When you first start editing your own work you might check your spelling, grammar and punctuation, but some of the first questions that your Editor will ask involve Voice and tone. What exactly do they mean by Voice and tone?
It really is very simple. Just think about your own voice, your speaking voice, barring infirmity or accident we all have one and it is uniquely ours. I imagine that family members can tell you from a relative by voice alone. We recognise each other by voice and our voice can tell the world a great deal about us. Where were we born? Have we travelled? What about education, class, ambition? We all make assumptions about those based on voice. That is our speaking voice.
Now imagine your Writing voice. It is just as uniquely yours and it tells the world about you but instead of pitch and lilt we talk about language choice and phrasing. Your writing voice is the expression of your personality on the page and we make the same assumptions about personality and upbringing from grammatical and language choices.
Now consider Tone. We are all used to the idea of tone of voice and none of us would consider using the same tone with a toddler and with our bank manager. The tone of our voice needs to be appropriate to the situation whether we are speaking or writing. This is why a seasoned editor might raise a question mark over the tone of your writing.
Things become more complex when you introduce characters into your writing. Each of these characters will have a Voice and during the course of your writing several tones. It is the job of the Editor to make sure that the Voices of your characters remain consistent throughout your work. To make sure that they do not slip. Any voice slippage should be marked on your manuscript for correction.
Voice slippage is a very common error in even the most seasoned writer’s work. It usually simply means that instead of responding or writing as our character we have become involved in our work and are writing as ourselves. Easily done.
So as you see, there is no mystery to Voice and a good editor is there to make sure that you never lose yours.