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Style in Literature: Definition, Types & Examples

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  • 0:00 Writing Style in Literature
  • 0:20 Expository Writing
  • 1:24 Descriptive Writing
  • 2:26 Persuasive Writing
  • 4:00 Creative Writing
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Anderson
In this lesson, you'll learn what style means in literature and how to identify the four most popular writing styles. These include expository, descriptive, persuasive, and creative writing styles. Afterwards, take a quiz to test your knowledge.

Writing Style in Literature

Writing style refers to the ways a writer presents his or her thoughts. Elements like word choice, descriptions, and creative devices are the accessories writers use to make their work pop. In this lesson, we're going to examine four types of writing styles found in literature. Those types include expository writing, descriptive writing, persuasive writing, and creative writing.

Expository Writing

Expository writing refers to writing that requires the author to explain a subject. For instance, the writing I did to create this very video is expository writing! Other forms of expository writing include textbooks, how-to manuals, technical documents, and recipes. One rule of thumb for expository writing: it has to remain objective. Objectivity is writing that is free from personal opinion.

Here's a specific example of expository writing: 'If you want to make fresh coffee, you'll need water, a coffee maker, a coffee filter, and your favorite ground coffee.'

Another specific example of expository writing is, 'Today, coffee is grown in a multitude of countries around the world. Whether it is Asia or Africa, Central or South America, the islands of the Caribbean or Pacific, all can trace their heritage to the trees in the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau.'

Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is when the author is trying to paint a picture for you. Descriptive writing, by its nature, is poetic, often using sensory details to pull the reader into the writer's world. Here is an example of descriptive writing from E.B. White's 'Once More to the Lake.' White is revisiting a lake he used to visit as a child.

White writes, 'I kept remembering everything, lying in bed in the mornings--the small steamboat that had a long rounded stern like the lip of a Ubangi, and how quietly she ran on the moonlight sails, when the older boys played their mandolins and the girls sang and we ate doughnuts dipped in sugar, and how sweet the music was on the water in the shining night, and what it had felt like to think about girls then.'

In this passage, White vividly remembers how he felt when he visited the lake of his childhood. White does not simply say, 'Wow. That lake I went to was pretty cool. I'm glad I went back.' Rather, he shows his reader the world he is observing.

Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing is pretty much what it sounds like: the writer is trying to persuade you to see his or her point-of-view. Persuasive writing is subjective since the writer is using his or her opinions to support a central idea. Some forms of persuasive writing include presidential speeches, opinion-based editorials in the newspaper, or texts that serve as 'calls to action.'

Here's an example of persuasive writing. It's a passage taken from Martin Luther King's 'A Letter from Birmingham Jail,' where he writes to his clergymen, explaining why he was encouraging all of the demonstrations:

'You may well ask: Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path? You are quite right in calling for negotiation…this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.'

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