Five Types of Genres in Writing

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Writrs use different genres of writing depending on what they seek to accomplish.
Writrs use different genres of writing depending on what they seek to accomplish.

Since written communication was created at least 6000 years ago, writing has changed greatly from primitive pictographic word-pictures on clay and wood to the plethora of types of writing we now enjoy. Writing today comes in dozens of types and styles depending on what the purpose of the writer is, not to mention coming in hundreds of languages. One way to examine writing is to break writing into specific types, or genres. There are five broad genres that most subcategories of writing can be placed into, although much of writing can spill into more than one.

  1. Writing to Explain

    • One of the most practical types of writing is writing to explain things. This explanatory form is commonly employed in school in the form of standard five-paragraph essay, research papers and comparisons. Also in this category is expository writing such as biographies, "how-to" pieces and character sketches. The purpose of this genre is to explain and examine a person, place, thing or idea in a way that gives the reader a more thorough understanding of the topic.

    Writing to Communicate

    • Writing to communicate is an early writing style that has undergone changes in the so-called Information Age This sometimes less formal method of writing includes letter writing, email, text messaging, personal and professional journals, blogging and business or personal written communication. This writing genre tends to focus on the individual personality and intent of the writer more than merely explaining something and is more personal than other, colder forms. It is also more likely to be written in first person than other genres.

    Writing to Tell a Story

    • Another early yet still important writing genre is the story. Since the days of primitive communication such as cave paintings and hieroglyphics, humans have attempted to document what has happened in their lives. These stories may or may not be true as they are told from the writer's prospective. Narrative, or story-telling writing catalogs events for current and future readers to explain the events from a specific prospective. Examples of this genre are short stories and narrative works as well as autobiographies and histories.

    Writing to Persuade

    • Sometimes writing has a more pointed purpose. Writing to persuade involves offering not only facts but a slant that directs the reader to make a commitment or decision. While spanning many diverse sub-genres, this writing always attempts to lead the reader to do what the writer requests. Examples of this genre include promotional and political advertisements, merchandise or other reviews, propaganda, letters in the editorial section of a newspaper and fundraising letters.

    Writing as Art

    • Sometimes writing is performed simply to express emotion, display feelings or merely for fun. Writing as art encompasses many topics and may or may not have a deep meaning or purpose. The value, appreciation and translation of this work can vary greatly by who reads it. Poetry is the classic example of this genre,although fiction, nonsense writing and text-message emoticons can also fall into this category. This category can spill into the other genres but will typically look much different in the process.

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