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Developing Your Writing Style: How to Find Your Voice as a Writer

Feb 14, 2024

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“Writing” is a comprehensive term that includes wide-ranging styles. Not all writing is the same, which means that not all writers will have the same approach to their work. When it comes to finding your voice as a writer, one of the first steps is to identify the purpose of your writing. Regardless of what brings you to the keyboard (or paper!), most writing falls into 5 main categories: narrative writing, descriptive writing, persuasive writing, expository writing, and creative writing. Let’s take a closer look at each writing style and learn how you can leverage the techniques to elevate your writer voice.

1. Narrative writing

Narratives are stories, and therefore, narrative writing is all about storytelling. It uses common story elements, such as character development, plot, and setting to create an image in the reader’s mind. Likewise, narrative writing employs the use of conflict and emotion to build engagement. These are stories where we follow along a character’s journey—from beginning to end—through the use of description and dialogue. 

Narrative writing often uses book tropes, which are themes readers come to expect. Examples of these archetypes include The Hero’s Journey, Enemies to Lovers, Coming of Age, Good Vs. Evil, Found Family, and Rags to Riches. 

Narrative writing can be found in various forms of fiction, from novels to short stories, memoirs and more. It’s a popular form of writing because readers connect with the power of good storytelling.

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2. Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is exactly what it sounds like: Description! The goal is to immerse your reader into the story, evoking all the senses as though they were actually there. Many writers refer to descriptive writing as “painting the scene.” You are the artist with a blank canvas—how will you describe what the character is seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, feeling? This is where literary devices come in. Consider using similes, metaphors, analogies, and imagery to create a full, vivid picture. It’s all in the details!

One of the best places to find examples of descriptive writing is poetry. Poets have a keen ability to create emotional experiences through words, all by choosing descriptive language. Descriptive writing is also important for fiction and non-fiction, especially when describing characters, settings and events.

3. Persuasive writing

The purpose of persuasive writing is to influence reader opinion or encourage action. Also known as argumentation, the writer takes a stance on a topic or issue and presents their case for why others should agree. Some writing is more persuasive than others—where one writer’s goal may be simply to share their beliefs, another may be more vigorous in their attempt to convince.

Persuasive writing is often objective, and it can be helpful to keep strong emotions out of the equation. While it takes emotion to feel strongly about a topic, too much emotion can detract from your credibility. Instead, present the facts or evidence to your stance—no viewpoint will be accepted without something to back it up.

Unlike narrative and descriptive writing, which are found in fiction, persuasive writing dominates non-fiction books, essays, and opinion pieces.

4. Expository writing

Expository writing aims to explain (and that’s an easy way to remember it: expository = explain). Like a teacher in a classroom, the goal is to educate the reader on a certain topic. It exposes truth or fact. Think of expository writing as your journalism assignment in school, or any of the news shows you watch on TV. The details of the story are presented in a clean, concise, logical order, following the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when, why.

You can find expository writing in textbooks, business writing, news reports, how-to articles, academic essays and more.

Expository writing is unbiased, meaning it doesn’t contain opinion, just the facts. It’s the opposite of narrative writing, which uses flowery language to create emotion. Instead, exposition often uses a thesis statement, presents supporting information and wraps up with a conclusion. Some find this writing voice stiff and detached, but that’s the point. Comparing it to narrative writing would be like comparing apples and oranges—both are styles of writing, both with their own applications, but also with stark differences.

5. Creative writing

This final, catch-all category encompasses any type of writing that doesn’t neatly fit into any of the previous categories. The name says it all: creative. Meaning, these writings break the rules in the name of artistry.

Creative writing allows the writer to experiment, imagine, and try new styles. Readers enjoy being surprised by the new and unexpected—and the funny. Humor writing often falls into this category, as writers play with satire, exaggeration and irony. You can also look for creative writing in poetry, multimedia, and creative nonfiction.

The Takeaway:

Finding your voice as a writer begins with determining what type of writing you’re going to tackle. There are no rights or wrong, no better or worse—each is unique and some can even be layered together. Once you uncover your purpose, you can master the writing voice to make your work even stronger.