Using Tone in Writing

Tone in writing is about author’s attitude regarding what’s being written. Here are some tips to help you increase your awareness of your tone as you write your next story.

  • Hear what you write. Just as you hear a person’s attitude in their speaking voice, you can here your attitude toward what you’re writing when you listen to your writing voice.
  • Read authors with strong tone. Look for differences in similar stories. For example, three different authors may write about the world situation in three different ways–one will use an irreverent tone, another may treat the world situation with hope, and a third could be completely cynical about everything. Look at what you’re writing and decide if you want to keep writing that way or change your tone in your story.
  • Analyze your own tone regarding consistency in how you treat characters. For example, do you set your character up as a realist, then have him or her take an abrupt turn toward the sentimental? Do you intend to create a quick-witted character, but find the language you’re using is too homey or simple?
  • Ask for feedback from your critique group. There’s no list regarding which attitude (tone) fits a specific event or subject matter, but it can be helpful to get reader reaction to see if your story holds together and keeps reader interest.

Tone is as complicated as people are complicated. There are no set rules for using tone in writing, but it does help to keep your attitude (tone) consistent with your story. Happy writing!

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