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Grade 11 Tone.

Here's a list of words you could use to describe the tone of a passage:
(Remember tone can change throughout a passage.)

hurt romantic angry sardonic despondent appreciative paranoid aloof plaintive joyful playful pleading languid condescending cynical sincere disgusted facetious haughty soothing melancholy depressed nervous patronizing affectionate scornful ecstatic distant enthusiastic sympathetic emphatic ironic whimsical lackadaisical light-hearted

vibrant intense sad passive didactic disinterested earnest uninterested arrogant wistful elegiac manipulative persuasive happy contradictory dark disappointed aggravated dejected droll clandestine desperate excited proud superficial apathetic nonchalant encouraging calm contemplative

And here are a whole lot more animated ambivalent apathetic accusatory amused absurd aggressive acerbic angry abstruse assertive aggrieved arrogant awestruck admiring admiring assertive ardent acerbic befuddled benevolent bitter belligerent compliant cautionary condescending callous cynical colloquial comic confused critical compassionate complaining chatty complex cheerful contemptuous caustic cruel celebratory candid conciliatory 1

detached depressed disapproval docile evasive docile derisive dignified disparaging distressed disheartened diplomatic defiant dispassionate demeaning excited empathetic egotistical earnest farcical frustrated forceful formal frank fawning flippant gullible gentle hard hard-hearted hypercritical humble intense incensed imploring indignant intimate impressionable sulking inane irreverent impassioned informative incredulous indifferent impartial ironic jaded joyous laudatory loving malicious mocking modest macabre mourning mean-spirited naive nasty narcissistic nostalgic outspoken placating pompous pragmatic pretentious prayerful playful pathetic pessimistic pensive patronizing philosophical persuasive reflective resentful reverent resigned regretful righteous reticent reflective restrained sentimental satirical subjective self-pitying sensationalistic submissive scorning subjective solemn sorrowful tragic thoughtful tolerant unassuming unbiased uneasy virtuous vindictive What is tone exactly and how do you find it in stories? Detecting the tone of a story is similar to picking up on tone of voice. It's not what is being said or done it's a matter of how. According to the Literary Terms & Poetry Glossary, tone is "the manner in which an author expresses his or her attitude; the intonation of the voice that expresses meaning. Tone is described by adjectives, and the possibilities are nearly endless. Often a single adjective will not be enough, and tone may change from chapter to chapter or even line to line. Tone is the result of allusion, diction, figurative language, imagery, irony, symbol, syntax, style, and so on." Sounds overwhelming? One trick that may help you figure out the tone of the story that you're reading is to imagine a key scene from the story as a movie. What sort of music would be playing in the background? Do you imagine something dark and moody, light and peppy, somber and thoughtful? Music is a tool often used in movies to emphasize tone. As the definition above indicates, writers use words to set the tone. Take a look at the descriptions in your story. A story with a dark, ominous tone will probably have more negative descriptions than a light, happy comedy. A story with a suspenseful, adventurous tone will probably have lots of short sentences and brief, matter-of-fact descriptions. A sad, romantic story will often have long, detailed, sentimental descriptions. Try to visualize the scene and hear the characters voices as you read, and you'll be able to pick out the tone in no time. (Cue the triumphant music!) All pieces of literature, even official documents and technical documents, have some sort of tone. Authors create tone through the use of various other literary elements, such as diction or word choice; syntax, the grammatical arrangement of words in a text for effect; imagery, 2

or vivid appeals to the senses; details, facts that are included or omitted; and figurative language, the comparison of seemingly unrelated things for sub-textual purposes. While now used to discuss literature, the term tone was originally applied solely to music. This appropriated word has come to represent attitudes and feelings a speaker (in poetry), a narrator (in fiction), or an author (in non-literary prose) has towards the subject, situation, and/or the intended audience. It is important to recognize that the speaker, or narrator is not to be confused with the author and that attitudes and feelings of the speaker or narrator should not be confused with those of the author. In general, the tone of a piece only refers to attitude of the author if writing is non-literary in nature.[3] In many cases, the tone of a work may change and shift as the speaker or narrators perspective on a particular subject alters throughout the piece. Official and technical documentation tends to employ a formal tone throughout the piece. Authors set a tone in literature by conveying emotions/feelings through words. The way a person feels about an idea/concept, event, or another person can be quickly determined through facial expressions, gestures and in the tone of voice used. In literature an author sets the tone through words. The possible tones are bounded only by the number of possible emotions a human being can have. Diction and syntax often dictate what the author's (or character's) attitude toward his subject is at the time. An example: "Charlie surveyed the classroom but it was really his mother congratulating himself for snatching the higher test grade, the smug smirk on his face growing brighter and brighter as he confirmed the inferiority of his peers." The tone here is one of arrogance; the quip "inferiority of his peers" shows Charlie's belief in his own prowess. The words "surveyed" and "congratulating himself" show Charlie as seeing himself better than the rest of his class. The diction, including the word "snatching", gives the reader a mental picture of someone quickly and effortlessly grabbing something, which proves once again Charlie's pride in himself. Characteristically, of course, the "smug smirk" provides a facial imagery of Charlie's pride. Tone in Writing Tone in writing is not really any different than the tone of your voice. You know that sometimes it is not what you say, but how you say it. It is the same with writing. Every adjective and adverb you use, your sentence structure, and the imagery you use will show your tone. The definition of tone is the way the author expresses his attitude through his writing. The tone can change very quickly, or may remain the same throughout the story. Tone is expressed by your use of syntax, your point of view, your diction, and the level of formality in your writing.

Conveying Tone in a Story Tone in writing is conveyed by both the choices of words and the narrator of the story. Consider the tone of The School by Donald Barthelme. Here, words like "death" and "depressing" set a negative or unhappy tone: And the trees all died. They were orange trees. I dont know why they died, they just died. Something wrong with the soil possibly or maybe the stuff we got from the nursery wasnt the best. We complained about it. So weve got thirty kids there, each kid had his or her own little tree to plant and weve got these thirty dead trees. All these kids looking at these little brown sticks, it was depressing. In contrast, in Charlotte's Web, although the book is sad, the tone is one of peace and acceptance: But I feel peaceful. Your success in the ring this morning was, to a small degree, my success. Your future is assured. You will live, secure and safe, Wilbur. Nothing can harm you now. These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the 3

trees and fall. Christmas will come, and the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world, for you mean a great deal to Zuckerman and he will not harm you, ever. Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilburthis lovely world, these precious days In A River Runs Through It, loss is also addressed with a kind of acceptance. The tone here is a bit wistful, yet peaceful and moving towards acceptance nonetheless. This was the last fish we were ever to see Paul catch. My father and I talked about this moment several times later, and whatever our other feelings, we always felt it fitting that, when we saw him catch his last fish, we never saw the fish but only the artistry of the fisherman. Choosing Words for Tone In the following excerpt from Edgar Allen Poes The Tell-Tale Heart, notice the insane, nervous, and guilty tones. It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND -- MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! What COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! In Hemingways A Clean, Well-Lighted Place the tone is calm and peaceful. It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. Finally, in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the tone could be said to be mysterious, secretive, ominous, or evil. There was a steaming mist in all the hollows, and it had roamed in its forlornness up the hill, like an evil spirit, seeking rest and finding none. A clammy and intensely cold mist, it made its slow way through the air in ripples that visibly followed and overspread one another, as the waves of an unwholesome sea might do. It was dense enough to shut out everything from the light of the coach-lamps but these its own workings, and a few yards of road; and the reek of the labouring horses steamed into it, as if they had made it all. Formal and Casual Tones An example of a casual tone is: The way I look at it, someone needs to start doing something about disease. Whats the big deal? People are dying. But the average person doesnt think twice about it until it affects them. Or someone they know. A formal tone is shown in this example: There was a delay in the start of the project, attributable to circumstances beyond the control of all relevant parties. Progress came to a standstill, and no one was prepared to undertake the assessment of the problem and determination of the solution. There are as many examples of tone in a story as there are stars in the sky. Any adjective you can think of can be the tone in a story. In literature, tone refers to the author's attitude (as narrator) toward the subject of the story and the readers of the story. The author reveals tone through word choice. Your ability to 4

recognize the tone will often be the difference between understanding the story or completely missing the point. You can analyze tone by looking for specific elements within the novel or short story. Literature teachers often recommend that you keep the letters DIDLS in mind when analyzing literature for tone. They stand for diction, imagery, details, language and sentence structure (syntax).

Remember these 5 STEPS! Step 1 Pay attention to diction. In speaking, diction refers to how words are pronounced. In literature, it refers to the words the author chooses to use, whether the words chosen are abstract or concrete, general or specific, and formal or informal. Abstract words are words that can't be perceived with the senses, while concrete words are words that can be perceived and measured. For instance, the word "yellow" is concrete, but the word "pleasant" is abstract. Abstract words "tell," and are used to quickly move through events. Concrete words "show," and are used for critical scenes because they place the reader in the scenes along with the characters. General words are vague, such as "car" or "cat." These are concrete words, but they can apply to any number of specific cars or cats, so the reader can imagine what he or she wants. In contrast, specific words such as "Siamese" and "Ferrari" restrict the reader to a specific image. o Formal words are long, technical or unusual, and will be used by authors who want the reader to see them or the character as highly educated or just pompous. Informal words are those almost all readers will be familiar with, suggesting that the author is much like them. Informal words include contractions and slang, which more closely resemble the way most people speak.
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Step 2 Look at the imagery. This is descriptive language that reveals what the author or An author that writes about a character swimming in a pond of warm water and describes it as being like a warm bath is suggesting that the pond is inviting, relaxing and soothing. An author that describes the same swim as simmering in a pot may want to suggest discomfort or a sense of foreboding. Step 3

Study the details. No author can include every fact about a character, a scene or an event story. Which details are included and which omitted are important indicators of tone. One author may describe a house as having cheery flowers in the front yard, which suggests that the house is a happy home for happy occupants. Another author may not mention the flowers but talk about the peeling paint or dirty windows, suggesting that the house is a depressing place occupied by depressed people. Step 4 Listen to the language. The author will choose words according to their connotation, a meaning beyond the literal definition, that's suggested by a word, in order to reveal to the reader, the author's attitude toward the subject. An author that refers to a dog as a pooch is being affectionate, while an author who hates or fears dogs may use the word "cur." An author that refers to children as brats has a different attitude toward children than one that calls them rug rats. Twilight and dusk are both defined as the period of time between sunset and full darkness, but they suggest different things. Dusk is more about darkness than light and may suggest that night is fast approaching, with all the frightening things that happen at night. In contrast, twilight may suggest that dawn, which represents a new start, is near or that the sun has just set, An author may choose words strictly by their sound. Pleasant-sounding words suggest that the author is writing a story about pleasant things, whereas harsh sounding words suggest that the subject is also harsh or unpleasant. For instance, a wind chime may either be mellifluous (musical) or cacophonous (annoying). Step 5 Break down the sentence structure. This is the way individual sentences are constructed. The author varies his or her sentence structure to convey tone and may employ a pattern the reader can recognize. Word order in a sentence gives a hint about what part you should be paying closer attention to. Generally, the greatest emphasis is on the end of the sentence, "John brought flowers" emphasizes what John brought while "The flowers were brought by John" emphasis who brought the flowers. By inverting the word order, the author makes who brought the flowers a surprise for the reader. o Short sentences are more intense and immediate while long sentences create a distance between the reader and the story. However, longer sentences spoken by characters suggest thoughtfulness while short sentence can be seen as flip or disrespectful. o Many authors will break the rules of syntax on purpose in order to achieve a desired effect. For instance an author may choose to place a noun before its adjectives, called anastrophe, to add weight to the adjectives and make the sentence more dramatic. "The day, dark and dull" encourages the reader to pay extra attention to the unusual nature of the day.
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