Types of Writing

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  • 0:04 The Types of Writing
  • 0:53 Descriptive Writing
  • 2:03 Expository Writing
  • 3:09 Persuasive Writing
  • 4:29 Narrative Writing
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberly McLaughlin

Kimberly has taught Middle School Language Arts for 9 years and has a Master's Degree in Secondary Education.

The four major types of writing are persuasive, descriptive, narrative, and expository. In this lesson you will learn about each of these types in detail, as well as see some short examples to help further understanding.

The Types of Writing

When you are trying to decide what type of writing you want to do, you need to think about a couple of things. You are going to want to think about what you want to say and who you are saying it to. Your specific topic affects what type of writing fits, and your audience also plays a major role in how you deliver what you want to say.

Think of your piece of writing as a road trip. On this road trip you've decided which way you want to go, how you are going to get there, and with whom you are traveling. Where you're going is your topic, how you're getting there is your type of writing, and who you're going with is your audience. Whether it be fiction or non-fiction, once you have chosen what you want to talk about and who you are writing for, you need to decide which of the four writing avenues to take: descriptive, expository, persuasive, or narrative.

Descriptive Writing

In a piece of descriptive writing, your main purpose is to describe something in such detail that your readers can see, touch, feel, taste, etc. what you are writing about. Descriptive writing can be fiction or non-fiction, but most importantly, it needs to put your readers in a place of feeling like they are actually there, wherever you are in your piece.

Starting with the five senses is a great way to focus on how you want to describe something. A good author of descriptive writing will touch on these senses so well that the reader can actually picture themselves being where the author is. The smell of the air, the sound of the wind, and the taste of the food being eaten are good examples of this in practice. An example of this can range from an autobiography or simply a vacation someone has been on. It can be a fictional story about a voyage across the Atlantic or a recap of your favorite New Year's Eve. The main thing to know and remember about a piece of descriptive writing is that you have to always be thinking about your audience in way that actually includes them. You want them to feel like they are a part of your piece by including so many details that they feel like they're there with you, wherever you may be.

Expository Writing

Expository writing is much like a descriptive piece of writing in that you'll include many details, but it'll be writing used to solely inform your readers. In expository writing, the author is interested in describing something for informational purposes. Expository writing is almost always a non-fiction piece that doesn't provide the author's opinion and provides the reader with enough information in order to understand what is being written about.

Again, the audience is very important in this type of writing because who you're writing for influences what type of words and information you use. For example, if you're writing a children's book on different types of flowers, you're probably not going to use the scientific name of a rose. However, if you're writing an article for a science magazine about the same subject, you most likely will want to include the scientific Latinized names for flowers. Both of these examples provide information for your readers, but most importantly, the readers need to understand the information you are giving. When you want to completely inform your readers on a specific topic without giving your opinion, expository writing is the way to go.

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