting, Sharing, Evaluating, Revising, Editing and Publishing.

What are the 7 traits of good writing? ›

These standards focus on revising, editing, and publishing work using technology- all seven of the traits: ideas, organization, word choice, voice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation speak to these standards.

What is the golden rule of writing? ›

Always write so that everything is clearly understood.

Use simple words. Use the first word that comes to your mind as that will often work best. Don't look up fancy words in thesaurus as you go – write naturally. The only way you can get a better understanding of language is through your reading habit.

What is the golden rule of actual writing? ›

What is my Golden Rule of Writing? It's this: Intend every word you write. Be aware of what your words mean, and make sure that the meaning aligns with what you are trying to say.

What is the first rule of good writing? ›

1. Express, not impress. Good writing is not about the number of words you've produced, the quality of the adjectives you've written or the size of your font–it's about the number of lives you've touched! It's whether or not your reader understands you.

What is the 100 rule in writing? ›

The 100% Rule is a simple, one-second decision with profound effects on the rest of your life. Once you accept a certain path, all future decisions are made. If you decide to be a daily writer, then you write daily. You don't write 98% of the days.

What is the most important rule in writing? ›

Be Consistent When Writing

Delivering your message is essential. But you also want your readers to believe in what you're saying. You need to build trust. This basic rule of writing goes together with addressing your reader and making your text specific.

What are the 3 purposes in writing and explain in detail? ›

The three main purposes for writing are to persuade, inform, and entertain. In persuasive writing, the author works to convince the reader to do something or to believe in an idea. In informative writing, the author is writing in order to inform the reader about a topic.

What are the 4 main text types explain each? ›

Factual texts merely seek to inform, whereas literary texts seek to entertain or otherwise engage the reader by using creative language and imagery. There are many aspects to literary writing, and many ways to analyse it, but four basic categories are descriptive, narrative, expository, and argumentative.

What is the 10 academic writing? ›

There are ten main features of academic writing that are often discussed. Academic writing is to some extent: complex, formal, objective, explicit, hedged, and responsible. It uses language precisely and accurately. It is also well organised and planned.

What is the most important step in the writing process? ›

"Brainstorming" is one of the most important steps in the writing process which you should never skip. This well-written and informative site introduces you to thirteen helpful and applicable techniques.

What are the 7 steps of the writing process? ›

A writing process or method includes the following stages: planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, editing, and publishing.

What are the two A's of effective writing? ›

ans - Accurate and Affirmative

What are the 4 pillars of content writing? ›

The answer lies in four pillars of content creation that will help you create high-quality content that ranks well in search engines: originality, relevance, engagement, and relevancy.

What is the hardest writing style? ›

Comedy. Comedy is generally considered the hardest of all the genres to write. The problem is that it's so subjective. Just because you say funny things to your mates down the pub, doesn't mean you can write funny things down and they'll still be funny on paper.

What is the most popular writing style? ›

Expository Writing – This is the most common type of writing. This blog post is an example of expository writing, as I'm explaining a concept and providing information. However, expository writing often doesn't include the author's opinions.

What are the 4 main purposes of writing? ›

There are four purposes writers use for writing. When someone communicates ideas in writing, they usually do so to express themselves, inform their reader, to persuade a reader or to create a literary work.

What are some examples of descriptive writing? ›

Basic Sentence: The leaf fell off the tree. Detailed Sentence: The yellow leaf fell off the big tree. Descriptive Writing: SWOOSH! The smooth yellow leaf floated down from the enormous oak tree.

What is a style guide in writing? ›

A style guide contains a set of standards for writing and designing content. It helps maintain a consistent style, voice, and tone across your documentation, whether you're a lone writer or part of a huge docs team.

What is style and its example? ›

Examples of Style. Rather than merely sharing information, style lets an author share his content in the way that he wants. For example, say an author needs to describe a situation where he witnessed a girl picking a flower: She picked a red rose from the ground. Scarlet was the rose that she plucked from the earth.

What are the 7 types of text structure and examples? ›

Examples of text structures include: sequence/process, description, time order/chronology, proposition/support, compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, inductive/deductive, and investigation.

What are the 5 most common text structures? ›

There are thought to be five common text structures: description, cause and effect, compare and contrast, problem and solution, and sequence (Meyer 1985).

What are the 5 main purposes of writing skills? ›

The most popular are to inform, to entertain, to explain, or to persuade. However, there are many more including to express feelings, explore an idea, evaluate, mediate, problem solve, or argue for or against an idea. Writers often combine purposes in a single piece of writing.

What's an example of expository writing? ›

Cookbooks. The World Almanac. Scientific reports. These informative nonfiction texts are all examples of expository writing.

What is an example of a description sentence? ›

“Today, the wispy wet water is streaming down from the sky, like honey slipping off a spoon.” “Drops of rain exit the pillowcases, drowsily float like feathers, soar in many directions.” “It is raining today; the crystal clear raindrops hit the ground silently.”

How do you write a strong paragraph? ›

Good paragraphs begin with a topic sentence that briefly explains what the paragraph is about. Next come a few sentences for development and support, elaborating on the topic with more detail. Paragraphs end with a conclusion sentence that summarizes the topic or presents one final piece of support to wrap up.

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