Voice vs. Tone – What’s the Difference?

Along your writing journey, you might have heard the terms voice and tone being used from time to time. Though they might seem pretty straightforward in nature, these two words often cause a bit of confusion.


In today’s blog, we’re going to offer you a breakdown to better explain and differentiate the meanings of voice and tone.

Let’s start with voice.


This is what sets you apart from other writers. It’s your own distinct way of using language, and it’s what helps your personality come through on the page. One way to think of voice is to imagine a singer covering a famous song. In some way, shape or form, they’re going to add their personality to this song.  That personality is the voice in writing.


When writing your book, you want your voice to stand out and create a fun and interesting journey for your reader. A strong voice is going to help make every single word on each page matter. How so? Because a strong voice commands attention, and as an author you want your writing to pique and catch your reader’s attention so that you can build a mutual relationship. That will motivate the reader to keep turning the pages.


In short, your writing voice is just that – your own. Through practice and continually writing, you’ll develop your voice, which will ultimately help set you apart from other writers in your genre.


Now that we have an idea of what voice means in the writing world, it’s time to define tone.

Let’s start with this quick example. As a young child, a parent or an adult likely told you, “Watch your tone” when reprimanding you. This example sheds a lot of light on writing tone. One way to think of tone is to imagine that it’s just another layer of voice.


We already covered that your writing voice is your personality or your personal spin on words. Well, you can think of your writing tone as your mood. In essence, it’s how you approach your words. Your tone can be light and silly, or it could be dark and haunting, for example. Your tone gives context to your voice.


In short, your voice acts as a bridge that connects you to your readers through your writing, and the tone adds depth to those words that live within the binds of your book.


Check back in the coming weeks to learn how to identify and strengthen your writing voice!


Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2016