Did you know that while most writers are taught the importance of their opening page, different writing styles are arguably even more crucial for engaging readers? Readers often differentiate writers by their different writing styles.
The type of narrative a writer creates is what draws specific readers into the story and keeps them turning pages. For writers, ensuring readers stay engaged until the last page is crucial to your author career.
With this in mind, it’s time to take a deep dive into different writing styles, defining what they are, key differences among the various styles, and examples to inspire your own writing. Once you identify your own style you can press into your own originality and help your writing stand out in the marketplace. Let’s get going!
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Defining Different Writing Styles
Different writing styles are simply the way a writer combines words into sentences to communicate their story. For example, there are specific book genres the majority of authors write in. A few of these genres are:
- Fantasy and science fiction
- Historical fiction
If you browsed the shelves of your local bookstore and stumbled across the historical fiction section, you’d likely notice several novels set in a similar type period. What sets these books apart from each other? Their plots can differ in some ways, but it’s often the different writing styles the author uses that take a book to bestseller status.
Many authors have written stories centering on World War II, but Kristin Hannah’s unique writing style played a role in boosting her specific novel, The Nightingale, to bestseller status.
Our next question quickly becomes, what sets these different writing styles apart? What was so original about Kristin Hannah’s novel? While a majority of factors influence whether or not a book becomes a bestseller, good writing sells.
Let’s discuss a few of the key variations in different writing styles.
Key Differences In Style
Overall style, tone, theme, literary devices used, etc., are each an ingredient of various writing styles. Writing is an extremely subjective business and there is no one specific style that wins out every time.
The key fact to consider when identifying your specific writing style is what you naturally gravitate to and what most resonates with your audience. Below are six different writing styles to help get you started in identifying your own.
#1 – Poetic
Poetic writing is not only reserved for poetry. In fact, some of the most-loved prose uses poetic writing throughout its narrative. Creating a poetic structure within novels can add a deeper beauty to the words on a page, engaging readers in a more artistic reading of the story.
#2 – Descriptive
Descriptive writing is, as you may assume, one of the different writing styles that focuses more heavily on description. Many of the classics used this type of style. The iconic authors we studied in high school are known for pages of description. For today’s readers, a descriptive writing style looks quite a bit more stripped down. Description is crucial to the story, but in our fast-paced culture, it’s important to be succinct.
#3 – Creative
Stylistically, creative writing is one of the more original among the different writing types. Publishers and readers are often eager to find that “new voice,” the writer who tells the story in a way unique among their peers. Creative writing is highly subjective, but mastering your creative voice will help set your writing apart, much like Kurt Vonnegut.
Kurt Vonnegut was a master of creative writing, and his willingness to experiment with different styles and techniques helped him to create some of the most memorable and beloved works of literature ever written. His accomplishments and unique storytelling approach have inspired other authors to learn how to write like Kurt Vonnegut.
#4 – Tone
Tone is a one-word way to describe the personality, attitude, and outlook behind your writing. Writers naturally employ their individual tone into their work, and oftentimes, the fun lies in communicating the various tones of their characters in a natural, realistic way.
#5 – Theme
While themes in books often fall as a subcategory of plot, with plot being the actions that take place and themes being the subliminal message behind the action, it is often a writing style. If you have a favorite author, you probably noticed they tend to write similar themes from book to book.
#6 – Literary Devices
Literary devices, also known as literary elements, is a category that encompasses a plethora of different writing styles, which I discuss momentarily. Allegory, personification, and irony are just a few of the various literary devices writers can integrate into their stories.
That said, each device leads readers to different perceptions regarding the importance of specific plot points and characters. Let’s look at just a few ways literary devices impact perception.
Allegory Points To The Bigger Picture
Allegory is an often-used device that allows writers to teach a lesson or point to a truth without the need for expository writing. For instance, a writer could create a fictional world or plot that symbolizes a specific event in real life.
Personification Helps Readers Naturally Connect
Personification attributes human qualities to non-human aspects. Storms can rage. Rain can dance. Using personification in certain instances, say describing a natural disaster with human aspects, can help readers connect at a deeper level.
Irony Teaches A Subtle Lesson
Crime, thriller, and romance writers often use irony to teach a lesson. There are many types of irony, and various writers use the different types to teach lessons. Consider the characters in The Wizard of Oz requesting character qualities they exemplified on their journey to find Oz.
Examples Of Different Writing Styles
Now that you have a general grasp of different writing styles it’s time to discuss a few examples. Note: Use these examples to inspire your own unique writing style, but resist the urge to copy another writer’s work.
Kristin Hannah uses poetry writing to open her bestseller, The Nightingale,“In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
Ernest Hemingway uses great description in A Farewell To Arms, “The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breezes.”
Our list couldn’t be complete without an example from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Arguably one of the most creative writers of all time, note how he combines an entirely new type of character (Elves) with the familiar (June and stars), “Tired as he was, Bilbo would have liked to stay awhile. Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars, not if you care for such things.”
To pull another example from Kristin Hannah, note how the tone she uses for her characters reinforces her use of poetic writing: “I want to imagine there will be peace when I am gone, that I will see all the people I have loved and lost. At least that I will be forgiven. I know better, though, don’t I?”
Theme is more difficult to identify in a single sentence, but consider a few of the ending lines from Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winner, To Kill A Mockingbird, “‘He was real nice…’ His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. ‘Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.’”
Last, consider this line from John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, “The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed: It was past eight thirty and still light.”
Enjoy trying the different writing styles mentioned in your drafts and discovering which works best for you!