menu

Instructions for Analyzing the Writer's Style in a Short Story


A writer's style is one of the various literary techniques and choices that he or she uses to create his short story. In order to analyze the writer’s style in a short story, the reader should consider his choice of diction, sentence style and paragraph style. Identifying these elements and how they work together will in turn allow the reader to analyze the story’s other elements like plot, characters, point of view, setting and theme.

Choice of Diction

In analyzing fiction, the first thing that the reader should consider is the writer's use of diction. Diction refers to the words that the writer chooses to use in his or her writing. For example, a story about an inner-city teenager may include profanity or vulgarity. This type of diction might be used in order to create a sense of realism by capturing how a specific character might actually talk and interact with other people. To produce a very different effect, the same kind of story may also be told using formal language that would reflect a more distanced, or omniscient perspective.

Effects of Diction

When analyzing diction, the reader should consider the effect of a writer’s choice of words. A story that relies on formal language may do so to establish a kind of separation between the narrator and the chacters. The writer may not be concerned with relaying realism and authenticity, but may instead want to clearly present a message about life in the inner city using methods such as third person omniscient point of view. Other types of diction that the writer may use and that the reader should consider in analyzing his or her style are obscenities, contractions, conversational and colloquial language, and formal, educated and informal language choices.

Sentence Style

When analyzing the sentence style of a short story, the reader should look at the length and style of each sentence. Writers may use sentences varying syntax and different lengths. There are a variety of different sentence structures, including fragments, simple, compound, periodic and cumulative sentences, as well as sentences that present items in a series. Just as with diction, a writer's decision to use different sentence styles depends on the type of effect that he or she wants to create. For example, a writer writing in the first person might use a number of sentence fragments to relay the character’s thoughts in order to convey the character’s thinking process.

Paragraph Style

When analyzing the style of a short story, the reader should look at paragraph length in addition to sentence structure. Some paragraphs may be short, a sentence in length, and some may be long, stretching a page or more. In analyzing the paragraph style, the reader should look at any shifts in time or place and changes in action or point of view. The point of view may shift from one paragraph to the next, from one character to the next, and sometimes the story may shift in time, moving from present tense to future tense or from past tense to present tense.

About the Author

Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.

Photo Credits
  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images