Writing’s writing, right?

Wrong.

Writing comes in a multitude of different forms and styles, each with its own rules and conventions. Take Adele’s recently released album, for example. An advert for this would look and feel completely different to an article about the album, which would be different again to a biography about Adele.

It all comes down to four inter-linked elements:

Genre

In very general terms, this means the type of text that you are writing. In fiction, this could be a thriller, or a picture book, or a short story. In non-fiction, this could be a report, or a memoir, or a speech. There are many different genres and sub-genres, and it is important to figure out which one applies to your writing, as this will give you general guidelines as to length, style and format.

Audience

Are you writing for teenagers? Or business people? Or a niche market of enthusiastic hamster breeders? You need to figure out who your audience is and tailor your writing accordingly – otherwise you won’t have an audience at all.

Purpose

It’s also important to work out what you are trying to achieve with each piece of writing. Are you trying to sell a product or service? Or push a point of view? Or simply to explain something. The purpose of the writing will dictate the level of emotion, detail and argument it contains.

Style

Finally, the writing style you use will depend largely on the other three elements. Take writing for teenagers, for example. An advice blog, covering serious subjects such as sexting or online bullying, is still likely to have an informal style, whereas a school textbook will be more formal. In the business sphere, blogs aimed at raising brand awareness in the general public will be less formal than articles written for professional journals.

Despite the differences, good writing, whatever form it takes, will always be coherent and engaging. It’s a transferable skill and if you write well in one form, you should have the skills to write well in another. It’s just a question of understanding, and applying, the rules of each genre.

So that’s why I am delighted to say that the Young Adult fantasy novel that I’ve been writing was recently shortlisted in the 2016 Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition. More exciting still, I’ve just been awarded a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust, which will help me develop my writing further.

It’s not strictly relevant to my copywriting business, but writing’s writing, right?

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