Wright's tale is told in the third person with occasional lapses when, as author, he speaks to the reader. During these times he moralizes and touches on the preachy tone his early critics noted. He begins this book talking to the reader with an allegory about the two trails of life — one leading to the higher, sunlit fields — and one leading to lower ground. Always, not just in The Shepherd of the Hills, there is a guiding element for mankind in Wright's writing.
Wright's use of dialect is very accurate, for he listened to the people of the Ozarks and recorded it faithfully. He uses it to distinguish the various characters and insert local color. He also used it to discern the various levels of book learning. When Sammy begins her studies from the "character-forming" books, her speech pattern changes as she assimilates knowledge. When her boyfriend Ollie returns from the city, his vocabulary and speech patterns also have improved.
While description is a useful tool to a writer, leading the reader to visualize the setting and understand characters' reactions, Wright is guilty of overusing description. His flowery pictures of events, people, and the Ozarks themselves bog down the narrative and leave the reader skimming ahead to pick up the plot once more.