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Style STYLE style
Defining Style in literature is the literary element that describes the ways that the author uses words — the author's word choice, sentence structure, figurative language, and sentence arrangement all work together to establish mood, images, and meaning in the text. Style describes how the author describes events, objects, and ideas. One easy way to understand literary style is to think about fashion styles. Clothes can be formal and dressy, informal and casual, preppy, athletic, and so forth. Literary style is like the clothes that a text puts on. By analogy, the information underneath is like the person's body, and the specific words, structures, and arrangements that are used are like the clothes. Just as we can dress one person in several different fashions, we can dress a single message in several different literary styles
changing styles: Original- regional dialect "No sich uh thing!" Tea Cake retorted. (Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God) Informal "Nothing like that ever happened, " Tea Cake replied. Formal "With great fortune, that happenstance did not become a reality, " Tea Cake stated. Archaic, after Nathaniel Hawthorne "Verily, it was a circumstance, to be noted, that appeared not to so much have been a reality as to have evolved as a thing that had not yet come to be, " Tea Cake impelled.
ELEMENTS of style: humor sentence structure diction figurative/literal language dialogue paragraph use chapter structure allusions How is the humor achieved? length and variation of sentences, fragments or runons? subordinate clauses? Is there unusual punctuation? simple words? flowery? technical? colloquial? jargon? punning? obscure? is language mostly literal and full of imagery? or figurative? are there similes, metaphors, personification, etc? How much of the story is told through dialogue? Whole conversations or just fragments? Formal or slang? are paragraphs short? long? varied? clearly organized or random? Is the book divided into sections? chapters? How are these organized? How long? Are chapters/sections named? How often does the author refer to other texts, myths, historical events and figures, quotations?
humor - how writers create it! Understatement: When an author deliberately understates the obvious. Shakespeare uses understatement in Romeo and Juliet with one of his wittiest creations: In Act II, scene i, Mercutio describes his mortal wound “not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. ” More recent examples include Mark Twain’s famous “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated, ” and Richard Dreyfuss’ “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws. Hyperbole: The opposite of understatement, a writer uses hyperbole to exaggerate his or her point to create humor. From an American folktale about Babe, the Blue Ox: “Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before. ”
Comic Irony: A writer creates comic irony by stating one thing while meaning another. It is an application of verbal irony used with humorous intent. In his speech “Advice to Youth” Twain mocks standard wisdom: “If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ” Satire: Writers use ridicule to point out human folly. From The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “There warn’t anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn’t any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time because it’s cool. If you notice, most folks don’t go to church only when they’ve got to; but a hog is different. ”
Diction: the writer’s selection of words Denotation: dictionary definition of a word Connotation: emotional associations with a word Plump Fat Chubby Obese These words have roughly the same denotation, but different connotations. Rank the words from least to most negative.
diction creates a tone elated aggressive tone: the narrator’s or the author’s attitude toward the subject material and/or the reader romantic depressed confident condescending playful paranoid excited confused
Partner Work: Rewrite the following paragraph about deserts with a frightened tone. Deserts make up a fifth of the Earth’s land surface. Light brown and bright gold sand shifts with the winds, forming graceful eddies and patterns across the landscape. Cacti wait ready to bloom at the first sign of rain. Seeds lie ready in the ground; roots wait to send up shoots with the possibility of rain. Snakes and lizards bask in the sun or find cover under rocks in the heat of the day. The sun warms the desert by day. The nights are cool and offer respite from the day’s heat. With little or no water, desert animals find moisture hiding in the plants. How did you and your partner change the paragraph to have a more frightening tone?
Most Common Biblical Allusions in Literature (according to shareranks. com) 1. Jesus Christ Armageddon 2. David and Goliath the Ark 3. The Prodigal Son 4. Cain and Abel Daniel and the 5. Jonah and the Whale 7. 8. Noah and 9. Lazarus 10. Lion’s Den
Common mythological allusions Pandora’s box Prometheus Sisyphus Achille’s heel Herculean cupid
Sentence Structure & Syntax syntax - the way in which words are put together to form phrases, clauses, or sentences Length of sentences: long, short, varied? “That night I sat on Tyan-yu’s bed and waited for him to touch me. But he didn’t. I was relieved. ” [Amy Tan in Joy Luck Club] “They left me alone and I lay in bed and read the papers awhile, the news from the front, and the list of dead officers with their decorations and then reached down and brought up the bottle of Cinzano and held it straight up on my stomach, the cool glass against my stomach, and took little drinks making rings on my stomach from holding the bottle there between drinks, and watched it get dark outside over the roofs of the town. ” [Ernest Hemingway in Farewell to Arms]
Sentence types: declaratives? questions? complex? simple? run-ons or fragments? Sentence beginnings: all start with dependent clauses? vary? Punctuation: use of colons or semicolons? Other: anything noticeable about the sentence structures? All of these syntactical elements are part of the writer’s style and can affect the mood and tone of the story.
Part of a writer’s style: DIALOGUE In literature, dialogue is simply a stylized written or spoken exchange between two or more people. A writer's use of dialogue dates back to classical literature, namely Plato's Republic and other such works. Plato and other philosophers largely used the dialogic method for argument and rhetorical purposes. In modern literature, we use dialogue to color a character's personality, create conflict, advance a plot, showcase vernacular (the language or dialect spoken by the native people of a region), and so on.
DIALOGUE EXAMPLE #1 from Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” . . . 'I realize, ' the girl said. 'Can't we maybe stop talking? ' They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table. 'You've got to realize, ' he said, 'that I don't want you to do it if you don't want to. I'm perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you. ' 'Doesn't it mean anything to you? We could get along. ' 'Of course it does. But I don't want anybody but you. I don't want anyone else. And I know it's perfectly simple. ' 'Yes, you know it's perfectly simple. ' 'It's all right for you to say that, but I do know it. ' 'Would you do something for me now? ' 'I'd do anything for you. ' 'Would you please please Stop talking. ' What do you notice about this dialogue? What is the effect?
Dialogue Example #2 - from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men 'I forgot, ' Lennie said softly. 'I tried not to forget. Honest to God I did, George. ' 'O. K. —O. K. I’ll tell ya again. I ain’t got nothing to do. Might jus’ as well spen’ all my time tell’n you things and then you forget ‘em, and I tell you again. ' 'Tried and tried, ' said Lennie, 'but it didn’t do no good. I remember about the rabbits, George. ' 'The hell with the rabbits. That’s all you ever can remember is them rabbits. O. K. ! Now you listen and this time you got to remember so we don’t get in no trouble. You remember settin’ in that gutter on Howard street and watchin’ that blackboard? ' Lennies’s face broke into a delighted smile. 'Why sure, George, I remember that…but…what’d we do then? I remember some girls come by and you says…you say…' 'The hell with what I says. You remember about us goin’ into Murray and Ready’s, and they give us work cards and bus tickets? ' 'Oh, sure, George, I remember that now. ' His hands went quickly into his side coat pockets. He said gently, 'George…I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it. ' He looked down at the ground in despair. 'You never had none, you crazy bastard. I got both of ‘em here. Think I’d let you carry your own work card? ' Lennie grinned with relief How is this dialogue different than the previous example?
So, let’s analyze some writing styles. Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Text #1: Carroll Text #2: “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe Text #3: Cell by Stephen King Directions: With your partner, read and compare the writing styles in the three texts. Consider ❖ diction (word choice) ❖ sentence structure ❖ use of dialogue ❖ literal or figurative language ❖ punctuation ❖ allusions ❖ humor ❖ other noticeable elements Make a statement for each text explaining the writing style.