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Writing

How to Find Your Writing Style: 8 Tips for Developing Voice and Tone

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 4 min read

Just like a famous designer might have a unique fashion style, great writers develop their own style of writing that becomes their signature way of telling a story or communicating an idea. From the rhythm of your story to the words you use, the way you come across in your writing defines your style. Try these tips for finding a good writing style that fits who you are and the stories you want to tell.

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What Is Writing Style?

A writing style is an author’s unique way of communicating with words. An author creates a style with the voice, or personality, and overall tone that they apply to their text. A writer’s style can change depending on the type of writing they’re doing, who they’re writing for, and their target audience. A news journalist will have a very different style than a blogger, for example.

2 Elements of Any Writing Style

An author’s writing style is defined by two elements:

  1. Voice: Voice is the personality you take on in your writing. It is the point of view through which you’re telling a story.
  2. Tone: Tone is identified by the attitude that a piece of writing conveys. Writers create tone through elements like word choice, sentence structure, and grammar.

4 Types of Writing Styles

There are four main types of writing. While a writer will still incorporate their own voice in their writing, these different writing styles each have a purpose and specific audience, which dictates how an author should shape their copy:

  1. Expository writing: Use an expository writing style to inform or explain a topic to readers. Examples of expository writing include technical writing, business writing, high school essays, and news articles.
  2. Descriptive writing: Descriptive writing uses figurative language and sensory detail to describe a person, place, or thing to allow readers to create a picture in their mind. Descriptive writing is the style of writing most often found in poetry.
  3. Narrative writing: Narrative style is writing that tells a story and includes elements often found in a novel or short story, like the main character, setting, and plot. It is most often used in fiction writing. Examples of narrative writing style include The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, and The Lord of the Rings.
  4. Persuasive writing: When you use a persuasive writing style, you communicate your opinion to try to influence the reader to adopt your stance on a subject. Examples of persuasive writing include cover letters, advertising campaigns, political speeches, and editorials.
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8 Tips for Developing Your Writing Style

Whether you’re writing a novel or an article, you need a unique writing style that is distinctly you. Follow these general guidelines to help you find that style and develop your writing voice and tone:

  1. Be original. Focus on the point you are trying to make and say it as only you can. Avoid using clichés—they lack creativity and originality and imply that you can’t think of anything else to write. Choose language that reflects both who you are and who you’re writing for.
  2. Use your life experiences. The accumulation of unique experiences in your life have given you a distinct point of view. Incorporate that into your writing process. Let events in real life that have shaped you also inform your own work and voice.
  3. Be present in your writing. Whether you’re developing a narrative storyline or writing a blog post, immerse readers in your story by being present when you write. Use an authentic tone. Use efficient syntax to effectively convey the details of your story.
  4. Have an adaptable voice. While you should have a confident and consistent voice, writing styles should shift depending on what type of writing you’re doing. Different genres will work better with different types of writing styles. In creative writing, your personality will shift depending on the narrator’s perspective, and whether the story is told through first person or third person. Writing narratives with heavy dialogue, like screenplays, will require a writer to take on different styles with each character.
  5. Step out of your comfort zone. Don't be afraid to experiment a little in your writing. While your style should reflect who you are, it should also stretch the limits of your literary personality. Incorporate a variety of literary devices to amplify your voice.
  6. Read other authors. William Faulkner. Margaret Atwood. Stephen King. Ernest Hemingway. Each author has a unique voice, tone, and overall writing style they developed over the course of their writing career. Read some of your favorite authors as well as famous writers you’re not yet familiar with, and focus on how they use words and compose sentences to tell a story.
  7. Write often. Good writers have a regular writing habit. The more you write, the more your writer’s voice will come into focus. One method many writers use is to have a morning journal. This daily writing ritual requires a three-page, longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing exercise first thing every morning. You’ll develop better writing skills and find your own unique style.
  8. Hone your craft. Once you feel like you have a handle on your personal style, consider these other, more technical ways you can further improve your writing style.

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