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What is Tone?

One of the elements of writing that a writer should always consider when writing is the tone of their work. The tone is important for both writers in the fiction and nonfiction genre. What is tone then? What do you know about tone? We will get started with its definition.

The definition of tone

Tone refers to the attitude of a writer to the subject or topic they are addressing. Tone can also be the attitude of a writer toward his or her audience. This especially explains the role of a tone in a literary work. The writer uses tone to make his or her audience feel a particular way about the subject or topic he or she is addressing. Tone is more about what the writer intends his or her audience to feel and less about what the writer feels about the subject or topic they are addressing.

The difference between tone and mood

Most writers are likely to have a hard time distinguishing the difference between tone and mood. They both have almost the same effect on the reader. In fact, tone sets the mood of a literary work. The words used to describe the tone of a literary work can also be used to describe the mood. While tone deals with the writer’s attitude towards his work, the mood deals with the atmosphere of the work or the emotions evoked by the work. For instance, a joyful tone sets a cheerful mood in a literary work; a cheerful tone can also set a joyful mood.

Examples of words used to describe tone

























How to use or set the tone in a literary work

Use appropriate words

In the literary world, words are the most important tools of communication. The writer, therefore, has to pay close attention to his or her words to give his or her work the desired tone. Using words such as angry, sad, agony, and painful would not be appropriate for a happy tone.

Be specific about the tone you want to put in your work

You should be sure and specific about the tone you want your work to have. This will help you know or identify the appropriate words to use to set your desired tone.

The importance of tone

Tone helps the writer to connect with his or her audience

The writer can connect with his or her audience through the use of tone. The reader will be able to feel the writer’s frustration, fear, anger, sympathy, or joy of the writer on the subject being addressed. This will in turn make the reader connect with the writer emotionally.

Tone helps to emphasize an idea, subject, or topic in a literary work

When used effectively, tone can help the writer to emphasize his idea, subject, or topic of concern. For instance: a joyful tone will translate the writer’s acceptance of the idea he or she is addressing to the reader. A sad tone will translate his rejection to the subject of concern. This in turn emphasizes the importance or irrelevance of the subject of concern to the reader.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya