Narrative Writing: Tone

Narrative Writing: Tone

Understanding the Role of Tone

  • Tone refers to the author’s attitude or feelings towards the subject matter and audience. It’s an aspect of writing that conveys emotion and perspective.
  • In narrative writing, the tone sets the mood of the story. It can create tension, echo a character’s emotions, or cause readers to anticipate certain actions or events.
  • It’s essential to remember that tone can change throughout the narrative. For instance, a story can begin in a light-hearted manner but later shift to a darker tone.

Creating the Tone

  • The tone is developed through careful word choice or diction. The words and phrases selected by the writer can illustrate their emotions towards the characters and events in the narrative.
  • Imagery and figurative language also play a significant role in shaping the tone. These can be used to make the tone more vivid and engaging, and to invoke specific emotions in readers.
  • Sentence structure or syntax can also contribute to the tone. Short, curt sentences may indicate tension or urgency, while longer, flowing ones could denote calmness or contemplation.

Influence of Tone on the Reader

  • The tone can greatly influence how the reader perceives the narrative. A humorous tone can make a story more entertaining, while a somber tone can make it more serious and thought-provoking.
  • A well-established tone can make the reader feel connected with the characters and plot. It can create empathy, anticipation, dread, excitement or any range of emotions in readers.
  • Sudden tone shifts can surprise readers and keep them engaged and curious. Conversely, inconsistent tones without a clear purpose can confuse and disengage readers.

Enhancement and Variation of Tone

  • Varying your tone can enhance the narrative’s overall depth and interest. Different characters’ viewpoints, events or settings can be emphasised with distinct tones.
  • The tone should be consistent with the narrative’s theme. For instance, a suspenseful narrative may require a tone of uncertainty and tension.
  • The writer should consider using contrast as a technique to emphasise the tone — by juxtaposing light against dark, or hope against despair, the desired tone can be accentuated.

The ability to implement, control, and vary tone skilfully is pivotal to effective narrative writing. By understanding and mastering the use of tone, a writer can add depth, engage readers, and bring their narrative to life.