5th Grade - Author's Techniques

Stories and Literature
Author's techniques
Evaluate the author's use of various techniques (e.g., appeal of characters in a picture book, logic and credibility of plots and settings, use of figurative language) to influence readers' perspectives.
Be able to identify various ways authors choose to present their material, from the setting to choice of point of view to illustrations and how effective those choices are on a reader.

Sample Problems


Is the use of realistic illustrations a technique that can influence a reader of a book? (yes)


Is the author’s choice of setting an important one that influences the reader’s perspective of the story? (yes)


True or False: The illustrations in a picture book have little or no effect on readers. (false)


True or False: An unbelievable plot makes the story seem more real and more exciting to readers. (false)


True or False: Most authors ignore techniques and let their words stand for themselves. (false)

Learning Tips



Writing techniques or author’s techniques – ways an author accomplishes a certain effect on the reader. This is a huge category, which includes everything from using letter format to choice of setting to illustrations to the appeal of characters.

Reader’s perspective- the way the reader feels about or sees something. This view can be colored or influenced by the author in many ways.


Illustrations Illustrate!

Authors must make choices about every part of a reading, not just the words themselves, but also the visuals that surround the text. From the opening line to the illustrations, everything is intended to create an effect on the reader.

Find a picture book, such as Bill and Peter Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola. Look at the pictures and notice details in the pictures that support and add to the text. What does Bill’s “toothbrush” look like? A bird cleans a crocodile’s teeth! How does Bill’s mother feel about him? Do the hearts drawn above her head give her feelings away? Notice how illustrations add more to the story than just the words can say.



Memorable characters come alive for us while we read. They live on the page and in our hearts and minds. We cannot forget them.

Be alert to characters you read about in the same way you are when you meet someone. Observe their actions. Listen closely to what they say and how they say it. Notice how they relate to other characters and how other characters respond to them. Look for clues as to their purpose and significance in the story.

Think about a major character in a story. Choose a very significant part of her personality and imagine the opposite of it. For example, if she’s rich, make her poor; if she’s old, make her young; if she’s happy, make her sad, and so on. How does this change influence the story and your view of it? Why did the author make the choice she did?


Tea Staining Technique

Even the way the words on a page look can influence a reader’s perspective. Would a really old map be on paper that is white, unwrinkled, and fresh? Try this technique to turn a new map into an old one: Put the page on a cookie sheet and pour black tea over it. Let it dry in the sun. How does your first impression of the page change the way you think about its message?


Television Techniques

Words and phrases are not the only tools authors have, but commercial producers have many, many visual techniques to persuade viewers at home to buy their product.

The next time you are watching television, pay attention to the techniques in commercials: the characters you see on the screen, the setting. emotion-charged words, rhetorical questions, repetition, hyperbole, etc. Complete the chart below.


Technique Used


Extra Help Problems


True or False: The point of view of a story is an important choice for an author. (true)


True or False: The setting of a story is an important choice for an author. (true)


True or False: The way an author introduces a character doesn’t matter. (false)


True or False: How appealing characters are influences the way readers feel about them. (true)


True or False: Readers will root or feel for sympathetic and boring characters the same amount. (false)


True or False: The pictures that go with the text have no effect on the way readers view the story. (false)


True or False: The cover of a book has no effect on the way readers view the story. (false)


Which character is more appealing? A man who is described as having a “favorable report” or a man who is unknown. (the one with the favorable report)


True or False: The logic of the plot is an important choice for an author. (true)


True or False: How realistic the details of a story are influences the reader’s perception of it. (true)


True or False: More realistic illustrations make a book seem more realistic overall. (true)


True or False: Authors need to be aware of and use techniques to get their message across. (true)


True or False: Readers need to be aware of authors’ techniques to understand how authors are getting their message across. (true)


True or False: Imagery is not an effective technique for creating pictures in the reader’s mind. (false)


Which is the more figurative way to describe a slow car: “a tortoise of a car” or “a slow car”? (“a tortoise of a car”)


Which is the more figurative way to describe a cut cable: “the cable was like a snake, writhing and twisting on the street” or “the cut cable went up and down on the street”? (the first way)


Which is the more figurative way to describe a sunset: “the sky was beautiful” or “the sky bloomed with beautiful color”? (the second way)


Which is a more logical setting for a wedding: the tundra or a meadow? (a meadow)


Which is the more likely setting for a baby learning to walk: his own house or a parking lot? (his own house)


Which is the more figurative way to describe a slow car: “a tortoise of a car” or “a slow car”? (“a tortoise of a car”)


Which is the more figurative way to describe something hot: “burning like a flame” or “too hot to handle”? (“burning like a flame”)


Which is the more likely setting for a mystery: a moonless night or a bright stadium? (a moonless night)


Which is the more figurative way to describe an angry bull: an unset cow or ten tons of snorting, pawing muscle? (ten tons of snorting, pawing muscle)


Which is the more logical narrator for a detective novel: the detective or his secretary? (the detective)


Which is a more likely setting for a heated argument: outside of a church or outside of a bar? (outside a bar)


Related Games


Copyright ©2009 Big Purple Hippos, LLC