What Is Style? Definition & 20+ Examples

Ever wondered why some books captivate you from the very first page while others fail to spark any interest? The secret often lies not in the plot or the characters but in the often-overlooked artist’s brush of literature – “style.”

It’s the unique fingerprint of an author, a nuanced dance of words that stirs emotions, builds worlds, and brings characters to life. Each phrase, sentence structure, and punctuation mark weaves a spell that can transport, inspire, and challenge us.

So, let’s delve into the captivating world of style and discover the power it wields in literature.

Defining Style

Style in literature refers to the distinct manner in which an author expresses their ideas through the use of language and literary techniques. It encompasses elements such as word choice, sentence structure, rhythm, and figurative language. The style of a piece of writing helps create its overall atmosphere, making it more engaging and memorable.

An author’s style can be influenced by their background, culture, and personal experiences. As a result, each author’s style is unique and can evolve throughout their career. This distinctiveness allows readers to identify the author’s distinct voice and better understand the themes and messages presented in a piece of literature.

Style also helps establish the purpose of a piece of writing, whether it be to entertain, inform, or persuade. By crafting a distinctive style, authors can connect with their audience in a more impactful way.

Origin of Style

Style in literature has its roots as far back as the oral tradition of storytelling. Throughout history, storytellers used various methods to effectively convey their tales and leave lasting impressions on their audiences. As writing systems evolved and written literature began to emerge, authors continued to employ unique styles in order to distinguish themselves and their work from others.

The ancient Greeks are often credited with being the first to recognize and define style in literature. Aristotle, in his work “On Rhetoric,” classified style into three types: high, middle, and low. The high style was reserved for formal occasions, the middle style for general conversation, and the low style for vulgar and lowly subjects.

These classifications were later expanded and modified by Roman rhetoricians such as Cicero and Quintilian, who added various elements to the concept of style and further divided it into categories based on tone, diction, and figurative language.

The growth of various literary movements over time has also contributed to the development of style. During the Renaissance, classical works of literature were rediscovered and imitated, leading to a revival of classical styles.

The Romantic movement, on the other hand, prioritized emotion, imagination, and individualism, resulting in a proliferation of unique and deeply personal writing styles.

In the modern era, various literary theories and movements have come and gone, each championing its own distinct approach to style. From the experimentation of the Modernists to the minimalism of the Postmodernists, the style has always been an essential component of literature.

Today, style remains a multifaceted and ever-evolving characteristic that allows authors to showcase their unique voices and connect with their readers on a deeper level.

Functions of Style

Communication of Ideas

Style plays a crucial role in effectively conveying ideas to the reader. Through the use of various linguistic tools and devices, an author can emphasize key points, clarify complex concepts, and create comprehensible illustrations.


An engaging writing style captures the reader’s interest by employing rhythmic sentences, captivating vocabulary, and a relatable tone, making the text more enjoyable and memorable.


In persuasive writing, style is instrumental in convincing readers of a particular viewpoint. By using persuasive techniques like rhetorical questions, analogies, and carefully selected words, the author can create an impact on the reader’s mind.

Identification and Individuality

The style allows an author to establish their unique voice and identity. Each writer’s personal style makes their work distinct from others, thus creating a sense of familiarity for readers who encounter their work multiple times.

Expression of Mood and Tone

Style helps portray the intended mood and tone of the text, allowing readers to understand the writer’s emotions or attitude. Elements like diction, sentence structure, and punctuation can convey different feelings and atmospheres.

Impression of Credibility

A well-crafted writing style showcases the author’s expertise and knowledge on a subject, exuding confidence and trustworthiness. Proper grammar, sentence structure, and a smooth flow of ideas contribute to this impression.

Aesthetic Appeal

An aesthetically pleasing style enhances the reading experience. Writers utilize elements such as alliteration, imagery, and varied sentence structures to create visually appealing and rhythmically satisfying texts.

Memory Aid

A distinct writing style helps readers retain information by creating a memorable experience. Devices like repetition, metaphors, and analogies can assist in making concepts easier to understand and remember.

Cultural and Social Expression

Style can convey a sense of cultural and social identity, allowing readers to understand aspects of an author’s background or the historical context. This is achieved through the use of dialects, idiomatic expressions, and references to cultural or social norms.

Importance of Style

Audience Engagement

Style plays a crucial role in engaging readers. A captivating writing style can grab the reader’s attention and hold it throughout the piece, making the content enjoyable and easier to comprehend.

Clarity of Message

A clear and concise style aids in delivering the intended message without ambiguity. By choosing appropriate words and sentence structures, authors can ensure that their ideas are effectively expressed.

Expressive Power

The style allows authors to convey emotions and ideas effectively. It is through nuanced word choices and literary devices that writers create distinct and powerful works of literature.


A persuasive style contributes to the effectiveness of an argument. By employing a well-structured and compelling manner of writing, authors can sway their readers’ opinions in favor of the argument being presented.


A unique and captivating style makes a piece of literature more memorable. Readers are likely to remember and revisit works that were enjoyable to read and had a lasting impact on them.

Identity and Uniqueness

An author’s style serves as their literary fingerprint. It distinguishes their work from others and reflects their unique voice, adding depth and complexity to their creations.

Cultural and Societal Expression

Style can also serve as a medium to present cultural and societal issues. Through linguistic choices and narrative techniques, a piece of literature can evoke the atmosphere of a specific era, society, or culture.

Aesthetic Appeal

A well-crafted style adds beauty and aesthetic appeal to a piece of literature. It elevates the work from mere information sharing to a creative and artistic expression.


A polished and professional style lends credibility to an author’s work. A meticulously edited and well-presented piece is more likely to be taken seriously, gaining the trust and respect of readers.

Elements of Style


Diction refers to the author’s choice of words in a literary work. This choice can reveal the tone, voice, and characterization of the narrative. Each word contributes to the overall meaning and style. A writer’s diction can be simple or complex, formal or informal, and can greatly affect the reader’s experience.


The syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences. A writer’s syntax can be complex or simple, short or long. Syntax contributes to the rhythm and pacing of a text, affecting the reader’s understanding and engagement.


Tone refers to the author’s attitude toward the subject matter or the audience. It can range from serious to sarcastic, lighthearted to somber. The tone helps to create the atmosphere or mood of a story and can influence the reader’s emotions and reactions.


Voice is the unique way an author expresses ideas through language. It is characterized by the writer’s diction, syntax, tone, and rhetorical devices. Voice makes a piece of literature distinct and helps the reader connect with the author’s perspective.

Point of View

Point of view refers to the perspective from which a story is told. It can be first person (using “I” or “we”), second person (using “you”), or third person (using “he,” “she,” “it,” “they”). The choice of point of view influences the reader’s understanding of the events and characters in the story.

Figurative Language

Figurative language includes similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, and other literary devices that convey meaning beyond the literal interpretation of words. These devices can add depth, emotion, and imaginative power to a narrative.


Imagery is the use of vivid and descriptive language to create sensory experiences for the reader. Imagery can evoke the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, and it helps to create vividness and a strong emotional impact in the text.


Punctuation includes the use of marks such as periods, commas, and question marks in written language. Proper punctuation helps to convey meaning, clarify ideas, and create a sense of rhythm and pace in the text.

Organization and Structure

Organization and structure refer to the way a writer organizes and presents the content of a literary work. This can include the arrangement of chapters, sections, or even the order in which events are described. These elements contribute to the overall coherence and flow of the narrative.

Rhetorical Devices

Rhetorical devices are techniques used by the writer to persuade, inform, or express ideas more effectively. Some common rhetorical devices include parallelism, repetition, allusion, and rhetorical questions. They can enhance the clarity and impact of a message, contributing to the unique style of a text.

Genres and Stylistic Techniques

Fiction and Non-fiction

In literature, both fiction and non-fiction genres rely on different stylistic techniques to convey their intended messages. Fiction allows authors to explore their creativity, using imagery, dialogue, and narrative voices to create vivid worlds and characters.

Conversely, non-fiction employs fact-based writing, often incorporating direct quotations, primary sources, and analytical insights to inform and educate readers.


Poetry is another genre that utilizes unique stylistic techniques to evoke an emotional response or convey deep meaning. Poets rely on meter, rhyme, and structure to create a rhythm and flow in their work. Additionally, the use of figurative languages, such as similes, metaphors, and symbolism, adds depth to their pieces, allowing for a connection with the reader.


The comedy genre aims to entertain and make readers laugh through the use of stylistic techniques like wordplay, satire, and irony. Authors in this genre often create amusing scenarios or humorous characters, incorporating puns and hyperbole to exaggerate situations for comedic effect. They may also use parody to mock and critique societal norms in a lighthearted manner.


In the mystery genre, authors utilize stylistic techniques to create suspense and intrigue for their readers. They often build tension through the use of foreshadowing and misdirection, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

Authors may structure their narratives with clues, red herrings, and plot twists, allowing readers to piece together the puzzle and engage with the story on a deeper level.

Types of Style

Expository or Argumentative Style

The expository or argumentative style is straightforward and informative. This writing style focuses on facts and aims to explain a topic or idea to the reader. The language used is precise and clear, avoiding the use of personal anecdotes or opinions.

Descriptive Style

The descriptive style aims to create a vivid picture, using language to evoke the reader’s imagination. It employs sensory details, specific adjectives, and other literary devices, such as similes or metaphors, to help make the subject more vivid and compelling.

Narrative Style

Narrative style tells a story with a plot, characters, and settings. It typically features a clear chronology and utilizes elements of storytelling, such as suspense, dialogue, and conflict, to engage the reader’s emotions and interests.

Persuasive Style

The persuasive style aims to convince the reader to adopt a particular point of view or take a specific action. This writing style uses well-structured arguments, logical reasoning, and powerful language to persuade the reader of the validity of the writer’s position.

Poetic Style

Poetic style is characterized by the use of unique techniques, such as rhyming patterns, metaphors, imagery, and other forms of figurative language. This style often explores emotions, experiences, and personal reflections, with a focus on aesthetics and beauty.

Stream of Consciousness Style

Stream of consciousness style attempts to replicate the thoughts and feelings of a character or narrator as they spontaneously occur. It commonly uses disjointed phrases, incomplete sentences, and abrupt shifts in perspective, showing the inner workings of the character’s mind.

Epistolary Style

The epistolary style incorporates letters, journal entries, or other forms of personal communication among the characters to convey the story. This writing style allows the author to present multiple viewpoints, character emotions, and plot developments through the characters’ written communications.

Minimalist Style

The minimalist style focuses on simplicity, using concise language, straightforward prose, and a limited descriptive palette. This writing style seeks to convey essential information while avoiding excessive detail, embellishments, or unnecessary elements, producing a clear and efficient narrative.

Examples of Style in Literature


"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

Austen's writing is characterized by her wit, humor, and social commentary. She expertly blends dialogue with narrative, keeping readers engaged and invested in the emotional journeys of her characters.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

Lee's novel employs a conversational and descriptive style, using the point of view of a young girl to offer insights into the racial and moral complexities of 1930s Alabama.
"1984" by George Orwell

Orwell's dystopian masterpiece is known for its political commentary, ominous tone, and complex world-building. The novel is written in a direct, clear, and vivid style that effectively conveys its powerful messages.
"Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison

Ellison employs a poetic and symbolic style in his novel, using rich metaphors, allegory, and vivid descriptions to depict the African American experience in the early 20th century.
"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

Salinger's famous work uses a first-person narrative style, featuring colloquial language and introspective exploration of the protagonist's emotions, highlighting themes of alienation and personal growth.

Short Story

"A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor

O'Connor's unique style combines dark humor and grotesque imagery with themes of religious salvation, often within the context of Southern Gothic settings.
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

Jackson's writing is characterized by a subtlety and suspense that create a mounting sense of unease, which often culminates in a shocking and violent conclusion.
"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway's signature terse, minimalist style is on full display in this story, using succinct language to create vivid imagery and emotional depth.
"The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe

Poe's writing is known for its macabre, suspenseful, and atmospheric qualities, often using first-person narration to explore the psyche of his tormented characters.
"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin's style combines a poetic sensibility and moral clarity to create thought-provoking allegorical stories that discuss themes of sacrifice and ethical dilemmas.


"Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas

Thomas's poetry is characterized by its musicality, rhythm, and emotionally charged language, often exploring themes of love, death, and the power of the human spirit.
"The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot

Eliot's writing is marked by its complexity, erudition, and use of a wide range of literary and cultural references, creating a multi-layered experience for the reader.
"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg's work utilizes free verse, vivid imagery, and unapologetic political and social commentary, epitomizing the Beat Generation's style and ethos.
"Daddy" by Sylvia Plath

Plath's poetry is intensely personal, using vivid language and confessional themes to explore her inner turmoil and struggles with mental health.
"Harlem" by Langston Hughes

Hughes's poetry is notable for its celebration of African American culture, its use of jazz and blues rhythms, and its exploration of themes such as race, identity, and social justice.

Examples of Style in Pop Culture


"Pulp Fiction" by Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino's unique style blends dark humor, non-linear storytelling, and pop culture references. He uses memorable dialogues and sharp wit to create an engaging experience for the viewer.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" by Wes Anderson

Anderson is known for his quirky, colorful, and symmetric visuals. His distinctive style is evident in his films which often feature eccentric characters, subtle humor, and elaborate set designs.
"The Dark Knight" by Christopher Nolan

Nolan's films are known for their complex, thought-provoking narratives and meticulous attention to detail. "The Dark Knight" showcases his distinctive style through its gripping storyline, realistic approach, and unforgettable performances.
"Inception" by Christopher Nolan

Another example of Nolan's distinctive filmmaking, "Inception" merges mind-bending concepts and intricate visuals, showcasing his ability to create immersive experiences for the audience.
"La La Land" by Damien Chazelle

Chazelle's vibrant, romantic, and nostalgic style is fully realized in "La La Land." He beautifully combines music, dance, and emotions to pay homage to classic Hollywood movies.

Television Shows

"Breaking Bad" by Vince Gilligan

Gilligan's gritty, morally complex storytelling is a fundamental part of "Breaking Bad." The show is known for its excellent character development, innovative cinematography, and attention to detail.
"Game of Thrones" by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Based on George R.R. Martin's novels, the showrunners successfully adapt a unique storytelling style, with multiple interconnected plotlines, intricate character arcs, and breathtaking visuals.
"Sherlock" by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss

This modern adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic works showcases its creators' unique style featuring quirky humor, innovative storytelling techniques, and compelling character development.
"Stranger Things" by Matt and Ross Duffer

The Duffer Brothers expertly blend 1980s nostalgia, sci-fi, and horror in "Stranger Things." Their distinct storytelling style results in a captivating, suspenseful, and emotionally engaging series.
"The Office" by Greg Daniels

Daniels' adaptation of the British comedy series is known for its mockumentary-style format, deadpan humor, and relatable characters. The show's distinctive style has made it a beloved sitcom for many viewers.

Impacts of Style on Literature

Reader Engagement

Style in literature impacts reader engagement by influencing the ease and interest with which a reader can absorb the text. For example, a highly descriptive style might captivate readers who enjoy rich world-building, while a simpler, more concise style might attract those who prefer fast-paced plots.

Interpretation of Text

Literary style affects how readers interpret the text by shaping the language’s subtleties and nuances. As authors employ various stylistic techniques like symbolism or intentional ambiguity, they can influence readers to draw different conclusions about the text’s deeper meanings.

Mood and Atmosphere

An author’s style can create mood and atmosphere in a story. For instance, a Gothic horror story’s dark, foreboding atmosphere is achieved through detailed descriptions and suspenseful pacing, while a lighthearted comedy may use witty banter and self-aware narration to set a more jovial tone.

Character Development

The way an author writes dialogue and narrative also plays a crucial role in character development. A writer may use a character’s diction, speech patterns, and word choice to reveal personality traits, social status, or cultural background, giving the reader insight into who the character is and why they behave the way they do.

Theme Highlighting

Stylistic choices can also highlight themes in a text. The author’s use of motifs, imagery, and symbols allows them to emphasize certain ideas and explore complex subjects in a nuanced manner. By skillfully weaving these elements throughout the narrative, a writer can convey a deeper message to the reader.

Narrative Pace and Tension

The pacing of a story and the tension it creates are directly influenced by an author’s literary style. Lengthy sentences, intricate descriptions, and a slower pace can evoke a sense of contemplation, whereas short, punchy sentences, dialogue, and rapid scene changes can heighten action and suspense.


A unique and well-executed style can make a story more memorable. Distinctive prose, whether lyrical or minimalist, can linger in the reader’s mind long after they have finished the book, setting it apart from more formulaic writing.

Reader Perception of the Author

Style shapes the reader’s perception of the author, allowing them to form an image of the writer’s personality, values, and artistic sensibilities. A strong, consistent, and engaging style can also contribute to an author’s reputation, helping to establish their voice and distinctiveness within the literary world.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify an author’s style?

To identify an author’s style, consider the language they use, the way they structure their sentences, and the mood and tone they create. Look for recurring patterns or choices that can be attributed to their particular voice.

Reading multiple works by the same author and comparing them to other authors’ styles can also help you better recognize and understand an author’s unique style.

How does style affect the interpretation of a text?

The choice of style can greatly affect a reader’s interpretation of a text. It can emphasize certain themes, shape the reader’s understanding of characters and settings, and evoke specific emotional responses.

Can an author’s style change over time?

Absolutely! Just as people change over time, so too can an author’s style. This can be due to changes in the author’s life, their growth as a writer, or their desire to experiment with new techniques and genres.


The concept of ‘style’ in literature transcends merely the arrangement of words and sentences. It’s the author’s unique voice, a potent tool that captivates readers, shapes interpretation, and elevates the narrative. Whether subtle or pronounced, a writer’s style significantly contributes to the reading experience, offering not just a lens into their world of imagination but also reflecting their artistic individuality.

As we continue to explore and appreciate the vast realm of literature, let’s not forget to pay homage to the power and beauty of ‘style’ – the invisible thread that weaves together the tapestry of a literary masterpiece.

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Aerielle Ezra is an enthusiastic student of architecture who has a wide range of interests, including psychology, lifestyle, and relationships. Apart from her studies, she also likes to engage in athletic activities, particularly volleyball. When she is not playing, she spends her free time watching her preferred sitcoms or reading her favorite books, which include fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.