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Lesson 7: The Author��s Influence

Lesson 7: The Author��s Influence

 TIP 1: Notice whether the author��s tone is positive, negative, or neutral

    A positive tone means that the author has a good opinion about the subject.

Emotions that are positive include happiness, pride, delight, enthusiasm, humor, love, romance, joy, etc. It can be really positive or only somewhat positive, depending on the author��s choice of words.

    A negative tone conveys bad emotions about a subject. Examples of these emotions might be sadness, anger, cynicism, bitterness, weariness, hate, disgust, etc. A neutral tone means that the author feels neither positively nor negatively about the subject. This could mean that the author doesn��t have an opinion about the topic or that he/she doesn��t wish to show one. Words that lack feeling include fair, straightforward, neutral, impartial, detached, and noncommittal.

 TIP 2: Use tone as a hint about the author��s attitude (approval for or disapproval of a topic)

 TIP 3: Pay close attention to the mood (general atmosphere) the author creates.  (Examples of mood include: spooky, suspicious, serious, etc.)

 TIP 4: Put tone, attitude, and mood together to determine the author��s purpose (reason for writing). Purpose usually falls into one of these groups:

    Writing to inform: Authors may want to give you information about something without giving you his/her opinion on that subject. This includes explaining, describing, giving facts. If there is more than one side to an issue, the author will present both of them, and lets you make up your mind how you feel about the subject. Examples: news stories on the front page of the newspaper, and nonfiction magazine articles.Writing to teach- Examples: school textbooks, ��how-to�� books and magazines, recipes, and instructions.Writing to persuade: This is when an author wants you to convince you to think like he/she does. This might be done by criticizing something they don��t like, warning of something bad that might happen as a result, or to ask you to do something about a topic. Examples: editorials, letters to the editor, and movie, book, and music reviews.Writing to express: This is where an author is expressing his or her feelings. Example: journal entries

 TIP 5: Consider the author��s background and biases.

Everything that people create is affected by their world. When you��re trying to figure out why an author does or says something, you must think about where/when the piece was written, and who he/she was writing for. Sometimes the author will give you this information, and sometimes you��ll just know based on things you��ve heard, read, or seen. This information will help you determine if they are prejudiced or biased against a subject.

 TIP 6: Decide whether the argument is adequate, accurate, and appropriate.

    adequate: Does the author give enough information to support his/her ideas?accurate: Does the author give you reason to trust the information? For example, do they cite reliable sources? Can the facts be checked?appropriate: Does the information fit the topic? Does the evidence tell you something important about the topic, or does it make you say, ��So what?��

 TIP 7: Know the difference between facts and opinions.

Facts can be checked in other places to find out whether they are accurate or not. Opinions tell someone��s feelings about a topic.

 TIP 8: Check to see if an author��s inferences are valid (true or correct).

 TIP 9: Beware of persuasive techniques that appeal to your emotions (propaganda).

    The bandwagon effect tries to convince you that you should go along with the majority, because the majority��s right!Name calling makes accusations, but doesn��t give facts to support their claim.Stereotyping uses common, unfair images of a group to make a point.Snobbery tries to makes people think they can be better than others by acting or thinking a certain way.The ��ordinary folks�� technique tries to connect the author with simple values and down-to-earth people and connects opposing ideas with people who think they are better than others.Glittering generalities are words that sound patriotic, attractive, or catchy, but really don��t mean anything.A scientific claim attempts to impress readers by using words that sound high-tech or scientific, but may not be supported by evidence.A testimonial tells you to base your decision on what someone else thinks, usually someone who is famous or important.Scare tactics describe ��possible�� negative effects with strong and unsupported images that make people act out of fear instead of reason.Guilt by association: implies that friends or relatives of those who fail or do wrong must also be failures or wrongdoers.Emotional word repetition: builds up strong feelings in the reader by using words that appeal to your emotions.
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