Set the Tone - My Novel Writing Process

I knew what type of tone I wanted based on some of my favorite books. This is something you have to decide before you begin investing too much time into research and writing.


Ananya Vahal, MFA

3 years ago | 3 min read

I hope you found my previous blog useful with all the resources and tips I provided for research. In this blog, I will talk about how I developed the voice or tone for my novel. 

In my previous blog, I talked about how much research went into this novel. Before I jumped into too much research, I made sure to write at least a part of a chapter or two to explore the topic, build the main character(s), and set the tone I wanted for this book. 

If you know me as a writer, you know that I believe humor to the highest form of art. I love writing humor. I wanted my novel to have an overall lighter humorous or fun tone with some deep, dark parts. I was going for a slightly quirky or snarky tone. I didn’t want my novel to be too heavy or serious. I prefer to leave the heavy serious writing for my memoir. 

So, I knew what type of tone I wanted based on some of my favorite books. This is something you have to decide before you begin investing too much time into research and writing. 

The next question was, is this tone appropriate for the kind of story I want to tell? In addition to a light fun, sometimes snarky tone, I also wanted an element of mysticism in my novel. To contrast this fun mystical tone, I wanted some of my characters to be super pragmatic in their personality and voice. I felt that it would add to the humor and lightness of the tone. I did in fact already have characters like this in my story. The humor and mysticism would contrast well with a serious pragmatic character. This was also a story of self discovery that had a series of crazy or tragic events, but wasn’t just focused on just the tragedy. So, I thought I could apply this tone to my story quite well.

Now that I was sure what type of tone I wanted and that it would work well for the type of story I was telling and the characters I was developing, I needed to practice. When I begin a writing project, I prefer to begin writing by hand in a notebook before I type anything up on a computer.

This is something that is personal to me so I’m not saying it works for everyone. I have noticed that especially when it comes to my voice and my tone, writing by hand is very helpful for me. So, I wrote parts of my first two chapters using the same tone. I wrote two different characters using the same tone. 

I knew the voice and tone I was using to write this story was working because I was having fun writing! Sometimes it’s just that simple. If you’re not having fun writing what is supposed to be a fun story, then do you think your readers are going to have fun reading it? This applies to serious writing as well.

I am often in tears as I write my serious memoir essays. If you don’t feel emotionally involved in your writing, then your reader won’t either. Your voice or tone is often the most important tool in creating that emotional connection.

After I wrote the samples of those two chapters, I put them away for over a year as I dove into research and outlining the story. When I was ready to begin writing, I went back to those chapters and read them to remind myself of the voice and tone I created for this novel. As I read those chapters, I found myself smiling and feeling the same emotional connection I felt when I wrote them over a year ago.

I knew this tone would be perfect and I was so grateful to have written those samples so long ago because now I could just pick up telling the story where I left off in the same tone of voice. I had a place to start.

This is how I developed the voice and set the tone for my novel. Now that I am in the revision stage, I am even more grateful for the tone I picked because re-reading each chapter multiple times can get tedious. At least I still feel the emotional connection and get some laughs as I do so. 

In my upcoming blogs, I will share more of my process with you and, soon, I will introduce you all to my characters. I would also love to hear about your experiences and suggestions that could make this journey more fun and interesting for me. Feel free to leave comments below or contact me personally through this website. 

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Stay tuned for more #browngirlwrites blogs. Next blog: “Just Write!”

Until then…

Happy Writing! :)


Created by

Ananya Vahal, MFA

I am a writer. My genres include creative nonfiction, digital content, and comic books. Check out my work at







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