Wednesday 2 December 2009

Tone in Writing

How do we define tone? We tend to recognise when it has changed. It’s more difficult to pinpoint when it is even and when it is working well. Is it to do with voice? What do we mean by voice, anyway? Is it to do with style? Are these not also equally difficult to define?
There is something about tone that changes according to who is writing for whom and who is speaking to whom. There are so many parallels between speaking and writing. They are both active communication skills – as opposed to the two passive ones – reading and listening. There is also talking which uses an active and a passive skill together. You can argue that listening can be active. Reading can also be proactive and in fact for a writer is it possible to switch off the jabbering editing voice which tells you what you can learn from the writer whose work you are reading? And of course, identifying the tone and how the writer has achieved that tone.
There are so many unknowns. Is it the words that are used, the complexity of the sentences, even the paragraphing that determines tone in writing? Are we talking about an atmosphere created? Is there something to do with rhythms and sounds?
Tone, style, voice, all important. Are they different? Are they the same? Are they related?

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