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Fine-Tuning Voice and Tone

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Megan Hastings

on 19 September 2013

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Transcript of Fine-Tuning Voice and Tone

So, what tools can we use to let our voices be heard in writing?
Refers to the author’s awareness of who will be reading his or her piece of writing.
Some considerations:
Who are the targeted readers?
How well informed are they on the subject? 
What is the relationship between the writer and the reader?  Employee to supervisor?  Citizen to citizen?  Expert to novice? Author to middle school reader? Student to teacher?  Student to student?
What does the writer want the reader to learn as a result of this piece?
Hospital Room
- Tone Practice
Abstract – Ambiguous – Analytical – Anecdotal – Angry – Austere – Bland – Boring – Cinematic – Classical – Colloquial – Concise – Confessional – Contemptuous – Conventional – Cool – Cynical – Decadent – Derivative – Dreamlike – Dreary – Earthy – Elegaic – Emphatic – Evocative – Experimental – Fashionable – farcical – Fatalistic – Flamboyant – Gimmicky – Heavy – Heroic – Hysterical – Incoherent – Ironic – Irreverent – Journalistic – Juvenile – Lyrical – Melodramatic – Metaphorical – Metaphysical – Minimalist – Monotonous – Mournful – Mystical – Nostalgic – Objective – Obscure – Ominous – Parody – Philosophical – Poetical – Political – Pompous – Pragmatic – Precious – Pretentious – Profound – Psychological – Puritanical – Realistic – Repetitious – Rhythmic – Romantic – Sarcastic – Sardonic – Satirical – Sensuous – Sentimental – Sharp – Stilted – Sophisticated – Stark – Subjective – Subtle – Superficial – Surrealistic – Symbolic – Trite – Urbane – Vague – Venomous – Whimsical – Witty – Wordy
Variety of Voice/Tone:
diction– certain words will convey certain attitudes; denotation/connotation of words

imagery/figurative language- compare: her face lit up like gasoline catching fire or her face lit up like the bright lights of a stage

syntax – short, choppy sentences may make a voice may sound blunt whereas long, fluid one may create a more caring, compassionate attitude

choice of detail (what goes in-how much-and what doesn't)

*All of the above are used to create tone in a work, and the tone affects a character’s/writer's voice.
How does a writer create tone?
the author’s attitude/emotion toward a subject or story; tone is an element of voice

the effect of the writer’s attitude/emotion on the reader; tone creates mood
Voice Tools:
Voice Tools:

How would you describe these voices?

Example 1: I love the heady cruelty of spring. The cloud shows in the first weeks of the season are wonderfully adolescent: "I'm happy!" "I'm mad, I'm brooding." "I'm happy--now I'm going to cry ..." The skies and the weather toy with us, refusing to let us settle back down into the steady sleepy days and nights of winter.

Example 2: I believe I have some idea of how the refugee feels, or the immigrant. Once, I was thus, or nearly so . . . And all the while I carried around inside me an elsewhere, a place of which I could not speak because no one would know what I was talking about. I was a displaced person, of a kind, in the jargon of the day. And displaced persons are displaced not just in space but in time; they have been cut off from their own pasts. ... If you cannot revisit your own origins--reach out and touch them from time to time--you are
for ever in some crucial sense untethered.

Example 3: Privacy in the workplace is one of the more troubling personal and professional issues of our time. But privacy cannot be adequately addressed without considering a basic foundation of ethics. We cannot reach a meaningful normative conclusion about workplace privacy rights and obligations without a fundamental and common understanding of the ethical basis of justice and a thorough understanding of individual and organizational concerns and motivations.
Old-fashioned southern belle or gentlemen
Grandmother or grandfather
Small child
Emo-middle schooler
British rockstar

Choose a scenario: Your character is in the airport...
(1) His/Her flight has been delayed two hours.
(2) He/She has been bumped up to first class

Write a short paragraph in his or her voice reacting to this news.

Be sure to use distinct diction, detail, imagery, and syntax in your paragraph to produce your character's voice.
Practice Tuning Voice
Some Six-trait rubrics describe a writer’s voice as being distinct:  
“as individual as fingerprints.”
Just as we can describe the personalities of our friends, as readers we can describe the personality of a piece of writing.
In many ways, a person can be identified by his/her voice alone.
Style vs. Voice
Now, think if you had to do the same thing, but in your own voice. What nuances of your personality (word choices, detail, description/imagery, and syntax) would shine through the text?
So . . .
Tonight, get started on your
TIB essay (about 1/2 page, or 1-2 paragraphs). Be able to show me your
work on a laptop tomorrow in class. We will
have some workshop time.

As you write, be hyper-aware of how you are conveying your voice (personality) through your diction, details, syntax, imagery, and finally, what tone your piece is written (what emotion do you have regarding the subject? what mood do you want to create for your readers?)
Voice and Tone
in your writing
Full transcript