Tone, Using DIDLS
You will be asked how a writer’s techniques reveal his/her attitude. This is another way of asking what the tone is. Here’s how to answer that question:
- Name the subject. What is the piece about?
satiric cynical whimsical dramatic informative somber urgent confident objective ironic didactic factual disdainful pedantic indignant flippant condescending patronizing detached scornfuleffusive compassionate impartial irreverentmoralistic sympathetic angry insolent
- Label the writer’s attitude towards the subject. First, is it positive or negative? Second, what does the writer’s mood seem to be? Find the right word that combines these. Here are some words that can be used to describe tone:
- Treat this label like a thesis or claim. Support your claim (about the author’s tone) with evidence. These are areas where you can find evidence of the tone:
D Diction: the author’s specific word choices. What word usages are the best clues revealing the author’s attitude towards the subject?
I Imagery: the word pictures and other sensory details. What images reveal the author’s attitude?
D Details: Imagery is one kind of detail, but others include statistics, times, or specifics that describe a process, action or train of thought.
L Language: This term describes the characteristics of the body of words used (terms like slang, scholarly, colloquial, jargon describe language). The writer’s relationship with his/her material—respectful, familiar, distant, passionately involved—is revealed by the way s/he speaks around it.
S Syntax or Sentence Structure: short sentences are often emotional or assertive and give a different tone than longer sentences which can sound more reasoning, scholarly or poetic. A short sentence after long ones can be humorous or emphasize a point. Syntax reveals the author’s attitude where it sets a mood, creates a feeling—the author’s feeling.