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June 11, 2013
Typing on Keyboard

Typing on Keyboard

One of the tools in a writer’s bag of tricks is something called tone. The words a writer chooses to puts together to convey thoughts, creates the tone of the writing. The tone is the attitude the writer has. It is projected through the written word and comes through as what the writer feels about what is being written.

Tone begins with the writer’s purpose. By asking and answering the question “why am I writing this,” the writer can begin to determine how they feel about it and what they want to accomplish by writing it. They can begin to set the tone just by understanding the reason they put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) as the case may be.

It is also important for the writer to consider the audience of what they are writing. By understanding who they are writing the piece for, they can further determine the tone. If you’ve ever listened to the personality in a person’s voice (the tone) when they talk to a baby or their pet dog or cat, it is clearly extremely different than the way it sounds when they are on the phone at work or around other adults. So the who, the piece is written for has a lot to do with the type of tone the writer should select.

The last thing to consider when deciding on the tone of the writing is what you want to accomplish by writing the piece. What is it you want your readers to come away with after they have read what you have to say? Is there something particular you want them to learn? Do you want to persuade them to think about something differently than they might have before reading your writing? Are you trying to help them understand something that may not have been obvious or clear to them? By considering the outcome of the piece you are writing, you can plan the most appropriate tone to use to convey your thoughts most effectively.

Pug Puppy

Pug Puppy

There are many similarities that I see with the tone we employ when speaking and when writing. If we want to tell someone about a place that is far, far away in a land of make-believe, our speaking voice will sound nothing like the voice we use when we try and inform them about the best way to save money for an economically sound retirement. It is the same way with our writing.

We alter the tone of our writing to reflect what we are writing for, who we are writing to and what we hope to accomplish with our writing. By giving careful consideration to these three factors, we can select the voice we hope will be most effective for the specific situation. The conscious decision you make about tone could be one of the most important choices you make about your writing.


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

From → Writing

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