Finding the right tone

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Welcome to the first Monday in April. The good news is that April 1st was last week, so there is no April fool’s joke. The bad news is that we could all use a good laugh right now and I have no jokes to share with you.

Random quote: When a vessel is empty, you can fill it up and empty it again. Is a vessel ever truly empty?

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk. It’s a bit late because of Easter and procrastination. I’ll try as hard as I did this week to make sure it’s not late again.

Finding the right (write) tone

Writing in the right tone for a new client – or even a current client – can be challenging and frustrating at times. Writers have ideas and styles that don’t always mesh with the client’s ideas and goals. However, there are some relatively simple strategies to help you get the right tone when writing a first draft:

  • Ask the client. They often know their audience better than you will, and the tone required to reach them. This will save the writer a lot of time.
  • Refer to the brand guidelines or style guide. If the client has a style guide, a lot of work and research went into it. Stick to the defined tone.
  • Ask for an example of desired tone. Sometimes, the client won’t know exactly how to describe the tone, but they probably know it when they see it in other work. Check examples and match the tone to them.
  • Ask for an example of what they don’t want. Clients will know what does not work, so the process of elimination will get you closer to what they do want.

What style elements go into defining tone?

  • Point of view = first person (I, we) vs. second person (you) vs. third person (he, she, they)
  • Sentence length
  • Paragraph length
  • Word choice
  • Marketing jargon
  • Em / en dashes
  • Sentence structure

Quick tip: If a client does not like a piece you’ve written, it often comes down to tone. Rewrite a paragraph (rather than the whole piece) in a different tone to get their reaction.

More from The Editor’s Desk

Here are a few articles and blog posts I found worth sharing.


Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is contact@davidgargaro.com. 

David

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