Distinguishing Between Expository & Narrative Writing

Expository writing and narrative writing are two styles that often confuse students because of their similarities. However, there are subtle differences between the two styles, which will be highlighted in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Narrative writing is a style of writing that can be called storytelling while expository writing is descriptive in nature.
  • Expository writing is factual and contains a lot of details in the form of facts, while narrative writing contains figures of speech and is more flowing than expository.
  • The content is organized in expository writing, while it can be without chronology in narrative writing. Narrative can be both fact and fiction, whereas expository writing is mostly factual.


Expository writing, as the name implies, is meant for description. The purpose of this style is to provide as much information as possible. If a piece of writing contains a lot of facts to help explain a concept, it is likely expository in nature. This style is to the point and avoids fluff or filler content. A piece of writing in expository style appears to be organized and meaningful, with the writer avoiding abstract language and striving to be as concrete as possible.


Narrative writing is primarily used to tell stories. Novels are the best examples of narrative writing, though poems and essays can also be written in this mode. Events and people affected by these events are described in detail using this style to engage the readers. Historical pieces describing the same event or personality can be narrative in nature and may appear different depending on the author’s point of view. Thus, it is not always fiction that is written in narrative style, as even autobiographies can be written using this mode.

The writing style can be much more flexible in narrative writing, with the author able to use abstract language when desired to evoke emotional feelings in the readers. Though narrative writing is also chronological, the author can choose to go back in time or switch between characters to move the readers.

Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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