The Nuances of Voice and Tone


We know that voice and tone are very important in a written text. Every word we choose in every sentence we write will have a nuanced impact on our reader.

No matter the genre or the subject matter, our readers will hear our story and judge our sincerity and intent.

So what does this mean for the writer? It means that we must take care of voice and tone — and say what we really intend to say. Of course this care-full commitment to clarity means a lot of drafting, editing, and redrafting.

Here is a touching expression of how hard one writer worked to find the right voice and tone when composing condolence letters. He writes:

“Each condolence letter ended up taking about three hours to write . . . The cliché would be that the memories poured out, but they didn’t. They required being tweezed out, one at a time. Cliché would also state that the letters required no editing, but of course they did, and I found myself hunched over my computer in familiar fashion, shifting sentences around and removing stray words like I was on deadline, and my editor was breathing down my neck. The process of writing is always the same, whatever the subject, whomever the reader.”

Read the entire New York Times text: The Lost Art of the Condolence Letter By Saul Austerlitz.