An amalgamation of words
An amalgamation of words
Diction is the study of an author's word choice: it explains why an author chooses a given word over another, similar one. Often, words listed in a thesaurus as "synonyms" have slightly different meanings, or at least different connotations. For example, a robotics team might have a bunch of bolts, or it might have a plethera of bolts. Both mean that the number of bolts is quite large; however, "bunch" does not hold any additional meaning, whereas "plethera" indicates that the number of bolts is quite excessive.
Diction can also be applied not to individual words, but to the style of an entire piece. Some works, such as the plays of Shakespeare, are written very formally, using words rarely spoken aloud; others, such as notes passed in class, are written in common vernacular, with words that have simpler meanings.
Diction is highly related to syntax, or sentence choice. Syntax defines how an author orders words, when and if articles and prepositions are used, and even comma usage.

Formal Diction

Formal diction defines the highest class of literary vocablulary. Such writing tends to use punctuation immaculately, with sentences that are grammatically correct in every way. Works written in this style are very articulate. Some readers often argue that these works are grandiloquent, or "wordy" for no reason; however, formal word choice allows authors to say exactly what they mean, and express tone as intended. Then lack of spoken word intonation in written works means that simple words have simple meanings; to express more complex ideas, more complex words are required.

Often, works are written formally for different reasons. Shakespeare wrote his plays formally, using language well above the average listener's level, so as to give them class; it made his plays sound educated, and allowed him to convey more meaning in fewer words, with more ability for inflection. See also: Poetic Diction.
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Poetic Diction

Works written with poetic diction revolve around the concept of making words flow, rhyme, or otherwise sound poetic. Here, the sound and length of the word, and the sentence syntax, take precedence over exact meaning. Poems are not the only works that use poetic diction; any work intended to flow, such as Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day, uses poetic diction.

Poetic diction is distinct from formal diction; however, they are not mutually exclusive. Shakespeare's plays are both poetic and formal.

Middle Diction

Middle diction is a gradient between very formal literature, and casual writing. The author would obviously use proper grammar and spelling, but it is more relaxed than you would expect from an uptight piece of writing.
A clever example of middle diction would be the 2006 novel: The Road. This book had very specific and clever word choice, however the author included no pieces of punctuation other than full stops, only using periods. This was obviously not an informal piece of writing; however the edginess of the author avoided tremendously formal literature. The balance of diction in between two extremes, which most writing falls under, is middle diction.

Informal Diction

Informal Diction, also called Colloquial diction, is the most commonly used type of diction because we use it every day when we speak, when we pass a note in class, or more commonly now, when we text one another. Using “like” as a conjunction is very common and most defiantly colloquial. A classic example is Mark Twain who is a master of a style that escapes from the printed page. You can hear the story playing out in your mind. Ex:
"We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed--only a little kind of a low chuckle. We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all--that night, nor the next, nor the next."(Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884)

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