Writing is a powerful tool to express human emotions, knowledge, and ideas and for businesses to attract new clients through marketing or online content. Through writing, you invite others into your thoughts, filtered through your pen (or cursor!) and deriving from your own unique perspective. But did you know that your unique writing style is only one factor in creating powerful content for your readers? Knowing which kind of writing to use and when will enable you to reach your audience with greater nuance and depth. Here, we focus on the four main types: expository, descriptive, narrative, and persuasive.
Expository writing is one familiar to many college students with the unfortunate reputation of being “boring.” However, expository reading and writing effectively broaden the mind and enlarge the understanding. Why? Simply put, expository writing requires the writer to investigate a concept. Like a detective, the writer evaluates evidence, expounds on ideas, and sets forth a clear and concise argument. A good expository writer uses the tools of rhetoric to do this; definition, example, comparison and contrast, and the analysis of cause and effect. For graduate students or those pursuing peer-reviewed publication, a good editor will take your research from good to journal-ready.
Writers are admonished to “show, don’t tell,” an encouragement to use the descriptive style of writing. A little like painting with words, the author endeavors to create a picture in your mind, inspiring imagination with literary devices (metaphor, simile, imagery, and symbolism). Writers with a strong descriptive style are highly observant individuals who pay close attention to details by using their five senses. The best examples of descriptive writing are not expository (investigative) or persuasive (convincing the reader of something), but the author’s attempt to describe things as she sees or experiences them. You most often find descriptive writing in fiction, but memoir and poetry are also excellent places to find this most sensory-based of the writing types. For businesses, services or products need descriptions such that your audience understands, or can see, touch, smell, or hear how your business makes their lives better. How do you know they understand? They’ll contact you, ask for more information, hire you.
Chances are you’ve exposed yourself to narrative writing in some fashion. Almost every long piece of writing employs narrative writing, including all types of fiction. Narrative tells a story, and a story isn’t complete without a setting, characters, and conflict. Consequently, dialogue is most usually found in the narrative type. Because story-telling is innate to human nature, many beginner writers will start their writing careers with this type. Ironically, though considered the easiest to read, narrative writing is the most difficult to reproduce; the best narrative writers spend years honing their craft. Some of the best blogs come from a narrative perspective, speaking directly to your audience.
Academic papers are a hotbed for combining expository with persuasive writing to lay out evidence for a position, then convince their audience why that position is important. And so, you will encounter not only facts and evidence, but also the author’s opinions and biases. Persuasive writing is a bit like entering into a dynamic conversation complete with conflicting ideas, motivations, and assumptions. While finished works typically exhibit some overlap, persuasive writing makes frequent use of narrative and description to create emotional resonance in the reader as well as expository to defend an idea. Some elements of persuasive writing include close attention to language and tone and the proper use of rhetoric and repetition. Any marketing content has a foundation here, to build a connection with your audience and entice them to engage with you. Properly laid out, you will convince your audience to buy your products or hire you for your services.
How can these styles be better implemented into your business content to draw in new clients? Set up a consultation with me to discuss how focusing on a writing type can push your writing content forward!