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I am just completely stuck and on the verge of giving up. My last day of school is today and if I don't hand in this essay I will fail no matter what. The essay is on the type of essay, voice and tone in the chapter toolbox of Stephen King's book, On Writing: A memoir of the craft. I just have no clue what else to write about, and tone and voice are extremely confusing.Please if you can help that would be amazing and I would be very appreciative.

This is what I have so far, and basically I just need to make it longer but I really am having trouble with what to write about for tone and voice.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King is a revealing book about the life of a writer, and how he became one. In the second section, “Toolbox”, King offers advice he has acquired along the way of his writing career. In “Toolbox” King gets personal and shares a memory from his childhood about his Uncle’s toolbox and its significance. He compares his Uncle’s toolbox to a figurative toolbox of knowledge that he helps fill with the basic tools of the writing trade.

“Toolbox” is an expository essay because it is a “how to” for writers and is instructional. King avoids being boring or dull like many manuals are. He is rather friendly and down to earth. King’s friendly and passionate persona are reflected in the essay “Toolbox” by his voice and tone.

For someone with so much knowledge and experience as Stephen King it can be tricky to give advice and not appear pretententious or pompous. But by breaking things down, using humor and avoiding “bull (expletive)” King’s advice and presence come off as sincere.

The textbook Literature for Composition eighth edition by Sylvan Barnet identifies expository essays, as opposed to meditative or argumentative, as providing information and to have an “equally clear organization” (pg 299). The chapter “Toolbox” meets both of these guidelines. The information and tools on writing are broken down to the essentials making it clear and unintimidating. The writing tools King provides in this chapter are about grammar, vocabulary, verbs, tense and form. His passion for writing is evident and contagious throughout the book. All these points are examples of how he effectively explains and inspires writing.

“Toolbox” isn’t an ordinary how to, King connects and engages his audience by being open. He effectively teaches by being relatable and unintimidating. By sharing stories and he conveys his persona as friendly. King starts out this chapter by introducing his favorite lyrics by John Prine. Prine sings about his grandpa being a carpenter who smoked camel cigarettes. The reason King likes theses lyrics is because he can relate and reminisce as his grandfather was a carpenter smoked camels. King then goes on to share a childhood memory in vivid detail. While telling this story he includes his childhood thoughts. For example “The lid held done by latches, to my child’s eye they looked like the latches on a lunchbox” (pg 104).

These are all examples of how he conveyed a friendly voice. An authors voice is usually distant when writing about instructions.

As if you personally know him, in his writing King is unguarded and honest. King shared his favorite lyrics touching, ??????? (relate his writing approach reality audience can relate, enjoyable memorable).
Conversational tone

  • English -

    The primary thing I can suggest that you do is to add details and more details as very specific examples of what you're referring to.

    Quotations -- from this and other books of his -- are the best details (evidence that your thesis is true) to use.

    For example, you wrote, "King then goes on to share a childhood memory in vivid detail" but you never bothered to tell what that childhood memory is IN DETAIL.

    You should also avoid using filthy language in your paper, even quoted. Find better words.

  • english -

    Thank you for using the Jiskha Homework Help Forum. Have you read anything else by Stephen King that you can mention? Many of his books are quite scary! Here are some sites that may help you:


    2. (a review of that book):

    3. (what one reader has to say):

    4. (from a recommended book list):

    The Online Thesaurus can help you find acceptable synonyms. If you need any information on "tone & voice" let us know.


  • english -

    P.S. From Literature Terminology:

    TONE: The means of creating a relationship or conveying an attitude or mood. By looking carefully at the choices an author makes (in characters, incidents, setting; in the work's stylistic choices and diction, etc.), careful readers often can isolate the tone of a work and sometimes infer from it the underlying attitudes that control and color the story or poem as a whole. The tone might be formal or informal, playful, ironic, optimistic, pessimistic, or sensual. To illustrate the difference, two different novelists might write stories about capitalism. Author #1 creates a tale in which an impoverished but hard-working young lad pulls himself out of the slums when he applies himself to his education, and he becomes a wealthy, contented middle-class citizen who leaves his past behind him, never looking back at that awful human cesspool from which he rose. Author #2 creates a tale in which a dirty street-rat skulks his way out of the slums by abandoning his family and going off to college, and he greedily hoards his money in a gated community and ignores the suffering of his former "equals," whom he leaves behind in his selfish desire to get ahead. Note that both author #1 and author #2 basically present the same plotline. While the first author's writing creates a tale of optimism and hope, the second author shapes the same tale into a story of bitterness and cynicism. The difference is in their respective tones--the way they convey their attitudes about particular characters and subject-matter. Note that in poetry, tone is often called voice.

    AUTHORIAL VOICE: The voices or speakers used by authors when they seemingly speak for themselves in a book. (In poetry, this might be called a poetic speaker). The use of this term makes it clear in critical discussion that the narration or presentation of a story is not necessarily to be identified with the biographical and historical author. Instead, the authorial voice may be another fiction created by the author. It is often considered poor form for a modern literary critic to equate the authorial voice with the historical author, but this practice was common in the nineteenth century. However, twentieth-century critics have pointed out that often a writer will assume a false persona of attitudes or beliefs when she writes, or that the authorial voice will speak of so-called biographical details that cannot possibly be equated with the author herself. In the early twentieth-century, New Critics also pointed out that linking the authorial voice with the biographical author often unfairly limited the possible interpretations of a poem or narrative. Finally, many writers have enjoyed writing in the first person and creating unreliable narrators--speakers who tell the story but who obviously miss the significance of the tale they tell, or who fail to connect important events together when the reader does. Because of these reasons, it is often considered naive to assume that the authorial voice is a "real" representation of the historical author.

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