Thursday, March 7, 2013
Tone and voice by Janet Lane Walters
I'm in the process of preparing for a presentation about World Building and was side-tracked or not. Thinking about the Voice and Tone led me to wonder if they were two different things. Often I hear that they are the same thing. I've come to the conclusion they're not.
Voice belongs to the author and is influenced by many things. Where was the author born? Each region of the country has certain words, phrases that creep into vocabulary and find their way into the words the writer puts on paper. So does the way the author was raised. Rich, poor or in between the experiences of the author help define what they write. Their life-experiences can bring another flavor into a writer's voice. How can a person who has never experienced the death of a close person write about death with the deep emotion of one who has. There are other emotions that may or may not be experienced. Then there is education that influences the writer and career choice. So the writer's life goes into his or her writing.
Tone belongs to the story. Each variety of fiction has a specific tone. There are many kinds of YA stories and they span all genres. The writer needs to read many stories in the sub-genre they want to write. Stories with mysteries have a specific flavor and so does fantasy, coming of age, historical, suspense. If the writer doesn't nail the tone and let the reader know this is whatever story they want to read in the first few pages, the reader may put the book aside and not care to read on.
So when writing a story the writer has to look at the kind of story they're writing and discover the tone they wish to evoke. The voice is there since it is part of the writer. The tone is to be discovered.