Voice And Tone In Writing

Voice and Tone In Writing Content

The content you write voices concepts within your content’s confines. (This first sentence demonstrates active voice writing. But, can you imagine reading only in active voice? That could really detract from the tone of your content.) Voice and tone in writing content moves the story/content along. A mix between active and passive voice works well to bring balance to what you write.

Voice And Tone In Writing Moves Content Along

When you write actively, your content’s narrative “speaks” in the present tense. Active voice writing constructs sentences the way a news reporter dramatically witnesses and describes each subject’s action in a story or content piece.

Exercise: Imagine being a news reporter. Impersonally describe as an observer the content you are about to write. Use adjectives, nouns and verbs as you sculpt your piece.  What do you see in your mind or with your own eyes? Include the feelings aspect of what you see. This helps you identify different voices you can effectively use in your content.

For copywriters, the voice and TONE of your content takes on specific life attitudes and viewpoints designed to add value to your target market’s life. These mindset focuses can affect and influence reader behaviors to take certain actions. As a copywriter, focus on how you can help a prospect see the benefit of change to achieve a goal preferred by your ideal audience.

For fiction writers, by using active and passive writing, you can change character voice and tone in different places. This shows the reader the different natures, behaviors, beliefs, etc. of each character. By varying active and passive writing, you can change a character’s identity, mood, motivations, etc.


Barney tried quietly creeping through the minefield of toys while his squeaking shoes gave each step’s position away.

“I love you, Sarah …”

“You stink!”

When writing in an active voice, the subject (Barney, I and you respectively) performs the action of the verb (creeping, love, stink). In each example, notice the sentence brevity? Active writing succinctly and clearly reveals who’s doing which action.

Writing actively, writers can show character behavior changes/variations happening in the present moment.  For copywriters, your active, engaging, persuasive, non-fiction writing keeps interested prospect’s engaged, wanting to learn more.

It is necessary to create a mix of active and passive voice in your writing. A balance of both voices creates story or marketing copy balance. Just as you don’t say the same thing repeatedly every moment of every day, neither do people in life situations only use one voice and tone during life conversations.

For copywriting, focus on how your copy reveals added value to the prospect to improve life quality. For fiction writing, vary voice and tone between passive and active voice to show differences in story scenes that move the story along.

The balance between the mixed active and passive voice and voice tone leads to creating BELIEVABLE content. When readers believe what you write, they keep reading because they RELATE to what’s happening.

Passive Voice Tone in Writing

When writing in a passive voice, the content shows the subject being acted upon typically in a passive, past tense way.  You can usually identify passive voice with past tense writing mechanics such as:

  • Was
  • Were
  • Is
  • Will be
  • Has
  • Has been
  • Had been

For copywriters, passive voice content can stop or pause the flow of your copy. However, it can be appropriate to use passive voice so the reader reflects on being without something that can improve a situation. Copywriters use passive voice for specific reasons. Know what you want your copy to do before you choose to use passive voice.

For fiction writers, imagine a character recalling a past memory. Talking about the past, your characters may be reflecting on an idea that brings out a specific character aspect that moves the story forward. If you use passive voice and tone in writing for your story, also consider how your character would use reflecting on the past. To stay stuck in an emotional story moment for some reason? To get motivated and stop whining like a spoiled brat to keep moving forward for a certain reason? To show that things are already better for the character compared to where he/she was in the past similar situation?

For whatever reason you decide to use passive voice and tone in writing, in most cases, you add excess and perhaps unnecessary words. Often, excess words simply wind up slowing down the pace of your story, too. If that’s your intention, then passive voice and tone may be appropriate.

So, understand the difference between voice and tone in writing. Use it purposely to keep content on track toward a preferred content direction or destination.