What Is Style? Diction Figures of Speech Sentence Patterns Review Tone Mood Practice Evaluating Style Feature Menu
Style is a writer’s distinctive way of using language. Style can take many forms. [End of Section] Formal/InformalPlain/OrnateComical/Serious What Is Style?
Diction, or word choice, is one of the main elements of style. Long, elegant wordsShort, everyday words vivaciouslively nonplussedat a loss pandemoniumchaos Formal wordsInformal words I kindly accept your invitation.I’ll be there. in a difficult situationin a jam was indisposedfelt under the weather Diction [End of Section]
Figurative languageLiteral language He felt as trapped as a cat in a vet’s office. He felt completely trapped. Her fingers were hummingbirds’ wings brushing over the piano keys. She played the piano with a light, quick touch. My brother looked as if he’d suddenly awakened to find himself on Mars. My brother looked utterly confused. Whether a writer prefers to use figurative or literal language also affects style. Figures of Speech [End of Section]
Sentence variation—the ways writers construct sentences—also help create style. Short, punchy sentencesLong, complex sentences “Tom was tugging at a button and looking sheepish. He blushed, now, and his eyes fell.” from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain “Children can feel, but they cannot analyse their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in thought, they know not how to express the result of the process in words.” from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë Sentence Variation [End of Section]
Review Compare the style of these two excerpts. Which is more formal? [End of Section] When I think of the hometown of my youth, all that I seem to remember is dust—the brown, crumbly dust of late summer—arid, sterile dust that gets into the eyes and makes them water, gets into the throat and between the toes of bare brown feet. from “Marigolds” by Eugenia W. Collier It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born, that the ibis lit in the bleeding tree. The flower garden was stained with rotting brown magnolia petals, and ironweeds grew rank amid the purple phlox. from “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst
tumbled joyfully rolled around noisily OR majestic sweep of dunes OR empty waste of sand Plot, theme, and tone Tone Tone is a writer’s attitude toward a subject, a character, or the audience. Writers convey tone through their choice of words.
You might find the following words helpful in describing tone: Words for Tone admiring affectionate bitter comic forgiving mocking sarcastic serious vengeful Tone
Listen to this passage from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. What is the writer’s tone? What words help create the tone? “She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.” from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Tone [End of Section]
Plot, Theme, and Tone The plot and theme, or central idea, of a story also may reveal tone. PlotTheme A man rebuilds his life after a terrible accident. Adversity can be overcome. Tone admiring, optimistic Tone
diction Mood is the feeling a story evokes. Writers create mood through figures of speech tender blooms in soft light stalks etched starkly against an orange sky Mood rolling hills draped by a shroud of fog
You might find the following words helpful in describing mood: Words for Mood eerie gloomy joyful mysterious peaceful sad Mood
What is the mood of the passage? What words and images help create the mood? Mood Quick Check I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed.... high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances: and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring. from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain [End of Section]
I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed.... high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances: and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring. from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain Peaceful, awe-inspiring, majestic Mood Quick Check What is the mood of the passage? What words and images help create the mood?
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