The four forms of writing (writing styles)
There are four forms: narrative, exposition, persuasive and descriptive. Which one you choose determines how your piece is written.
When thinking about which form to write in you need to know what you want to convey. Are you:
- sharing information →narrative form
- provide proof of something →expository form
- want to persuade somebody →persuasive form
- or trying to tell a great story →descriptive form
Depending on your intent, the form will be different.
Taking for instance current events in Canada. An article from CBC News detailing the convoy protest. In it, John is sharing information while structuring it as a story.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the anti-vaccine-mandate protests that have gripped the nation’s capital for the last four days, saying he won’t meet with people who promote hate and espouse anti-science views.
Speaking to reporters Monday from a quarantine site where he’s staying while the protests continue in the parliamentary precinct, Trudeau said he watched in horror this weekend as some of the protesters carried flags with Nazi insignia and climbed the National War Memorial.
The beginning is detailing the reaction of the Prime Minister towards the convoy. The body is detailing the protestor’s and politicians reactions the occupation. The conclusion is detailing the reaction by police and residents of the area.
Now it should be noted that narrative writing doesn’t mean that you must have a character, conflict and setting but the majority of narrative writing will contain at least on of those.
Examples: Short stories, news article, poetry, novels
Take for example a piece of writing that is meant to explain the structure of a planet. In it we could say something like ‘..as we know the planet Jupiter is a large planet that has a large red spot capable holding 1.3 Earths.’ Though we’re not close enough to make this is possible, doing so would cause Earth to actually be pulled directly towards Jupiter. The fact is, because of Jupiter’s size relative to Earth, Earth itself would burn up in the atmosphere before making contact with Jupiters’ surface.’
As you read, the writing was presenting the facts about Jupiter in relation to Earth and how the proximity (closeness) would affect the planets. Also notice that I have provided evidence through a link.
This is mandatory when writing an expository piece because like with persuasive you’re making sure your writing is believable and verified to the reader so you can be trusted.
Examples: Research articles, how-to guides, game walkthroughs, some news articles, research papers
It’s typically used when trying to persuade someone that your view on something is true. Unlike expository, you’re allowed to use opinions with or without evidence.
Take this article from CBC News by Dr. Cory Neudorf, Let’s not play Russian roulette with Omicron and embrace it as inevitable.
Waves of COVID-19 keep coming with disturbing frequency, wearing down even those who have followed public health advice up to now. Despite warnings that the pandemic would likely last two to three years with multiple surges requiring an ebb and flow of restrictions, many people feel we should be back to normal with the availability of vaccines, and are feeling something akin to buyer’s remorse at this stage.
More transmissible COVID-19 variants have poked holes in our layers of defence, finding ways to get around masks and vaccines in some cases and taking advantage of our need for increased social connection. Due to its billing as a less severe form of COVID-19, is it any wonder that the Omicron variant wave is tempting us to just “get it over with already” and resign ourselves to getting sick?
Unfortunately, science and sober second thought shows us that is likely not a good idea. Eventually, we hope to be able to live with COVID-19 in a more endemic state, with some combination of a less severe variant and sufficient population immunity but we aren’t quite there yet.
Here are a few reasons why it may not be a great idea to “get it over with” and catch the Omicron variant of COVID-19:
Omicron may be less severe, but it’s not mild. Just like previous variants, the risk of complications increases with extremes in age, or in those with other medical conditions, but it also increases with less prior immunity. Omicron doesn’t appear to be much different than previous variants in the unimmunized. Its relatively milder effects may be partly due to less severe outcomes in the immunized population.
Even if you manage to avoid hospitalization, you can still have long-term symptoms from this viral infection. The so-called long-COVID symptoms, which can last weeks or months for many people, include memory, concentration or sleep problems, aches and pains, fatigue, headache, depression and anxiety, shortness of breath, and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle.
If you manage to avoid these problems, you can still end up spreading COVID to others even before you know you are contagious, contributing to a runaway growth in cases, including in those who are more vulnerable.
Too many cases at once leads to staff shortages in many essential services and adds to hospital overcapacity since a fixed percentage of these people will require hospital treatment and ICU care. This increases the number of COVID deaths and deaths due to other health issues that can’t be handled. We all need to do our part to keep numbers low, or at least spread them out over time to allow the system to cope.
Also, any immunity you gain from contracting COVID is short term and may be less robust than vaccine-acquired immunity. Infection also carries with it much higher risks of complications than any side effects the vaccine can produce. Catching this strain doesn’t actually mean you are done with COVID personally. You will still be at risk from future variants.
Intentionally exposing yourself to any disease is like playing Russian roulette. You don’t know if you or those more vulnerable around you will get complications. While it is more transmissible, the Omicron variant is still stopped by the measures that have worked for previous waves, we just need to be more vigilant.
In addition, we are fortunate to have vaccines that are effective and safe against all current COVID variants with a booster dose, protecting many against infection and protecting most from severe disease if they happen to get breakthrough illness.
There is no need for returning to the full lockdowns that were required prior to vaccines, as long as people adhere to public health measures during these resurgences and get booster doses as needed.
Eventually, these waves will recede. They will resolve faster if we continue to use common sense, and think beyond ourselves for the good of our community, especially as more of the global population is immunized. We have come too far to quit before we get to the finish line.
In his article he is providing opinions without presenting evidence about what would happen if restrictions are removed while the Omicron variant is still circulating.
This is the most understood writing style because our entire life has been filled with either reading or being read to in this form.
Think of every children story you’ve ever heard and think about whether the story tried to make you imagine what was happening. That is what descriptive writing is meant to do, create imagery, which is lets you imagine an image in your mind.
Take this excerpt from Kazuo Ishiguro’s, Never Let Me Go.
We were fifteen by then, already into our last year at Hailsham. We’d been in the pavilion getting ready for a game of rounders. The boys were going through a phase of “enjoying” rounders in order to flirt with us, so there were over thirty of us that afternoon. The downpour had started while we were changing, and we found ourselves gathering on the veranda — which was sheltered by the pavilion roof — while we waited for it to stop. But the rain kept going, and when the last of us had emerged, the veranda was pretty crowded, with everyone milling around restlessly. I remember Laura was demonstrating to mean especially disgusting way of blowing your nose for when you really wanted to put off a boy.
Miss Lucy was the only guardian present. She was leaning over the rail at the front, peering into the rain like she was trying to see right across the playing field. I was watching her as carefully as ever in those days, and even as I was laughing at Laura, I was stealing glances at Miss Lucy’s back. I remember wondering if there wasn’t something a bit odd about her posture, the way her head was bent down just a little too far so she looked like a crouching animal waiting to pounce. And the way she was leaning forward over the rail meant drops from the overhanging gutter were only just missing her — but she seemed to show no sign of caring. I remember actually convincing myself there was nothing unusual in all this — that she was simply anxious for the rain to stop — and turning my attention back to what Laura was saying. Then a few minutes later, when I’d forgotten all about Miss Lucy and was laughing my head off at something, I suddenly realised things had gone quiet around us, and that Miss Lucy was speaking.
She was standing at the same spot as before, but she’d turned to face us now, so her back was against the rail, and the rainy sky behind her.
“No, no, I’m sorry, I’m going to have to interrupt you,” she was saying, and I could see she was talking to two boys sitting on the benches immediately in front of her. Her voice wasn’t exactly strange, but she was speaking very loudly, in the sort of voice she’d use to announce something to the lot of us, and that was why we’d all gone quiet. “No, Peter, I’m going to have to stop you. I can’t listen to you any more and keep silent.”
Then she raised her gaze to include the rest of us and took a deep breath. “All right, you can hear this, it’s for all of you. It’s time someone spelt it out.”We waited while she kept staring at us. Later, some people said they’d thought she was going to give us a big telling-off; others that she was about to announce a new rule on how we played rounders. But I knew before she said another word it would be something more.
“Boys, you must forgive me for listening. But you were right behind me, so l couldn’t help it. Peter, why don’t you tell the others what you were saying to Gordon just now?”
Peter J. looked bewildered and I could see him getting ready his injured innocence face. But then Miss Lucy said again, this time much more gently:
“Peter, go on. Please tell the others what you were just saying.”
Peter shrugged. “We were just talking about what it would feel like if we became actors. What sort of life it would be.”
”Yes,” Miss Lucy said, “and you were saying to Gordon you’d have to go to America to stand the best chance.”
Peter J. shrugged again and muttered quietly: ‘Yes, Miss Lucy.”
But Miss Lucy was now moving her gaze over the lot of us. “I know you don’t mean any harm. But there’s just too much talk like this. I hear it all the time, it’s been allowed to go on, and it’s not right.” I could see more drops coming off the gutter and landing on her shoulder, but she didn’t seem to notice. “If no one else will talk to you,” she continued, “then I will. The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I daresay, some people are quite happy to leave it that way. But I’m not. If you ‘re going to have decent lives, then you’ve got to know and know properly. None of you will go to America, none of you will be film stars. And none of you will be working in supermarkets as I heard some of you planning the other day. Your lives are set out for you. You’ll become adults, then before you ‘re old, before you ‘re even middle-aged, you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do. You’re not like the actors you watch on your videos, you’re not even like me. You were brought into this world for a purpose, and your futures, all of them, have been decided. So you’re not to talk that way any more. You’ll be leaving Hailsham before long, and it’s not so far off, the day you’ll be preparing for your first donations. You need to remember that. If you ‘re to have decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you.”
Then she went silent, but my impression was that she was continuing to say things inside her head, because for sometime her gaze kept roving over us, going from face to face just as if she were still speaking to us. We were all pretty relieved when she turned to look out over the playing field again.“It’s not so bad now,” she said, even though the rain was as steady as ever.“Let’s just go out there. Then maybe the sun will come out too.”
- “Types of Writing Styles”, Open Oregon, openoregon.pressbooks.pub/aboutwriting/chapter/types-of-writing-styles
- “4 Types of Narrative Writing”, Masterclass, 8 September 2021, masterclass.com/articles/types-of-narrative-writing#4-types-of-narrative-writing
- “Exposition”, LitChart, https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms/exposition, Accessed 2 March 2022.
- “8 Persuasive Writing Tips and Techniques”, Masterclass, 20 September 2021, masterclass.com/articles/persuasive-writing-tips-and-techniques#8-tips-for-better-persuasive-writing
- “Descriptive Writing: Definition, Tips, Examples and Exercises”, PenLighten, penlighten.com/descriptive-writing, Descriptive writing is about using the power of words to arouse the imagination, capture the attention, and create a lasting impact in the mind of the reader. In this article, you’ll learn how to employ descriptive elements in your writing, tips to enhance your descriptive writing skills, and some exercises to better yourself at it.