As I mentioned in one of my earlier post, I came across the mention of “Style and Tone” while researching more information for my first novel. In today's post, I will be discussing the purpose of “Style” and it’s various components.
Style is a simple way of saying complicated things. - Jean Cocteau
Style is the technique used by an author when presenting their thoughts, and depends on their choice of words, sounds, logic and structures. It is reflected in the writer’s words, the tone they use, the way they build a sentence or how they describe a visual reference.
Every writer has their own style, as it adds significance and impact to their work. A unique literary style is important, because how a writer expresses themselves can be seen as the voice readers listen to while reading the story.
There are four basic writing styles.
This style is subject-oriented, to-the-point and factual. The focus of this type of style is to provide background information, to explain the sequence of events or to tell the readers about a specific subject or topic. It is important to note, Expository Writing is objective. The author leaves out their own opinion about that topic.
This style focuses on describing various story elements in detail. Descriptive Writing is often poetic in nature, embellishing the topic rather than simply outlining it. This is usually accomplished by creating vivid images using sensory details, therefore allowing the reader to better experience the writer's world.
As opposed to Expository Writing, Persuasive Writing is heavily subjective. In this style, the writer gives reasons, explanations, examples, statistics and justifications. The authors goal is to persuade and convince the readers, have them believe in their point of view. In order to be effective, Persuasive Writing must appeal to the audience's sense of logic, reason, and emotion.
This type of writing is normally used for fictional stories. Simply put, it is when a narrator retells the events or actions to the audience. Most common forms of Narrative Writing are short stories, novels, novellas, biographies and poetry.
There are various tools authors use to make their writing stand out. The following is a list of literary elements used to identify the type of style a writer is using.
- Vocabulary: The author may choose to use words either because they are simple or technical. They may use connotation (the associative or emotional meaning of a word) or denotation (the dictionary meaning of a word).
- Word Sound: The author may choose specific words because of their sound. This can be represented through Alliteration (repetition of initials) Consonance (the close repetition of consonant sounds), Assonance (repetition of similar vowel sounds), Dissonance ( the deliberate avoidance of patterns or repeated vowel sounds), Onomatopoeia (when a word sounds like what it represents) or Rhythm (flow or cadence).
- Expansive / Economical Diction: The author may decide to write in a tight and efficient manner, using as little words as possible, or choose to elaborate and give long-winded descriptions.
- Experimentation in Language: The author purposefully goes against the laws of literature. This can be achieved by unusual layout on the page, breaking rules of grammar and form, odd or unstable narrative perspectives, and so on.
- Sentence Structure: The author pays close attention to the form of there sentences. Short sentences best convey suspense, tension, and swift action, whereas Longer sentences work better for slower scenes, when explanations and descriptions are needed.
- Paragraph / Chapter Structure: The author pays controls the length of his paragraphs and chapters. Like sentences, the longer they are, the slower the action is. The length of a paragraph or chapter is usually is an indication of importance, as it shows that more information needed to be given to the audience.
- Pace: The author controls the speed at which the story flows. Keeping a steady pace requires the information given to the reader remain constant. If the writer wants to add atmosphere or tension, the writing will become heavily descriptive. If the writer wants the focus to be on face paced action, they will give less details to the audience.
- Time Sequencing / Chronology: This is how the author organizes the chronological order of events. Does the work’s structural “rhythm” flow continuously from beginning to end, or does the timeline jump, either with flashbacks, flashforwards, skipping large periods, and so on.
- Character Development: Style is also apparent in how the author introduces his characters. This can be seen in a variety of ways: through their visual appearance, descriptions of their behavior, what role they play or how they interact.
- Point of View: As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the Point of View dictates how the audience perceives the story. Therefore the author’s choice of PoV has a heavy impact on their style. Possibilities: first, second, third, omniscient, limited omniscient, multiple, inanimate, free indirect discourse.
- Use of Dialogue: Dialogue is words spoken in between characters. it affects the style in many way, as it can be used to control pace, express tone, reveal information on character development and so on.
- Figures of Speech: The author may use various figures of speech in their narration. Common tools are Metaphor (transferal of an idea associated with one word to another word), Simile ( comparisons using “like” and “as” and occasionally “than”), Symbol (word that operates on two levels of meaning, the literal and the figurative or suggestive), Personification (gives human qualities to inanimate objects, nonhuman organisms, or abstractions), Hyperbole (exaggeration) or Understatement (opposite of hyperbole).
- Tone: As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the tone reflects the mood of the story, therefore affecting the audiences perception. Tone represents the author's attitude towards a specific subject.
- Allusions: The author refers to something in our common understanding, our past or our literature. This can be anything from historical references to famous legends or popular books.
- Metafictional Techniques: The author specifically points out his own narration in the story, pointing out their use of various literary elements.
When beginning my research on “style in literature”, I had no idea of how many elements and components came into play. I hope this information will prove useful to some of you. This is definitely something which will require further practice on my part, as I feel my current “style” is pretty basic (or even non-existent).
Until next time,
(edited on 2016-04-13)