Style comes into play in unifying a story when a strong narrative voice or a distinctive method of description or rhythm is employed. This is an element that will be working with another unifier such as action or place.
Style can suggest genre. A story starting, "The name's Johnson, Jim Johnson, but people know me as Jimmy the Eye," is probably a mystery or at least a gangsterland tale. A style is also suggestive of a particular outlook on life and an audience may be interested in seeing how the world appears through the particular metaphorical magnifying glass of the narrator.
Style can also change within a story, so that it is specific to certain characters. That way, for instance, every time the audience starts experiencing a light dreamy style, they know they are dealing with the ingenue, and when they start experiencing a dark and ominous style they know that they are dealing with the villain. Within a multi-linear work this can help to keep clear which narrative path the audience may be traversing. This same method might be used to indicate periods of time. One style might be used to denote past time and another to denote current time, freeing us once more from a rigid chronology.
Copyright 1999 Katherine Phelps