Seven things I learned from writing and publishing my memoir (Part three - The Tone)

This week is the Queensland Writers Festival and as my tiny contribution, I am writing a post a day in a series called seven things I learned from writing and publishing my memoir. This is part three.

3. Watch your Tone

Whether your book is serious or funny will depend on the tone you use. The tone of your book is a combination of the stories you write, your interpretation of events, and the way you put words together. To some extent the tone of your book will depend on who you are and on your voice as a writer.

How you write can depend on where you are in your life, your education, your life experiences, and your values. It is often a reflection of who you are as a person, but you should still be aware of it.

Is your book full of deep philosophical meaning and thought or is it a light humorous read? Will you dig deep into the reasons why things happened or just pass over them lightly?

Most readers will expect to get to know you by reading your book. You should give readers enough information to feel a connection with you. That may mean talking about your hopes and dreams, or revealing your failings. Allow readers to know you as a person and don’t try to act too perfect or be so modest you sound boring. Readers want to relate to you and can only do so if you are open enough about who you are. My failures are some of the most memorable stories in my books.

Write about yourself as you really are, not as you want to be remembered. It is okay to reveal some weakness. It may even help others relate to your story better.

My books were written to be a light-hearted escapist read. I wanted readers to immerse themselves in the adventure that was my life and hopefully finish the book feeling better about themselves and about the world.
You may have a more measured approach, or want to reveal more inner details and that can work too, as long as you are true to yourself.

When writing, you have to take care of how you come across. Try not to be preachy, condescending, or self-righteous. You can only inject tone by the words you use.

The best way I found to check your tone is to read it out loud as if you were telling the story to a friend, or you could even read it to a friend. Does it set the right tone? If you feel you have to explain anything then you might need to write more. If it seems long winded then cut the story down.

Setting the right tone is just as important in writing as it is in speech.

Tomorrow’s blog: Who is your audience?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much Carol. I did learn so much from writing and publishing my books.


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