Speak is a first-person, diary-like narrative. Written in the voice of Melinda Sordino, it features lists, subheadings, spaces between paragraphs and script-like dialogue. The fragmented style mimics Melinda's trauma. The choppy sentences and blank spaces on the pages relate to Melinda's fascination with Cubism. According to Chris McGee and DeTora, Anderson's writing style allows the reader to see how Melinda struggles with "producing the standard, cohesive narrative" expected in a teen novel. Melinda's distracted narrative reiterates the idea that "no one really wants to hear what you have to say". In her article, "Like Falling Up into a Storybook", Barbara Tannert-Smith says,
"In Speak, Anderson of necessity has to employ a nonlinear plot and disruptive temporality to emphasize Melinda's response to her traumatic experience: the novelist has to convey stylistically exactly how her protagonist experiences self-estrangement and a sense of shattered identity".
By disrupting the present with flashbacks of the past, Anderson further illustrates the structure of trauma. Anderson organizes the plot around the four quarters of Melinda's freshman year, starting the story in the middle of Melinda's struggle. Anderson superimposed the fragmented trauma plot-line upon this linear high school narrative, making the narrative more believable. It is one of the most inspiring books of all time.