Personal Narrative Tone

The tone is probably the most overlooked element of writing a Personal Narrative. Yet the tone is what will make your story interesting, believable, and readable. You should sound like you’re having a conversation with your audience. This natural tone is what makes your story stand out based on the emotions you want to elicit in the reader. If your story is about something unexpected happening, you want to create a feeling of suspense. If you’re writing a scary story, choose words and a tone that creates some fear.

Make sure your tone matches the story. To decide which tone is appropriate, ask yourself why you’re writing this story and who your audience will be.

Think of tone as the main feeling you want to develop in your audience.

When writing, use your own voice so that you sound like ‘somebody’. Don’t worry about sounding proper and polite if that isn’t how you sound. On the other hand, trying to sound tough, edgy, and angry can just come across as annoying and overdone. Let your writing reflect who you are and how you sound.

Set the tone by describing a character’s mood or emotions without stating them outright. Read this example from the chapter ‘Becoming Tough’ in the book Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

      There, my sisters arranged a fight that was one of those ‘my little brother is tougher than your brother’ fights. A crowd of kids brought the other young kid and me to a phone booth on the street corner and put us both inside the booth so we couldn’t run away. In my mind, I can still see all those faces pressed up against the glass of the phone booth yelling and encouraging us to keep fighting.

The writer puts you inside the phone booth where you are surrounded by a throng of strangers and no way out. You can feel the boy’s fear and know that there’s no choice but to fight back.