Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
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Definition of word.


Tone is the feeling conveyed by the author towards his subject.  Tone should not be confused with the emotional expressions of characters referenced or of witnesses cited.  Likewise, tone is not to be confused with mood.  Tone springs from the author’s feels as revealed in his writing.

If the tone is not evident, the tone is regarded as neutral or impartial.  (In truth, authors generally write upon subjects that they feel are important and about which they hold intellectual presuppositions and feelings of approval or disapproval.)  Impartiality is expected from authors of certain types of writings:  financial reports, scientific reviews, judicial rulings, history books, news articles, etc. 

Tone may be communicated directly or indirectly.  Indirectly, tone is evidenced by the connotations of the words selected by the author.  Euphemistic words (or, pejorative terms) are positive, agreeable, or kind variations; dysphemistic words (or, laudative terms) are negative, disagreeable, or unkind variations.  For example, a child born from an adulterous relationship might be called a love child or a bastard child.  To illustrate further, the American Civil War was referred to as the War of the Rebellion by Northerners and as the War of Northern Aggression by Southerners.

Tone may be indirectly conveyed by how the author portrays the hero and the villain.  An author, who is spiteful against Christianity, might cast the antagonist as a preacher and the protagonist as a pro-evolutionary scientist.  Historians subtly convey tone by the convenient omission or embellishment of events.  New reporters slip their own personal partisanship into their articles by similar methods.

In the Bible, some authors clearly convey their intense love for their ideas and audiences.  The apostle Paul communicated intense feelings: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears ... that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you” (2Co. 2:4).  The historical narratives (e.g., 1 Kings) hold a near impartial tone by unemotionally stating facts.

See author's purpose and author's point of view to learn more.

Author: Allen B. Wolfe

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.