Finding a Tone of Voice in your Writing

ToneLots of very distinctive writers are credited with having a real “voice” in their work. Sometimes that’s not a good thing. An overplayed “voice” can be distracting. But used well it’s powerful.

So as not to confuse the term “voice” to mean something to do with dialogue, I often prefer to say this is the “tone” of the work.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking: is tone something you consciously try and apply in your writing, or does it occur naturally?

I think it works well to make a conscious decision to apply a style and tone to your writing. That way you control it, rather than have IT control you and your work. However, once you make the decision to apply a tone, it’s worth putting it to the back of your mind. Try not to overdo it, let it occur naturally. Usually this takes a bit of time, but for a longer piece, it’ll become second nature.

If this isn’t something you’ve ever thought of, a great utility to analyse is the free online Hemingway Editor: Like Hemingway himself, it’s good for stripping out superfluous words but also can draw your attention to “crutch” words, phrases and styling. That way any conscious tone you apply to your voice won’t have too much cliché.