Style (Author's Craft for Literary Analysis)

Aspects to consider when analyzing the style of an author for a literary text:

  • Point of view/narration of the story (first person, second person, third person limited, third person omniscient, stream of consciousness, detached narrator, observing vs engaging, objective vs. biased, unreliable vs reliable)

  • Structure (flashbacks, flash-forwards)

  • Characterization (dynamic vs static character, internal conflicts)

  • Plot (initial incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution)

  • Setting (mood/atmosphere created, historical context, etc.)

  • Word choice (concrete, abstract, connotative, denotative, descriptive, vivid, etc.)

  • Elements of literature (symbolism, dramatic irony, visual imagery, etc.)

  • Tone (attitude is conveyed by the characters)

  • Theme (universal insight conveyed about human nature)

An author's style can relate to both LITERARY TEXTS and NON-LITERARY TEXTS.

Literary Texts: The author's style is the way in which an author uses language (word choice, sentence structure, figurative language, literary devices, types of imagery, tone, characterization, setting, etc.) in order to develop themes. Literary texts can include poetry, short stories, novels, personal narratives, memoirs, and drama.

Guiding Questions

  • How does the author's language contribute to the portrayal of conflicts in the text?

  • How does the use of figurative language and visual imagery contribute to the themes of the text?

  • How does the narrator's perspective influence the reader's interpretation of the events?

  • How does the setting play a significant role in the themes and conflicts in the story?

  • How does the author develop a dynamic character in this scene?

See guidance for literary texts at

  • Characterization

    • Authors will develop characters in different ways through....

      • Indirect characterization: Indirect characterization reveals the personality of the character.

        • Dialogue

        • Thoughts

        • Effect on others

        • Actions

        • Appearance

  • Direct characterization: direct characterization is what it sounds like: the narrator telling the reader an opinion about a character in the narration of the story, such as "He was an unruly, boisterous boy who had no regard for manners."

  • A character arc is the transformation that a character experiences throughout a narrative. A character may begin with a certain viewpoint, but through challenges and conflicts, their viewpoint changes him/her. Characters undergo emotional or psychological growth leading to a transformation as a dynamic character.

  • The character's conflict, either internal or external, is what drives tension in the story. By characters having certain weaknesses that they have to overcome, authors are able to use these shortcomings as a roadblock or obstacle to overcome. Stories can end tragically when the character goes from a high position to a low position, or stories can end positively with a character starting in a lower position and elevating his social standing or success in some way.

    • Types of Conflict


    • Person vs. Himself/Herself


    • Person vs. Fate/God

    • Person vs. Person

    • Person vs. Nature

    • Person vs. Society/Institution

    • Person vs. Science/Technology

    • Person vs. Supernatural

How do your authors or creators make a compelling narrative or lyrics or message?

  • Incorporating unanticipated or contrasting events/ideas

    • Irony (plot twist)

    • Juxtaposition one scene with another that greatly contrasts one another

    • Use a non-linear plot, putting together the puzzle vs chronological order

  • Including universal themes

    • Readers may not be able to relate to the specific context of the conflict, but there are usually some themes that resonate on a universal level e.g. coming of age, loss, birth, transformation, perseverance, romance, etc.

  • Using vivid, descriptive imagery

    • How does the creator/writer provide imagery to create mental or physical pictures of a scene?

      • Visual Imagery: Something seen in the mind’s eye

      • Auditory Imagery: language that represents a sound or sounds

      • Olfactory Imagery: language representing the sense of smell

      • Gustatory Imagery: a taste

      • Tactile Imagery: touch, for example, hardness, softness, wetness, heat, cold

      • Organic Imagery: internal sensation: hunger, thirst, fatigue, fear

      • Kinesthetic Imagery: movement or tension

  • Evoking emotion and empathizing with characters

    • A memorable narrative is one that moves us emotionally in some way. How does the creator/writer evoke emotion in the reader or viewer?

The way an author develops a story impacts the way the reader understands the plot, conflicts, and characters. The plot structure is how the author or creator structures the sequences of events e.g. scenes or chapters.

1. exposition - the beginning of the story that gives background information on characters and previous action

2. dramatic incitement-- a scene or event that starts the action and triggers later conflict; part of the dramatic piece in which an act of urging or rousing to action occurs. Starts part for the major action in the drama.

3. rising action- the beginning of the action that will lead to a high point in the story; complications occur (an intensification of the conflict in a story or play. Complication builds up, accumulates, and develops the primary or central conflict in a literary work.

4. climax- the turning point of the story; the part of the story in which the protagonist reaches an emotional high point or a peak in power; crisis occurs, a condition that leads to a decisive change.

5. falling action- the action that occurs after the climax, before everything is wrapped up in the story

6. denouement/resolution -- The action in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and things are resolved or explained.

Style (Non- Literary Analysis, Textual Analysis)

Non-literary Texts: The author's style is the way in which an author or creator uses language and visuals to develop a message based on the purpose, audience, nature of the medium, disposition of the author, appeals, types of evidence, organizational patterns, and rhetorical tropes (see below). Non-literary texts can include editorials, online articles, blogs, advertisements, film, photography, art, speeches, interviews, etc. See for more information on text types.

Guiding Questions

  • How is the piece ordered e.g. compare/contrast, cause/effect, problem/solution, analogies, narrative, description, etc?

  • What rhetorical tropes and schemes are used such as extended metaphor, hyperbole, anecdotes, examples, antithesis, anaphora, litotes, analogy, symbolism, irony, paradox, rhetorical questions, etc?

  • How would you describe the word choice and its effect to convey the message?

  • Is there a clear bias or attitude conveyed in the author's disposition?

Other links to check out


Author's Disposition:

Literary Terms:

Types of Evidence

  1. Analogical Evidence

    1. How does the author compare two things that are similar in order to show the reader parallels and make a point to support his/her argument? What is persuasive or enlightening about using analogies to support an argument?

    2. How can the use of an analogy draw an insightful connection between a well known phenomenon to a less known phenomenon?

  2. Anecdotal Evidence

    1. How does the author use anecdotes to tell a story in order to prove a point?

    2. How does the author’s storytelling of anecdotes coupled with statistical or testimonial effective help build an argument?

  3. Observations

    1. How does the author use his or her own observations to form conclusions and support his/her argument?

  4. Statistics

    1. How does the author use numbers and percentages from verified sources to support his claim using reasoning? How do these statistics lend credibility to his/her argument?

    2. Are the statistics being dramatized or manipulated for a specific effect?

    3. How valid are the statistics in supporting the argument?

  5. Quotes or Testimonials

    1. How does the author use quotes from leading experts and authorities in order to support his/her position?

  6. Facts

    1. Are there facts that can't be disputed and can be accepted as true? How do these facts help support the argument?

Organizational Strategies

When analyzing an author’s style for a non-literary text such as an editorial, determine what organizational patterns he or she uses:

  • Exemplification: specific examples, brief

  • Illustration: examples in more detail

  • Description: concrete, sensory diction

  • Narration: use of stories e.g. anecdotes

  • Cause/effect: clear reason/result

  • Compare/contrast: similarities/differences

  • Process: how to do something...

  • Problem/Solution: describes a problem and its implications and then provides a solution

  • Classification: how something is classified e.g. science

  • Extended definition: how to define an abstract concept e.g. patriotism, democracy, love, faith, etc.

Rhetorical tropes

    • How do rhetorical tropes and schemes affect how the text is read?

RHETORICAL TROPES (& literary devices)


(historical, literary, pop cultural metaphorical reference)



Rhetorical question

(asking ? for effect)


(adjectives or nouns to used to describe another noun- accentuates a dominant characteristic for effect)


(softer word instead of a harsh one)


(understatement, form of irony)


(exaggeration, form of irony)


(situation is not expected. Verbal irony occurs when someone says something that is exaggerated or understated for an effect)


(contrasting ideas next to each other)


(direct/implied comparison between two things)


(A pastiche imitate the author’s style in a respectful way by changing an aspect of the story: point of view, ending, change protagonist from male to female, setting, etc. You also could imitate the author’s style and language with a new topic.)


(an imitation of the style of a writer or artist with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect or ridicule)


(metaphor giving human qualities to nonhuman entity)


(using negative constructions to emphasize a point)


(recurring element which contributes to theme/purpose)


(story in which people, events, or things often have symbolic meanings)


(something that seems contradictory but is actually true)


Parenthetical Asides (authorial intrusion)

Author interjects with her/his opinions to add humor or ridicule with dashes or with parenthesis


(words, sounds, or ideas used more than once to enhance the rhythm, or create emphasis)


(similar constructions help audience to compare/contrast parallel subjects or to emphasize a point. Writers will use similar phrases and clauses to balance a sentence)


(two opposing ideas presented in a parallel manner; the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas through syntax EX “She is my happiness!—she is my torture, none the less!”)


(the regular repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases or clauses e.g. “We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds….”)

Word Choice


  1. FORMAL: elevated, learned, pretentious, ornate, flowery, archaic, scholarly, pedantic, elegant, dignified, impersonal, elaborate, sophisticated, formal, cultured, poetic, abstract, esoteric (hard to understand), colorful, eloquent, euphonious

  2. INFORMAL: candid, detached, plain, simple, straightforward, informal, conversational, concrete

  3. COLLOQUIAL: abrupt, terse, laconic, simple, rustic, vulgar, slang, jargon, dialect, simple


  1. Denotative language: authentic, actual, apparent, literal, journalistic, straightforward, concrete, precise

  2. Connotative language: poetic, lyrical, symbolic, metaphoric, sensuous, grotesque, picturesque, abstract, whimsical, euphemistic, figurative, obscure, allegorical, suggestive, idyllic, emotive

Do you need help in showing how the language shapes meaning with the diction, tone, and imagery? See this link.

Sentence Starters for Literary Analysis


  • The protagonist undergoes challenges in his character when faced with the antagonist when ____.

  • The protagonist is a multidimensional character in that he/she reveals ______ and _______ about his past.

  • The minor character is a flat character with only one or two main traits; while he doesn't experience any changes in the narrative, he serves as a foil to ______ in order to develop _____.

  • ______ is a foil to _____ in that she calls attention to the characteristics of ______'s personality and beliefs.

  • The author relies on direct characterization to establish _________ at the beginning.

  • The character's speech provides indirect characterization for the reader to infer that ______.

  • The internal thoughts of the characters allows the reader to infer that ________.

  • The character's actions reveals his beliefs and values in that _______.

  • The impact of the protagonist on other characters reveals that ______.

  • The description of the character is significant in helping the reader understand _____.

  • ________'s journey of self discovery can be seen when ______.

  • While the character comes off as flat or static, the character highlights another character's growth in that ____.

  • The author portrays the character as dynamic when he/she undergoes ____ and learns ______.

  • The character's motivation to act is based on ____ which is evident when he ______.

  • The author portrays this character as ______ in how _______.

  • The character struggled with internal turmoil when _____.

  • The character experiences the most growth when _______.

  • The author relies on minor characters to highlight the struggles of the protagonist. For example, ...


  • The setting is significant in advancing the conflicts in the plot by ______.

  • The setting is symbolic to the story in that _______.

  • The historical context is significant to the plot's conficts and themes in that _____.

  • The author develops a ________ mood in this scene in order to develop or foreshadow _______.


  • The author's non-linear plot challenges the reader to ______.

  • The use of flashbacks/foreshadowing/flashforwards serve to ___________.

  • The initial incident that propels the plot forward occurs when ________.

  • The action in this chapter leads to the climax in that ______.

  • The turning point in the novel is when the protagonist must make a decision to _________, leading to ______.

  • The shift in time in the narrative allows for _______.

  • The alternative perspectives impacts the reading of the story in that ________.

Word Choice

  • The author uses both concrete and abstract language in developing _______.

  • The overly-idealized or romanticized narration serves to _______.

  • The colloquial language of the characters portrays them as _______.

  • The blend of both connotative and denotative language in this scene serves to depict ____ as _____.

  • The language is more impressionistic than detailed in that _____.

  • The author uses exaggerated language in order to highlight ________ in the narrative.

  • The descriptive and vivid language serve to illustrate ____.

  • The understated and plain language serves to illustrate ____ and show that ____.

  • The often paradoxical language reveals that ____.

  • The language is often humorous and exaggerated in order to show ____.

Elements of Literature

  • The use of the recurring motif of _____ services to develop the idea of ______.

  • The symbol of ______ enhances the characterization and conflicts in the story by ______.

  • The satirical nature of the language provides social commentary on _______ in that _______.

  • The kinesthetic and organic imagery enhances the conflict in this scene by _____.

  • The gustatory and olfactory imagery in this chapter serves to ________.

  • The metaphor of ______ is significant in that _____.

  • The allusion to _____ highlights ______ in order to _____.

  • The allegorical nature of the characters is representative of a more universal meaning in that ___.

  • The use of personification helps develop the theme of ________.

  • The hyperbolic language is used for the effect of ______ in communicating _____.

  • The use of dramatic irony increases the tension in that ____.

  • The situational irony provides a twist for the reader in that ______.

  • The use of verbal irony provides humor in that _____.

Point of View

  • The first person narration provides a ________ perspective about the character in how he/she ______.

  • The third person limited point of view impacts the reading of the text in that ______.

  • The third person omniscient point of view effectively conveys _____ in order to ______.

  • The use of second person is used in order to _________.

  • The stream of consciousness style of narration impacts the reading of the text in that ______.

  • Having multiple narrators impacts the reader's experience in that ____.

  • The biased narrator influences the understanding of the text in that _____.

  • The unbiased narrator influences the understanding of the text in that _____.

  • The unreliable narrator influences the reader in that _________.


  • The progression of ideas in this chapter contributes the development of the theme that ________.

  • The author highlights that people often ____________ when confronted with _____________ (theme).

  • The author reveals that people might _______________ when challenged with _____________ (theme)


The tone of an author or narrator is the attitude that is conveyed about the subject that is being described. Consider the words the author uses to evoke a reaction out of a reader or how you think he or she feels about the subject. Look for tone shifts throughout the work to see how the language of the writer shapes meaning.

  • The author describes ____ with a ____ tone in order to show _____.

  • The author's tone shifts from ____ to ____ when discussing _____.

  • The author conveys the attitude of the character as _______ in this scene when ____.

  • The narrator's attitude becomes _______ when ____.

  • The narrator shifts the tone in this scene from ______ to ______ in order to show _____.

How does the author convey his attitude in the work through his language? Are there significant tone shifts, and how do they contribute to the main ideas?

negative tones: melancholy, caustic, irate, satiric, critical, indignant, bitter, condescending, judgmental

positive tones: reverent, light hearted, optimistic, hopeful, loving, jovial

neutral tones:reminiscent wistful, apathetic, speculative, meditative, objective, reflective

Consider some of the TONE WORD LISTS online for ideas:

What is BIAS?

Bias means showing a preference for one thing over another. When it comes to our news sources, the information should be bias-free in an ideal world; however, in reality, we know that practically every media source carries some sort of bias.

Bias in the media can occur through:

  • Selection & Omission--choosing to tell only parts of the story

  • Placement-- where the story appears in the newspaper or during news hour or on a website

  • Headlines-- often crafted to catch attention and sell papers rather than report facts

  • Word Choice and Tone--using sensational and emotional words to dramatize the events

  • Photos/Captions/Camera Angles --making one person look good and another bad, for example

  • Names & Titles --calling a person a “bad guy” instead of by his name, for example

  • Statistics & Crowd Counts--dramatizing numbers for effect

  • Source Control--using information or sources that only show or support one side of a story