Finding the Right Tone for Your Christian Nonfiction Book

Writing tone is an afterthought when writing a book, but it influences how readers connect with your work.


The tone you choose to take in your writing influences the type of writing you produce. For many authors, they know that they know all the things, and they believe this knowledge should be shared, but they never consider in what way to convey the message. The good news is there are many ways to do so. In this article, I’d like to provide a few pointers for finding the best tone to use in your Christian nonfiction book.

What Kind of Book Are You Writing?

Before you can consider the tone you will write your book in, you need to decide what type of book you want to write. What I mean by this is choosing the appropriate story structure. According to Blurb, story structure is “the order in which you present the narrative.” Story structure is an important part of both fiction and nonfiction, though the presentation may be slightly different in each type of writing.

Commonly used structures include:

  • Chronological – a story written following the proper order of events
  • Episodic – a collection of stories connected by the same theme or lesson
  • Lived experience – a recollection of the author’s lived experience or the experiences of others (anecdotes) to share lessons
  • Inciting incident – one event in the author’s life that serves as a launching point for a theme, lesson, or source of deep research
  • Foundational concepts – a simple concept that is built on with each chapter
  • Prescriptive – instruction or how-to for a new skill 

In order to determine story structure for your Christian nonfiction book, you will need to consider what journey you want to take your reader on. What new information will you be sharing with them? What is the transformation promise you’ve given your book as it pertains to how your reader will grow and change? Sometimes this isn’t so cut-and-dry. It’s easy for a book idea to fall into more than one of these categories, and that’s okay. But once this is figured out, you’re on the way to uncovering the right tone for your writing.



Choosing the Right Writing Tone

Your writing tone should not be one that you use for the sake of using. It should feel authentic and flow from the most sincere parts of you. Oftentimes, that writing pizzazz isn’t found until you actually put pen (or typing cursor) to paper. Nonetheless, it’s important to have one clear voice that your reader “hears.” I’ve read and provided feedback on manuscripts where there was more than one writing voice present, and if your editor can pick up on it, your reader can, too. Be sure to carefully consider what’s in your level of comfort while being unashamed about pushing your own bounds. You may find the effort truly rewarding. And if you’re struggling to think about tone for your Christian nonfiction manuscript, the following list includes some of the most used.


This book is written in the author’s voice. You may write as if speaking to a friend you converse with on the regular. The manuscript may include some of your special lingo and personality or humor. 


True subject matter experts may feel most comfortable taking on a voice of authority. You may just want to teach your audience and leave the personality out of it. After all, your expertise is important and should be conveyed in that way.


Inspirational writing might be “getting down on your reader’s level.” You understand how they feel, why they’ve picked up this book, and you are there to offer a metaphorical hand to encourage them to keep going.


Flowery tones are perhaps most often seen in creative nonfiction books as they take on elements of storytelling similar to those seen in fiction. We all know some fiction books that are heavy on word embellishment, so the language is grandiose and imaginative. You may have some of that flowery language in you.

When deciding on the perfect tone to take in your book, don’t be afraid to play around. An editor, such as a developmental editor, can even help you identify what type of writing tone is your strength once they do a read through of your manuscript. No matter what writing tone you decide on, make it your own and don’t shy away from it. Your readers will be able to better connect with you as the expert.

P.S. – I don’t offer developmental editing at this time, but I do offer a manuscript evaluation, which is similar to a developmental edit. If you’d like to learn more about this service, click here.

Featured photo by Rahul Shah on Pexels; in-text photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels

Reference: Blurb. “What is story structure?”. Date accessed 2/10/2024.