In light of recent posts, I started to really look at tone. As when it comes to writing. Of all the points of writing, I think tone has to be one of the hardest to master. How I may write something, may be misconstrued by the reader. That then lead me to a question. Can informal writing–like blog posts and forums–help strengthen your tone when writing prose?
What got me thinking about this was my conversations with my critic and then how I worded a–now deleted–section of my review.
For my critic, I tried to show him areas of his writing that came off as antagonistic or arrogant. His claim was that he wasn’t being either and just stating facts. Which I can see that it may have been his intention. But the tone with which it was written didn’t read that way. I mentioned to him that it is something I struggle within my own writing, to be clear as possible and watch for those areas that may come off as attacking.
Then, in my review, I stepped all over that struggle and then beat it with a hammer. After being published, I re-read that section of my review and caught just how accusatory and derogatory it sounded. But when I initially wrote it, those feelings were far from my mind.
What causes this? That disconnect?
The first thing that pops into my head is word choice. I really think that is the bulk of it. We have to be diligent about knowing what connotations each word can have. What can be said in person can’t always be transcribed to the written word.
Here is a great example:
Wow, that is stupid.
There are so many different ways we can take that. Which is why I’m thankful for dialogue tags and verbs. They are a huge help in clarifying dialogue. But how can we get that same kind of clarity in a blog post or informal online discussion? Should we all start writing descriptive text around our “dialogue?” That could be kind of fun. Have an entire AIM chat with dialogue tags and descriptive sentences. It would be like role-playing. But with far fewer dice rolls.
Though, I think that is why I am often tempted to use emoticons when typing on the internet. I see them as determinatives in hieroglyphs. A little visual marker to indicate the tone in which the sentence should be read. Which for me, tends to be a lot of smiley faces. Because I am an even keeled person.
But the writer in me is loath to use them in places like a blog post. Even on places like Reddit I am hesitant to use them. Possibly because emoticons are a crutch. If I can’t get my tone across through my words, then I should really rethink how I structured my sentence. And I really hope it is paying off in my formal writing.
Still though, the idea of writing everything as if it’s a novel does sound fun, right? Write.
Jeffrey reread his post and nodded with approval. Yep, he thought, another post that will be viewed by my mother and twelve others.