The Definition and Principles of Literary Writing Style

In literature, literary writing style is the style of expressing thought in language typical of an adult, usually formal, historical, literary, or cultural type. This may be formal, philosophical, dramatic, satirical, or even polemical, and is used to indicate the author’s position in society at the time of writing, and his perceived intentions for the readership. Most often, this form of literary communication is written in dialogue form – that is, between a character and an observer. It may also take the form of narration or a personal narrative, a historical recollection, or a mythological story, and can vary significantly according to the medium in which it is presented.

Literary writing styles are frequently categorized as progressive, or structural, literary styles, and bureaucratic, or functional, or hybrid. Progressive literary styles are characterized by a clear sense of purpose or intent from the beginning of the work, and the ability to sustain the reader’s attention through the length of the work. Structural literary styles tend to build layers of meaning upon one statement, generating multiple layers of meaning that often contradict themselves, leading to a fragmented structure, and often requiring a great amount of literary development to resolve. Writers in bureaucratic or hybrid styles rely on the use of fewer words, structuring the piece in such a way that the meaning of each word is discernible throughout the text. Creative writing styles, by contrast, utilize word play, a wide vocabulary, and powerful words to greater effect.

The most effective writing styles can be extremely difficult to pinpoint, despite the best attempts of literary critics. Often the only true way to determine a writer’s style is to read his or her work. Some writing styles, such as jargon, advertising, and commercial writing, may be difficult to identify because the main premise of the work is left vague. A writer who has difficulty in categorizing his or her own work can sometimes be helped by other forms of writing styles.