Effects of Diction, Structure, and Tone on Clarity, Style Guide #4

        It is common knowledge in literature that when one writes, it’s imperative to use proper grammar and structure sentences in a cohesive fashion. However, within many works of fiction that is not the case. Building the world within takes precedence over being correct in grammar. By focusing solely on the grammar and structural organization of the work, it’s possible to bypass the overall meaning. Consequently, conforming to the strict, longstanding rules of grammar hinders and limits creativity and movement for a piece of writing. It should be acceptable to make meaningful grammatical choices in writing so long as there is clarity in meaning. Through purposeful “mistakes” in grammar usage, authors develop settings and characters in a way that allows for an environment particular to that story.

        The Storium story, “Harmonia,” displays excellent use of grammar throughout all character thoughts, dialogue, and descriptions. Every now and then there are some run-on sentences or misplaced commas, but as a whole, it is very structured. In addition to the formal structure of the sentences, the diction is a bit sophisticated at times. Both of these support the portrayal of the time period. It is a common consensus among readers and others that the past was more conventional and followed a more uniform standard for writing and speaking. Even though this story takes place in the 1950’s which wasn’t an extremely long time ago, the author’s choice to write in a very organized and refined definitely develops that specific image and tone in the audience’s imagination.

        A majority of the sentences composing this story follow the standard subject to  verb to object formatting. This occurs especially in the first scene. Grammatically this is a correct way to write a simple sentence, but there isn’t as much variety in sentence types or shifts in tone. As far as word choice, the author chooses to use “cannot” instead of “can’t” in multiple characters dialogue. Both are correct, but usually, it is common to use “can’t in today’s time. This is appropriate for the audience’s possible expectations for tone and emphasizes the time period. For many, the purpose of organized grammar is clarity. The writing style in this story can be very clear as seen in the scene in which the main character, Diana, ponders the planning of her festival and her deal with Mr. Roccafella.

“She decided to allow Mr. Roccafella to build the railroad as long as it made a stop at her farm. She also decided to reach out to Johnny Summer to see if he can have a concert at her farm”

(thePHEONIX, Harmonia, sc 3).

        These two sentences appear together in the story. The repetition of “at the farm” provides absolute clarity as to where these events are taking place. Although, substituting the the latter phrase with either “here” or “there” would have been just as comprehensible for readers. Additionally, “How is she to survive?” This is a line spoken by a neighbor, and it exhibits the manner in which phrasing can define a time. At present, one might say, “How is she going to survive” or “ How will she survive.” Both options are more relaxed. Then, there are other, smaller instances where words that are important to the story’s impact. Using “protruded” in the third scene to describe Diana’s desired stage when words such as “grand” or “extended” are more recent, enhances the “old-time” impression.

        On the contrary, the Storium story “Unexpected Love” includes many unconventional design choices in its sentences. As “Harmonia” was mostly written in the same way, this story has more variety in writing. A lot of its sentences begin with prepositional phrases. When reading this, it leads one to continue further. The words also build a tone of a faster pace, including many contractions. This story involves teens and prom, and with that subject, comes elements more dramatic in nature. The author chose to use capitalization to bring attention to some words and actions. In the first scene, “NERD, “HER,” “SO HOT,” are written in capital letters to focus on the character descriptions. Within character dialogue, there are few rules to be followed, but this choice is unique.

        The words of this Cinderella retelling create very vivid imagery through uses of simile and other figurative language. “… [F]lowers, the setting sun, the warm summer breeze,…”, “A complete goddess.” (TheArtist14, Unexpected Love, sc 1) These are some examples of the the wide range of imagery used. The omission of “and” in the first places more significance on each item. The second is not even a complete sentence, but it is effective in exaggerating Marissa’s beauty.

        There is also frequent improper use of ellipsis in the duration of the story. However, aside from being pauses in speech, these work to create small moments of suspense at different points in the narrative as in, “The three’s verbal assault is cut off when they see her…”(TheArtist14, Unexpected Love, sc 1). That line is the last in the opening narration, and it creates a desire among the audience to keep reading. Some may claim that the excessive use of some elements does not demonstrate “good writing,” yet it is suitable in this case because of the situation of the story. It is very animated and the writing style showcases this.

        In the first story, it’s extensive clarity displayed by repetition and lack of contractions constructed a formal tone that amplified the setting. It also seemed to halt or stutter the stream of events in some passages. Whereas the structure of the first made the tone appear to be strict, that of the second developed a fluid tone. Through diction in dialogue and timely verbiage, the authors of each piece shape the worlds within the narratives. This decision provides each story with a distinct and recognizable air. In both, the authors demonstrate ways to make sentence structure and diction work. Whether the grammar was completely intact or “sacrificed,” each narrative was effective in communicating to audiences and creating a solidified ambiance.


BrianChong, ThePHEONIX, Vdman, and Brandonlee. “Read “Harmonia (copy)” on Storium.” Storium. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2018. <https://storium.com/game/harmonia-copy/act-1/scene-2>.

TheArtist14, FinesseGod3416, I_AM_ME, and Dann59. “Read “Unexpected Love (Revised)” on Storium.” Storium. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2018. <https://storium.com/game/unexpected-love-revised/act-1/scene-1>