EP88: Skills Part 4 (writing)
Today we're going to be talking about “writing”.
This is a skill you cannot ignore.
If you do you will regret it.
If you take the TIME to learn to do it right, you will be rewarded generously for the efforts you make.
No matter what your medium of communication...
Whether you have a podcast, a blog, a YouTube channel, or any other medium by which you are serving others, writing your message will be required.
Though most writers, bloggers, YouTubers, and the like, don't talk about it much, I am sure they think about it.
"What writing style should I use?"
And the answer is...
All of them!
In this episode, I’ll attempt to explain:
- the difference between your voice and your writing style.
- what are the 4 common types of writing styles. [though there are more - Google it!]
- what each one is for.
- how to choose a primary style for your writing.
- when and how to use them in your writing process.
So, let's get started.
I’ll show you how to use each style to hold your readers’ attention and get your audience talking about your information. That's what you want, right? You want to motivate your audience to action!
The difference between voice and writing style
Authors, bloggers, marketers, and any other form of content creators, need to connect to their readers through a combination of voice and writing style.
Your voice is about how you speak and think. It’s about the words you use and the patterns in your writing.
Your voice is unique to you.
It is how you are recognized.
Your writing style is about how you’re approaching the reader at any given moment:
- persuasive writing persuades the reader.
- expository writing explains things to the reader.
- narrative writing tells the reader a story.
- descriptive writing describes things to the reader.
But that isn’t the whole picture.
Sometimes the best way to explain something is to tell a story that illustrates your point.
And sometimes the best way to persuade your readers is to explain the facts.
That’s why your writing should often use all 4 writing styles together.
As we go through each of the 4 different writing styles below, remember that the point isn’t to pick just one.
It’s to understand when and how to use each of them to give your readers the most value and make your subject the best it can be.
So you need to be...
There are several writing styles you could choose from, but today we will be discussing 4 main styles.
The 4 Main Types of Writing Styles
1. Persuasive writing style
Persuasive writing aims to convince readers to adopt your point of view. When writing a persuasive piece, you want to share your opinion and provide facts and evidence to support it.
Let’s say I wanted to write about the value of doing something new at work.
One way to convince the boss, to allow it to take place, would be to use a persuasive writing style.
Like most examples of persuasive writing, you will want to make a direct appeal to the reader.
You would mention a few benefits but you won't usually offer any hard facts. There would be no numbers or percentages.
This style of writing works well for appealing to the reader on an emotional level, especially when you’re writing about intangibles.
It also works well for short segments of introductory writing that are followed up by hard facts.
2. Narrative writing style
People love stories. We’re hard-wired to pay attention to them. We think in story mode.
Everything we think about is referenced back to something we know to be true, have experienced, or read about.
Narrative writing aims to tell a story. It usually includes a beginning and ending and may have common narrative elements, such as characters, setting, conflict, resolution, and dialogue.
Narrative writing may offer the point of view of one of the characters, known as the first person, or employ a narrator, known as the third person.
That’s why they work so well as hooks, even in nonfiction.
Especially in nonfiction.
But, let's not forget...
It’s all too easy to bore a reader with:
- lists of disconnected facts.
- more explanation than they need.
- examples they can’t relate to.
Stories bridge those gaps. They can:
- connect facts.
- teach without explaining.
- help readers see themselves as a part of your writing.
The narrative writing style is great for grabbing a reader’s attention:
Even if your information isn’t filled with examples of narrative writing from beginning to end, including a few stories will go a long way toward keeping your audience interested.
3. Descriptive writing style
A descriptive writing style takes narrative writing a step further.
Descriptive writing tells readers about a person, place, or event. As a creative form of writing, it often employs vivid details and strong imagery to describe its subject. The goal of descriptive writing is to help readers envision what you're writing about.
To bring your WORDS to LIFE.
To put some WIND in those SAILS.
People often associate descriptive writing with flowery, poetic phrases, but strong descriptive writing is the opposite.
Descriptive writing is a lot like salt. A little bit goes a long way.
Use descriptive writing to set the scene and add some flavor to your writing, but be careful not to overuse it.
It’s especially good for adding humor or making certain examples stick in readers’ minds.
4. Expository writing style
Expository writing seeks to explain or describe a subject. It shares information and details without offering the author's opinion on the topic.
Compared to the other styles of writing, you might expect expository writing to be limited to scientific journals and instruction manuals—but that’s not true at all.
Expository writing follows up persuasive and narrative writing with hard facts, adding logical power to your stories and examples.
You might hook your reader with a story and then provide a bullet-point list of the key things you learned from that experience.
Or you might start a chapter with an emotional appeal and follow that up with 5 measurable statistics that support your point of view.
The expository style is a direct, effective way to give your reader important information or instructions.
It doesn’t usually make the best hook, but there are exceptions to every rule.
The global rate for washing hands after using the toilet is under 20 percent.
A shocking statistic, for example, can grab a reader’s attention just as well as any story.
So you're asking yourself right now...
Which primary writing style is best for you and your type of writing?
Most nonfiction books use all of these styles in combination.
And I believe you should use them when creating your writing.
For example, in a single email, you might:
- hook your reader with a story. (narrative)
- add sensory details to make the story memorable. (descriptive)
- follow up with an emotional appeal. (persuasive)
- list 4 bullet-point statistics that support your argument. (expository)
- humanize those statistics with another story. (narrative)
- end your writing with steps readers can take. (expository)
That’s why it’s important to be familiar with all 4 writing styles.
But how much you use each one of these methods will depend on a combination of 2 things:
- what you’re most comfortable with. And...
- what your writing needs to be, to be effective in solving your reader’s problem.
Start with the one that’s easiest for you to write
It’s doubtful for a new entrepreneur to start their career completely comfortable with all 4 different types of writing styles. Though if you think about it - you will recognize that we ALL use these 4 styles each and every day, in our everyday lives. We just never thought about it before.
If you’ve read a lot of academic writing or technical writing, you’re probably most comfortable with an expository style. That’s the one that will feel most familiar.
If you’ve read a lot of creative writing, then you might be more comfortable working with a narrative style.
When you’re writing your first draft, you know that shitty one, the most important thing you can do is just get it all down.
Just do a brain dump.
Your primary, go-to style should be the one that’s most comfortable for you.
Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the details of style choice. Just write your first draft in any way that helps you get all your ideas onto the page.
Start with a solid outline and writing plan so you know what you’re trying to share with your readers, but draft those ideas in whatever way works best for you.
Then edit to make your writing clear and compelling
You should start with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention.
This can be a compelling story or a surprising fact or statistic. It can be an unexpected idea that makes the reader want to know more.
There are no rules about which writing style is the best way to do this.
Your writing could easily use all 4 styles especially if you are drafting a long-form email, web page, or blog post. Or it might use the same style every time.
You should do YOU!
A how-to product, on the other hand, will depend heavily on expository writing to provide step-by-step instructions.
If your subject needs to break the mold of traditional thinking, you might need a combination of narrative, persuasive, and expository writing to convince readers that their old way of thinking is wrong.
- Narrative writing provides concrete examples of your ideas in action.
- Persuasive writing asks provocative questions that lead your readers down a new path.
- Expository writing follows up with facts, statistics, and instructions to implement your ground-breaking solutions.
Once you have all your ideas down in a complete draft, you can start to edit your work and decide what’s working and what isn’t.
You might add a short story to illustrate a point. Or you might decide your work needs more explanation to help readers adapt a solution to their situation.
Consider each of the 4 styles and decide what each section needs to best serve the reader and hold their interest.
Even in the middle of your writing, you might want to persuade your readers using certain key truths even as you are sharing a story.
There isn’t always a sharp line between these categories, and there are no hard and fast rules about how and when to use them.
Here’s the only rule when it comes to writing styles:
You should never feel boxed in by writing styles, and they should never limit you or your writing.
The ONLY point of these different styles of writing is to help you think more deeply about how to communicate with your readers, so you can help them solve their problems.
I'm calling it.
I’ll be back again next week.
I hope to see you then.
Bye for now.
James "still writing & learning" Brown
P.S. - In the event, you DO find that once an episode has been produced and posted, that YOU really would like more information, just let me know. Use the Podcast Questions link, click on the link here. Or you can just leave a voice message here.