Your Voice in Writing – Part 4 – Tone

photo credit: tranchis via photo pin cc

Diction + Pacing + Sentence Structure + Tone = Voice

Watch your tone, young lady!

I heard that a lot growing up. I had a bit of a smart mouth (easy on the “had”), and I was always getting in trouble for my “tone”.

Tone in writing – tone is the attitude of the writer towards the subject – blah blah blah … cue the teacher’s voice from Peanuts!

Here’s what tone means in writing –

What does the writer think about the subject? Does the writer think that something is humorous, sad, mysterious?

Tone shapes and colors how we feel about something. Tone is the way the writer’s feelings are expressed.


“All morons hate it when you call them morons.” — Holden Caulfied, Catcher in the Rye

Sarcastic, satirical, a coming of age story where the protagonist is alone in the world. The tone of Holden’s words give us a distinct impression of Salinger’s thoughts on this issue.

Tone is what gives us different interpretations of the phrase “Thanks for helping.” Depending on the story surrounding that phrase, it could be sincere. It could be sarcastic.

Tone along with diction, pacing, and sentence structure help give us our distinct Voices in writing.

What tone do you find you are drawn to as a reader and as a writer?



About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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2 Responses to Your Voice in Writing – Part 4 – Tone

  1. See… and here, all this time, I thought when they said I had a “smart mouth” it was meant as a compliment! Hmm. Guess that changes things a bit! LOL

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