Help students create their writing style by analyzing the style of great authors.
Remember when you were in 7th grade and wore plaid pants with a striped shirt and everybody made fun of you? Remember two days later when the most popular kid in school wore the same thing and everybody thought he was cool?
It made no sense.
That's how students feel about style in writing. Clarify their confusion with these lesson ideas.
Key Aspects in Analyzing an Author's Style
Discuss the following concepts about writing style:
- Analyzing author's style involves understanding the particular way a piece is written.
Style in writing is not what is said but how it is said.
- Analyzing author's style involves analyzing the writer's unique way of communicating ideas.
- Styles in writing are created deliberately by the author to convey a specific mood or effect.
Key aspects in styles of writing include:
- sentence length, structure, variation, and position
the use of sensory details, figurative language, and other literary devices
the use of sound devices--alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhythm, repetition
- the use of dialogue
- word choice
- the use of local color
- the use of irony
Styles in Writing Lesson Ideas
Use the following lesson ideas to help students analyze various styles in writing:
Use a three column chart labeled Aspects of Style, Selection(s), and Example(s). For example, an analysis of Homer's style might include: 1) the use of stock epithets under aspects of style, The Odyssey for selections, and gray-eyed Athena under example. Instruct students to fill out the chart for a specific author.
- Write a style analysis using information from the chart.
- Write a style comparison of two different writers.
- In groups of three or four, choose one paragraph from a literary work, indicative of a particular author's style, and find at least 5 examples. Each member of the group should become a specialist on one aspect of the author's style. After 20 minutes, mix up the groups and have each expert discuss his or her findings (similar to a jigsaw activity).
- Play an audio recording of different literary selections, preferably those that demonstrate a distinct style--Hemingway, Steinbeck, Alice Walker, Bradbury, Poe, Hawthorne. Listening to an author helps students recognize rhythm and other stylistic devices.
Have student's imitate an author's style or rewrite a selection in a completely different style. For example, How would Of Mice and Men read if Herman Melville wrote it? Remind students to review key aspects of style before they begin.
- Bust out the dreadlock wig you wore to Jamaica or the ski boots you wore to Canada and discuss how culture affects style. Once you have their attention, read culturally distinctive authors--Alice Walker, Amy Tan, Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, for example.