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I was wondering about tone in articles lately. My articles don't tend to be interactive. It feels like most of them are just flowing one way.

How does actually tone contribute to the quality of an article? How can we write content that could most likely end up in interaction with the reader? Can you please share your experience with building interactive tone in articles? Any pointers would help me.

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I do not understand, what you exactly mean with "interactive tone". Could you provide more details? –  John Smithers Mar 11 '11 at 9:10
    
Depends. What type of articles are you talking of? –  Nerevar Mar 11 '11 at 9:16
    
@Indoril i mostly write tech articles.. –  bhu1st Mar 11 '11 at 12:13

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Tone contributes to quality by establishing the writer's persona for the reader. As others have noted, above, the meaning of "interactive" or "interaction" is hard to determine, because often the terms refer to mechanical attributes of the media you're using. Generally, however, when you want to solicit response and agreement from the audience, you can make your tone less formal and more conversational. Instead of asking, "How would I say this if I were talking to a group of experts?" you might ask, "How would I say this if I were talking to an average person?"

There are different dimensions of "quality" that I think you also want to clarify - the quality of your prose could be understood as the level of craft it displays, the scope of the result it produces, or the sharpness of affect ("affect" refers to the emotional response of the reader, kind of like how the "quality" of a love story is different from a horror film - each produces different emotional responses from the audience). These attributes aren't unrelated, of course: a passionate plea to act may stir a lot of emotions in the reader when it's well-written, but it's also going to be effective when the reader is inspired to action. The language you use within that plea will establish how the audience views you, as a speaker - your persona. How approachable you are depends quite a bit on what strategies you use: do you use contractions and slang, or is the style formal and technical? Do you write as if you want response, or are you telling people how it is? These factors contribute to how welcoming - how interactive - your writing comes off.

Ultimately, if we're just talking about how your prose can be more interactive, you might think about building a more conversational tone. You might worry that a conversational tone won't produce the persona of a technically astute, specialist writer - a persona that builds ethos, or the character of the author. But if a conversational tone produces a higher quality article by building empathy with the reader, we might well say, "the prose is much more effective because the reader sees that interaction between audience and writer is not only possible, but a priority." Then you've established a reader-centered tone, and you encourage response.

If you're talking about tone and interaction by referring explicitly to, say, the mechanical ability of readers to respond with some immediacy to your writing, the above isn't going to be what you're looking for.

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professor, your answer makes a lot sense to me. still i am bit confused about answering the question "Do you write as if you want response, or are you telling people how it is?" can you please check my blog at my profile and suggest me something about my writing style ? Your explanation answers my confusion about "interactive tone", my question should have been about "conversational tone" as you mentioned. thank you so much. –  bhu1st Mar 11 '11 at 18:39
    
still i am bit confused about answering the question "Do you write as if you want response, or are you telling people how it is?" Happy to clarify: you mentioned that you do tech articles, so there's a little difference between being perceived as an expert and offering a recommendation ("this is how it is, and you should listen to me") vs. establishing a conversation ("I have an opinion, what do you think? Let me know!"). There are plenty of places where you'd want to do one as opposed to the other. –  Jason Mar 11 '11 at 19:27
    
professor, i will keep your suggestion in mind the next time i sit down to write something. i will let you know how it turns very soon :) appreciations! –  bhu1st Mar 11 '11 at 20:41

That's not hard at all. Pick up a copy of "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" and read the bits about dialogue. Usually you can massage quotes into that format for a more effective piece.

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The author is looking for article writing advice, not fiction writing advice. –  Ralph Gallagher Mar 12 '11 at 18:50
    
The same principles apply when writing articles and breaking up action and dialogue, real or imagined. –  Caveatrob Mar 12 '11 at 21:20

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