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Nonfiction Analysis Help

Click here for a PPT about tone/audience/purpose

Click here for some tone/audience/purpose exercises

Click here to view a video about Columbine High School


Just as each of us has a particular, unique way of presenting ourselves, writers have unique ways of presenting themselves. Our personalities shine through the way we talk, the words we choose, the gestures we use, the clothes we wear. A writer has only language to express his/her personality. The qualities below are the basic elements of a writer’s style. Pick them out and add them up to figure out theme and attitude.


What words does the author choose? Consider his/her word choice compared to another. Why did the author choose that particular word? What are the connotations of that word choice?

ex. Author 1: Bill was unintelligent. (relatively neutral, as far as lack of intelligence goes)
unintelligent-  (relatively neutral, as far as lack of intelligence goes)

ex. Author 2: Bill was a zipperhead. (less of a low IQ, more like someone who acts like an idiot)
zipperhead-  (less of a low IQ, more like someone who acts like an idiot)

For more help with diction click here.


What images does the author use? What does he/she focus on in a sensory way? The kinds of images the author puts in or leaves out reflect his/her style? Are they vibrant? Prominent? Plain? NOTE: Images differ from detail in the degree to which they appeal to the senses.

For more help with imagery click here.


What details are does the author choose to include? What do they imply? What does the author choose to exclude? What are the connotations of their choice of details? PLEASE NOTE: Details are facts or fact-lets. They differ from images in that they don’t have a strong sensory appeal.

ex. An author describing a battlefield might include details about the stench of rotting bodies or he might not.


What is the overall impression of the language the author uses? Does it reflect education? A particular profession? Intelligence? Is it plain? Ornate? Simple? Clear? Figurative? Poetic?

For more help with language click here.

Syntax (or Sentence Structure)

What are the sentences like? Are they simple with one or two clauses? Do they have multiple phrases? Are they choppy? Flowing? Sinuous like a snake? Is there antithesis, chiasmus, parallel construction? What emotional impression do they leave? If we are talking about poetry, what is the meter? Is there a rhyme scheme?

For more help with syntax click here.

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