Tone writing is a major challenge for most learners. A short story or a novel is characterized by concrete elements like plot, subject matter, theme, the main character, and viewpoint of the author. Tone and voice are more ineffable but also important characteristics of quality writing.
When used properly, tone and voice can transcend your words in writing. They can help you create characters and a fictional world will feel real to your readers. Whether you want to write a book, an email, or a tweet, it would help if you could use a tone and voice that defines your message. Unfortunately, most students don’t know much about voice and tone.
What Is Tone in Writing?
Before proceeding with this discussion, it’s crucial to define in writing. Our experts in language arts prefer this short definition.
Tone can be defined as the attitude that a writer employs. It’s the attitude the writer exhibits towards an audience or a subject. A person conveys their tone through their viewpoint and word choice.
Any written piece has a subject matter or a central theme. How the writer approaches that subject or theme is the tone of their work. A tone can mean more than the chosen words, just like it is the case for spoken words. In a written piece, the tone can conceal your intention or reveal it.
For instance, if someone your spouse says, ‘we need to talk,’ you immediately realize that something could be wrong. But, if the same person rephrases the same message and asks, ‘can we chat?’ you will most likely not be alarmed. That’s because the second message phrase doesn’t have a negative force. And this force is all because of the tone.
This tone in writing definition can be confused with the emotional response that a receiver gets from the message. However, this is not always the sender’s intention, though it exists. What’s more, people will always look for it in your writing. If you don’t get your desired response from the readers, it means you probably didn’t use the right tone.
Why is Tone Important in Writing?
Perhaps, to understand the importance of tone in any written work, it’s crucial to examples of tone in writing. The tone you use in your writing differs based on the situation and the audience. For instance, you have to be polite and formal when writing an email to your supervisor or boss at your workplace on work-related issues. However, you’re more casual and friendly when writing your friend or cousin an email.
- Writing tones show how a writer relates to the reader’s emotions, wants, interests, and needs. A writer’s engagement with the audience makes their content stronger. When chosen and used properly, the tone can establish a connection between the writer and the reader. It can elicit the emotional response a brand or the author wants from the readers.
- Essentially, proper tone writing can influence the reader’s reaction directly. If you use an angry tone when writing about unethical sourcing by your competitors, you might persuade the audience to respond angrily. But if you use a formal tone and sound factual in your writing, you won’t get an angry response from your readers.
- Based on the writing tone definition, you should sound convincing in your business written work. That’s because you want to convince your readers to take a specific action. For instance, you may want your readers to purchase a product or sign up for your newsletter. That means you should use your tone and style in writing to convince the audience to take your desired action.
- Humans are naturally emotional creatures. As such, they can make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. Using the right tone in business writing can generate emotions that will push people to purchase what you’re selling.
Types of Tone in Writing
Based on the above tone writing definition, you can convey different tones in your writing. Essentially, any attitude, emotion, or perspective can be the foundation of a tone in your writing. Almost any adjective be a type of tone in writing.
Here are the different types of tone in writing:
- Optimistic tone: Although the world may be full of bad stuff, some people believe it is and will be a good place to live one day. Such people use an optimistic tone in their written work.
- Pessimistic tone: Some people are not positive about the world or something they may be writing about. A pessimistic tone shows the author believes that something won’t get better. Unfortunately, the author can hold that view even when facts show otherwise.
- Friendly tone: A friendly tone in writing lets the audience know they can rely on and trust in you. When using this tone, the author sounds natural, confident, and clear.
- Serious tone: Using this tone in written work creates suspense within the audience. However, it increases focus by telling the readers that the writer is presenting important concepts.
- Objective tone: An objective tone in writing is impartial. It means the author doesn’t show feelings against or for a topic. When using this tone, the writer avoids pronouns and instead employs high-level words. And this creates a formal tone.
- Joyful tone: This tone focuses on the positive emotions of the moment. For instance, a person can express joy after eating something sweet. Similarly, reciprocal love brings joy. A writer can use a joyful tone to establish a relationship-building experience between characters and readers.
- Formal tone: A formal tone in writing is mostly seen in academic works. It entails high reading skills and structured language. Writers use this tone to present facts with backing evidence rather than their opinions.
- Humorous tone: When a writer feels funny, readers change how they think about concepts they thought were difficult. When used properly, this tone draws the audience into a narrative or story and then engages their thoughts with certain opinions or facts more comfortably.
- Casual tone: A casual tone in writing is conversational. It’s the same tone you use when having a casual conversation with your family member or roommate.
- Sad: Human beings feel sad. And even authors can incorporate this tone in their writing. Using this tone can make readers sympathize with a character in a written work or even the author.
- Informal tone: An informal tone in writing helps the author to convey their expertise on a subject matter without being formal or serious.
- Neutral tone: Being neutral means the author doesn’t support or oppose any side of an argument. Using a neutral tone in writing enables the author to avoid being biased. It also brings out their objectivity on the topic.
- Personal tone: When an author uses a personal tone in writing, they write as if they are talking to the reader or the audience directly. As such, they use first or third-person viewpoint. What’s more, the author can use the second person viewpoint to address the readers.
Generally, there are many kinds of tone in writing. Take your time to study them if you want to use different tones in your writing.
How to Identify Tone in Writing
Most people confuse voice and tone in writing. Well, tone refers to the attitude of the author towards an audience or a subject. You convey tone in your written work via your viewpoint on a subject or the words you use.
On the other hand, voice refers to who the audience hears talking in a written work. Voice can be academic or institutional. That is, you can have a formal or objective voice. What’s more, you can use a personal or distinct voice in your work.
Thus, voice is the person the readers hear speak while the tone is how you do your writing. But regardless of the tone you choose, you have to pick your tone. For instance, the tone in technical writing is mostly formal. That’s because this kind of writing should be informative and effective. Your voice, style, and tone should work together to help you convey the message most effectively.
But, how do you identify the tone of writing of an author? Here are 3 tips to guide you in finding tone in writing:
- Skim through the introduction: Most authors provide a snippet of their tone in the introduction. Thus, you can easily determine the tone employed by the author without reading a large part of the work. Just reading the introductory information can help you determine whether the author uses a formal tone, a serious tone, or a friendly tone in writing.
- Watch the word choice: The choice of words influences the tone of a written work. Therefore, read through the words that an author uses to determine their tone. For instance, an author can use words that make you relax when reading their work. Another writer can use words that make the text sound sarcastic. Thus, you can easily determine the tone of a written text by checking the choice of words. Also, don’t forget to proofread your writing for grammar mistakes.
- Trust your instinct: Even after reading tone in writing examples, describing tone in a piece of written work might not be easy. That’s because tone appeals to the emotions of the readers. Therefore, pay attention to how you feel when reading the text. Does the text make you feel sad, angry, funny, or happy? Use those feelings to come up with an adjective that describes the tone of the text.
Everything an author writes has their voice. This is what makes their writing sound unique. But, you can also identify the tone of voice in writing. That’s why some people prefer reading works by certain authors because they are probably humorous, funny, or sarcastic.
Tone and voice in writing play a crucial role in influencing the response or reaction of the reader. However, identifying the tone or the voice and differentiating them is not easy. That’s everything a person writes has their voice in it. Tone, on the other hand, adds emotions to the voice. If still unsure about the tone of a text you’re reading, consider using an online writing tone analyzer to identify it.