Don’t describe your characters like you’re telling the police about a suspect. Describe your characters like you’re guiding an artist through a painting when they can’t see the model.
“Her eyes were green.” Vs. “Her almond-shaped eyes glinted with emerald specs amid olive green eyes.”
See the difference? One you can just say ok, and the other you have to form that picture in your mind. You have a definite image in your mind. If you go too far, it will make the reader slow down and stretch their mind around the abundance of detail, so know when to stop.
“Her almond-shaped eyes that slanted down to the sides of her nose glinted in the sunlight with emerald specs amid the olive green iris in her thin eyes, hidden behind winged eyeliner and mascara.”
Nobody needs to read all of that in one go. If it’s necessary to know about her makeup, then by all means, describe it. But you have an entire story. You don’t have to info dump every bit of detail into one line. It’s off-putting to read such a long line about one feature on one character. Also, remember that once you tell your readers that her nose slopes gently upward at the tip, you don’t have to tell them again. Once later in the story, if it is relevant perhaps, but it isn’t a feature worth repeating. Now if your pirate has a scar that will identify him in a crowd or a tattoo that you never noticed part of before, you can mention it more frequently.
The story of the Boy Who Lived isn’t half as interesting if you didn’t know about the purple-faced uncle that ruffled his bushy mustache as he locked the rusty bolt on the outside of the door on the cupboard under the stairs. This level of detail in one line is fine, as it briefly describes both the character and part of the setting. Your mind can flow from the face to the hand locking the bolt right? Keep this sort of motion in mind when forming your details.
Narrative writing is the process of writing narratively. Was that contrary? I apologize. Let’s talk about this a bit more. Writing narratively is characterized by a series of events that are encountered by the main character in a particular setting. To be straightforward; a story. But it’s not just telling a story like a timeline, a narrative has several requirements. You must think about the purpose of the story, the tone, and voice of the narrator, the story structure, and the writing portion of organization and structure. Word choices will be crucial for a narrative, as you need to keep the same narration throughout your work.
There are many ways to approach a narrative or any type of writing. The elements used are all pretty much the same, but the order in which they appear doesn’t always fall into place in the same order. The way you break them down will be up to you and be very dependent on the type of work and the purpose of the piece you are working on. If you are writing for professional purposes, you may have a more factual grounding and therefore require more structure than something that is written for entertainment. Either way, organizing, and plotting will be your biggest needs.
Persuasive writing is a particularly useful skill utilized by writers to present their stance on an issue. By clearly sharing their opinions through structured writing, authors can convince their audiences to feel a certain way about the topic. The structure to this kind of writing has a sort of checklist that is required for success.
- Introduction: This is a short overview of the topic and where the writer stands considering the matter.
- Body: This section, is most of the article. This will contain the argument at hand, and the evidence supporting the chosen side.
- Conclusion: This is the last word in the article that presents the cohesive summary of everything; the argument, the evidence, and the stance.
The obvious example here is a debate. The debate coaches during the presidential campaigns? Persuasive. The speeches given by the presidential candidates? Persuasive. These are clear examples, but I bet you didn’t know that you see examples of persuasive writing every day. While advertisements may be visual rather than writing, the text slides in videos, the script for the commercial, even the slogan is designed to be persuasive in nature.
How about the review of the online company you were thinking about trying? There are choices given by the platforms for you to decide where you stand on that company when you want to review it. The 5-star ratings are telling you to trust the company, and give them your business. The ones who leave a detailed review about their experience with the awesome customer representative and the quality of the product, are clearly supporting the matter. Any 1-star ratings will tell you about the rude rep they dealt with and how their protein powder showed up open and spilled. You never thought about it as a writing example. It’s a short example, but it is still that.
Remember to watch for persuasive terminology as you read. These are keywords in every style of writing that will trigger certain thoughts or feelings in the reader. While an expository piece of writing will contain very factual phrasing like “firstly”, “additionally”, “most importantly”, and “for these reasons”, a piece of entertainment writing will rely on the detail (article coming soon) to invoke certain emotions within you.
So next time you see an advertisement for the best diets and health crazes or the most beautiful places to travel to, remember, these are writers trying to sway you to their side.
Expository. This is the type of writing that explains everything. This is the most flexible and most commonly used genre of writing. Arguably, it is the most important as well. You could write the most detailed piece that has poetry flowing through it, but if nobody can understand it, it will be forgotten. Clear communication is a must, even on paper…or screen.
The main purpose of the expository genre is to provide information about the subject in the article. The trick here is to explain your topic without bias. You have to find a way to balance the support information in a neutral way and use only the facts. Chanel your inner Vulcan for this style, take out all emotion and personal standing.
Informational writing is primarily seen in factual examples such as news articles, dictionaries, textbooks, manuals, and helpful blogs (like this one). If it requires research and proven fact, you can bet that you will read less narration and description and more details. The “how to” and the “what you need to know” articles are the cream of the crop for this section.
How to write? Well that’s a loaded question don’t you think? As I mentioned briefly in my “What Is Writing?” post, there are many different types of writing. The “how to” portion varies depending on what kind of writing you need to perform.
The first step in writing is figuring out what kind of writing you are working on. After that, you need to zero in on the subject. The purpose of the writing can also help you figure out what kind of writing you’re working on if you’re struggling to nail that first part down. Once you have those answers, you’ll just have to add the filler text, which should include all of your supporting information or details.
Keep reading for a quick glance at the kinds of answers you can have here, but don’t forget to subscribe and come back later for the detailed articles!
The 6 Styles of writing
EXPOSITORY – You can also call this one informational, as the main goal of this type of writing is to inform. You can instruct, define, clarify or even just introduce a topic to someone. For example, this post is informing you of the writing process, and therefore it is expository.
PERSUASIVE – Do you have an opinion about something? Write it like you’re presenting a one sided debate. If you’re trying to make someone believe the same things as you, it’s persuasive.
NARRATIVE – To put it simply, this is the “Once Upon A Time” style. Tell me a story; fiction or non-fiction, both are included in this category. Narrative writing gives you the events of an entire story.
DESCRIPTIVE – This one is pretty self explanatory if you look at it. The purpose of this style of writing is to, you guessed it, describe. It sounds a bit like narrative, and to a point it is a component, but this is where you give the detail. The story of the Boy Who Lived isn’t half as interesting if you didn’t know about the purple faced uncle that ruffled his bushy mustache as he locked the rusty bold on the outside of the door on the cupboard under the stairs. If you’re writing for entertainment certainly, invite the devil with the detail.
TECHNICAL – <Insert topic here> for Dummies. Yes, I said dummies. Not that your readers should be viewed as dumb though. This is a type of writing that takes complex topics and aims to simplify it so anyone can follow it.
POETIC – This style is debated depending on who you talk to, but I personally like to count it as its own genre. This is the minute and quick style. Did you write a tweet today? Did you make it rhyme? Was it beautifully crafted? You just wrote poetry.
Define the subject of your writing
Who remembers writing papers in English class in college, or even high school? One of the things on the grading rubric was “subject sentence”, and that hasn’t changed. Usually, the title of the work will help you suss out the subject of the piece you’re writing. The subject for this article should be easy to find, it’s the same as the title. How to write.
Support the subject
This is the rest of the writing. Obviously this will be the supporting text, the details, the story, etc.; but this section also includes the usual checklist of writing. Full sentences, proper grammar, spelling, voice, not droning on and on and on… You get the picture.
My next six blog posts will dive further into the 6 Styles Of Writing. So don’t forget to follow the blog!