Teaching Style

Winston Weathers tasks for teaching style:

  • Students should understand that style is significant and relevant.
    • Style as personal freedom and individuality
  • Students should understand that style is measurable and viable.
    • Students must learn the components of style and how to analyze those components before they can control their own style (Glenn 202).

Hierarchy of style:

  • Formal (literary)
  • Informal (colloquial)
  • Vulgar (illiterate)

Teachers should teach style based on the most appropriate for the rhetorical situation – considering the subject, the writer, and the reader (audience).
(Glenn 203, 206)

Exercises for Developing Style

  • Imitation
    • Copying
      • Copy for less than 20 min.
      • Write by hand
      • Copy from more than one author
      • Read the entire passage before copying
      • Copy slowly and accurately
    • Pattern Practice
      • “Students choose or are given single sentences to use as patterns, after which they design sentences of their own.”
    • Micronarration
      • Read a passage or story and write mini stories in the same way  (Glenn 207-210).

The following example is take from The St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing and can be used to combine some of the previous exercises into a student assignment:

Example 8.3

  • Choose a passage (two paragraphs or so) from a favorite prose writer’s work.
  • Copy the passage by hand, paying particular attention to sentence patterns.
  • Now choose a passage from as essay you have written.
  • Rewrite your own passage using the exact same sentence structures (and order) used by your favorite author in the passage you copied.
  • Then write a paragraph reflecting on the choices you made in revising your work in terms of another writer’s sentence patterns.  What did you add?  What did you cut?  Did this exercise make you think about your own style in a different way?   (Glenn 211).

Works Cited

Glenn, Cheryl, and Melissa A. Goldthwaite. The St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.


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