What is Roald Dahls writing style?  

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Roald Dahl has a very refreshing and irreverent writing style, which is partly the reason that children love it so much and respond to his books so enthusiastically. For example, in his book of 'Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes' and his fairytales, he gives the heroines some very sophisticated and quite grown up attitudes. This is very funny for children to read, as they enjoy slightly risque stories of damsels not in distress, but who are giving back what they get in terms of bullying! There is one who hides a pistol among her petticoats, and another who is very rude and dismissive to her rather hopeless and ineffectual Prince Charming, dispatching home with great efficiency and in cold blood. The ugly sisters are priceless!

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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As he is a writer of fiction and, more specifically of children's fantasy fiction, Roald Dahl's writing style is a mix of Plain and Sweet, according to Walker Gibson's Style Machine.

Most of Dahl's narration is Plain:

-high frequency words

-monosyllabic words

-contractions, articles

-1st person pronouns

-action verbs, active tense


-Anglo-Saxon words

-simple sentences

-short, choppy

-compound sentences (lots of coordinating conjunctions “and”)

Occassionally, Dahl moves to Sweet (like Dr. Seuss), especially when his Ooompa Loompas are singing:


-2nd person pronouns




-2nd Person (You-oriented)


-pathos (emotional)



-little reasoning needed



-slogans, catch-phrases


Here's a sample from "My Grandmother":

"I myself had two separate encounters with witches before I was eight years old. From the first I escaped unharmed, but in the second occasion I was not so lucky.  Things happened to me that will probably make you scream when you read about them. That can't be helped. The truth must be told. The fact that I am still here and able to speak to you (however peculiar I may look) is due entirely to my wonderful grandmother."

Notice the Plain Style: the first person pronouns, intimate voice, simple sentences, contractions, monosyllabic words, high frequency words, lots of articles (Plain style is the language of fiction, confession)

Notice the Sweet Style: use of parentheses, 2nd person pronouns; the last two or three sentences read like a movie promo (Sweet Style is the language of advertising)

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