Style Guide handout

Style Guide
Style is:
 How an author writes
 What makes different authors’ writing distinctive
 How each individual author’s writing sounds
Elements of Style (with examples from “Living like Weasels” by Annie Dillard)
 Tone
• “A weasel is wild. Who knows what he thinks. He sleeps in his underground den, his tail
draped over his nose. Sometimes he lives in his den for two days without leaving. Outside,
he stalks rabbits, mice, muskrats and birds, killing more bodies than he can eat warm”
(Dillard par 1). Tone of awe/admiration.
 Figurative language
• Imagery
 “I was relaxed on the tree trunk, ensconced in the lap of lichen, watching lily pads at
my feet tremble and part dreamily over the thrusting path of a carp” (Dillard par 4)
• Simile/Metaphor
 “Our look was as if two lovers, or deadly enemies, met unexpectedly on an
overgrown path when each had been thinking of something else . . .” (Dillard Par 6)
• Other Figurative Language
 Diction – (Word Choice)
• Dialect
• Dialogue
• High/low level vocabulary
• Connotations
 “Obedient to instinct, he bites his prey at the neck, either splitting the jugular vein at
the throat or crunching the brain at the base of the skull, and he does not let go”
(Dillard par 1) – word choice shows how vicious the weasel can be while still using
academic vocabulary to elevate the subject.
 Sentence Structure (syntax)
• Simple Sentences
 “Weasel!” (Dillard par 5)
• Long Compound/complex sentences
 “It caught my eye; I swiveled around—and the next instant, inexplicably, I was
looking down at a weasel who was looking up at me” (Dillard par 4).
 Paragraph Structure
• Long flowing paragraphs
• Short Choppy paragraphs
 Purpose
• Entertain, explain or persuade
• What the author was trying to teach the reader (Theme)
 “I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one
necessity and not to let it go, to follow it limp wherever it takes you. Then even
death, where you’re going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it
seize you up aloft . . .” (Dillard par 12).
 Point of View
• 1st(I, me, we), 2nd (you, your), or 3rd (he, she, they) person narrator
• how the author puts themselves into the characters of a story – how they tell the story
 “I could live for two days in the den, curled leaning on mouse fur, sniffing bird
bones . . .” (Dillard par 10) - we see that it is written in first person and how the
author puts herself in the place of the weasel, as if she is the weasel for a moment.
 Voice
• The personality of the narrator or author who is telling the story
• Combination of Diction, figurative language, point of view, and author’s purpose
 “I could very calmly go wild. I could live for two days in the den, curled leaning on
mouse fur, sniffing bird bones, blinking, licking, breathing musk, my hair tangled in
the roots of grasses” (Dillard para 10). We can see the author’s thought process and
hear her admiration for the weasel
 Breakdown of quote:
 “calmly go wild” = admiration/diction/contrast,
 “curled, leaning on mouse fur” = imagery
 “I could” = point of view
 “go wild” = purpose and shows author’s personality
 Rhetorical Devices
 Certain devices an author uses to engage the audience.
 Contrast: “I could calmly go wild” (Dillard para 10) – the author contrasts going wild
with her own feelings of calm and introspection (thinking).
 Questioning: “What does a weasel think about?” (Dillard para 9). Questioning engages
the reader with the essay and makes the reader think.
 Point-of-View shifts: “We could, you know” (Dillard para 11) these shifts engage the
reader with the essay and makes the reader think.
 Repetition
 Incomplete sentences for dramatic effect.
 “Weasel!” (Dillard par 5)
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