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Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!

Style, Tone, and Mood

Aesthetic decisions create style. Film stlye, for instance, appears in the way a camera cuts and moves, or how dialogue and sound effects pop. In fashion, style emerges from the choice of colors, materials, and cut of fabric. Literary style comes from how authors combine words to create mental patterns and textures. An author uses style to suggest tone and mood for a story or poem.         


Mood is the atmosphere that a text conveys. Is the story disturbing and tense? It is likely that the author created this mood not just through the meanings of words themselves (“it was a dark and stormy night”), but through the amount of description and the length of sentences. A scary story might supply us with plenty of information about its setting (“the windy moor was perpetually overcast, carving deep pockets of darkness into the craggy earth”). But it might be light on descriptions of action, leaving us to imagine what is going on (“the door slowly creaked open”).             

Tone is the attitude of a speaker or narrator towards its subject. The tone for a story might be reverent, snarky, down-to-earth, or dismissive. This reveals information about the characters, setting, and plot, but also about the narrator and author. 

Style in literature: Ernest Hemingway earned the nickname “the iceberg” because his spare style gave only the slightest hints of a much larger backstory and emotional life of his characters. 

Tone in literature: David Foster Wallace’s flip but fussy tone reveals his ambivalence about self-control and self-creation. 

Mood in literature: Joyce Carol Oates’ slightly altered rock lyrics and ‘60s slang in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” create a general mood of unease.