Describing voices accurately in writing can transform your story or screenplay, giving your characters depth and making them feel real to your readers.
Here is how to describe voices in writing:
Describe a voice in writing by identifying elements like tone, pace, timbre, volume, and accent. Use adjectives for depth or speed. Consider the voice’s emotional state, age, and physical circumstance. Create a better reading experience by differentiating the voices in your story.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to describe voices in writing.
How To Describe Voices in Writing (The Elements You Need To Know)
To portray voices effectively in writing, it’s crucial to grasp the various elements that constitute a voice.
Let’s delve into some of these vital components:
The tone of a voice reveals the emotional undercurrents beneath the words spoken
It’s not just what the character says, but how they say it that provides context and clues to their emotional state.
Tone can encompass a wide range of emotions, from sarcasm and anger to affection and impatience.
For instance, a character’s voice can drip with venom in their anger, quaver in their anxiety, or soften in their affection.
Example: “His tone dripped with scorn as he responded to her, his words carrying an edge sharper than a sword.“
Example: “Her voice softened, the gentle lilt carrying a tender affection that warmed the room.“
The pace or speed of a character’s speech can reveal much about their personality, mood, and state of mind.
A character speaking at a fast pace might indicate excitement, anxiety, or impatience.
In contrast, a slow-speaking character might come across as more contemplative, calm, or possibly confused.
Example: “His words tumbled out in a fast-paced torrent, echoing the racing thoughts within his mind.“
Example: “She spoke slowly, her measured pace reflecting the weight of her words.“
Timbre is the unique quality or texture of a voice that differentiates it from others.
It adds color and depth, making a voice sound velvety, gravelly, husky, or raspy. Timbre can convey a voice’s warmth or harshness, and sometimes, it can even provide a physical feeling to the listener.
Example: “His voice had a gravelly timbre, reminiscent of rocks grinding together.“
Example: “Her voice was velvety, a soft timbre that felt like a warm blanket on a cold night.“
The volume at which a character speaks can provide insight into their emotional state, intentions, or personality traits.
A loud voice can indicate excitement, anger, or an attempt to dominate, while a soft voice might suggest shyness, secrecy, or gentleness.
Example: “Her voice was a barely audible whisper, as if sharing a precious secret.“
Example: “His voice thundered across the room, demanding attention from all.“
How To Describe Specific Types of Voices in Writing
In this section, we’ll cover how to describe many different types of voices in writing.
Sometimes you want to describe the voice of a man or woman or child. Other times, you might want to describe a deep, high-pitched, or melodious voice.
Keep reading to find out how (with examples).
How to Describe Male Voices in Writing
Male voices, typically lower in pitch, can be described with a variety of adjectives, such as deep, gravelly, husky, or rough.
Physical reactions can also enhance the description.
Example: “His voice, like a bass drum, resonated in her chest, leaving her with a strange fluttering sensation.“
Example: “The velvety texture of his voice was soothing, lulling her into a state of tranquillity.“
How to Describe Female Voices in Writing
Female voices often have a higher pitch and can be portrayed as soft, melodic, shrill, or husky. By integrating the character’s emotional state, you can add nuance to the voice description.
Example: “Her voice was like a flute, high and melodious, filling the room with a lively cheer.“
Example: “Her husky voice carried a distinct warmth, wrapping around him like a comforting embrace.“
How to Describe a Deep Voice in Writing
A deep voice can portray a range of characters and moods, from authoritative figures to comforting allies or menacing villains.
Deep voices can be described as resonant, rumbling, or sonorous.
Example: “His deep voice rolled over her like a wave, carrying an authority that demanded respect.“
Example: “His voice was a low rumble, like distant thunder, carrying an underlying threat.“
How to Describe a Fast Voice in Writing
A fast voice can suggest a range of emotions and personalities, from anxiety and excitement to impatience.
Descriptions can include words like rushed, hurried, or jabbering.
Example: “His words were a rapid-fire barrage, revealing his barely controlled excitement.“
Example: “She jabbered quickly, her words bouncing around the room in her nervousness.“
How to Describe a Loud Voice in Writing
A loud voice can portray dominance, excitement, or panic. It can be described as booming, deafening, or blaring.
Example: “His booming voice echoed in the room, a loud proclamation of his dominance.“
Example: “Her voice was a deafening roar, mirroring the chaos and panic she felt within.“
How to Describe a Soft Voice in Writing
A soft voice can indicate a variety of moods, including gentleness, fear, or mystery.
Descriptions can include words like hushed, whispering, or murmuring.
Example: “His voice was a soft murmur, a soothing balm over her frayed nerves.“
Example: “Her whispering voice held a note of mystery, a secret waiting to be unveiled.“
How to Describe a Singing Voice in Writing
A singing voice can encapsulate a range of emotions, from sheer joy to profound sorrow.
Descriptions can include words like harmonious, melodious, lilting, or crooning.
Example: “His voice, a melodious baritone, wove a rich tapestry of sound, filling the air with a soulful melody.“
Example: “Her lilting voice danced through the air, each note a joyous celebration of life.“
How to Describe a Crying Voice in Writing
A crying voice, often deeply emotional, can be portrayed as choked, sobbing, wailing, or whimpering.
Example: “His voice came out in choked sobs, the pain apparent in each word.“
Example: “Her whimpering voice was heart-rending, each cry echoing her despair.“
How to Describe a High-Pitched Voice in Writing
A high-pitched voice can contribute to various character portrayals, from bubbly and enthusiastic personalities to those filled with fear or anxiety.
This voice type can suggest youth, as younger individuals often have higher-pitched voices, or perhaps someone who is excited or scared.
Descriptions might include words like squeaky, shrill, or piercing.
Example: “Her voice was a shrill siren, each word piercing the air like a needle.“
Example: “His voice, high and squeaky, was filled with unabashed enthusiasm, like a child on Christmas morning.“
How to Describe a Nasal Voice in Writing
A nasal voice, where the sound seems to resonate from the nose rather than the mouth or throat, can be an interesting trait for a character.
This can be used to emphasize a character’s comical, annoying, or unique personality.
Descriptions might include words like twangy, whiny, or braying.
Example: “His voice had a nasal twang, each word sounding like it was squeezed out of a tight space.“
Example: “Her voice was a nasal whine, a sound that grated on their nerves.“
How to Describe a Raspy Voice in Writing
A raspy voice, rough and hoarse, can suggest a character’s age, health, or emotional state.
This type of voice can denote an old or weary individual, someone who’s been shouting or crying, or perhaps someone who’s ill.
It can be described as hoarse, gravelly, or scratchy.
Example: “His voice was a gravelly rasp, a testament to the many years he’d weathered.“
Example: “Her voice emerged as a hoarse whisper, the aftermath of hours spent in tearful conversation.“
How to Describe an Emotionless Voice in Writing
An emotionless or monotone voice can reveal a lot about a character’s mindset or state of being.
This can denote someone who’s indifferent, in shock, or emotionally withdrawn. It could also be a character who’s pragmatic or analytical in nature. Descriptions can include words like flat, lifeless, or monotonous.
Example: “His voice was flat, void of any emotion that might betray his thoughts.“
Example: “Her voice held a monotonous drone, a dull sound that mirrored her detached demeanor.“
How to Describe a Whispering Voice in Writing
A whispering voice is soft and hushed, often used when a character wants to convey a secret or speak without being overheard.
It can also be indicative of fear, romance, or intimacy.
Words to describe a whispering voice might include hushed, muted, or breathy.
Example: “His voice was a hushed whisper in the dark, a gentle brush against her ear that sent shivers down her spine.“
Example: “Her whispering voice was barely audible, carrying an air of secrecy that tingled his curiosity.“
How to Describe a Melodious Voice in Writing
A melodious voice often has a musical quality, whether the character is singing or speaking.
It’s the type of voice that’s pleasant to hear, often used to describe a character who is charming or soothing.
Descriptions might include words like musical, harmonious, or lyrical.
Example: “Her voice was harmonious, each word a distinct note that composed a beautiful symphony.“
Example: “His voice was a lyrical song, the soothing melody washing over her like a gentle tide.“
How to Describe a Bellowing Voice in Writing
A bellowing voice is loud and resonant, often used when a character is yelling or expressing strong emotions like anger or excitement.
It can also convey a sense of authority or power.
Words to describe a bellowing voice might include booming, roaring, or thunderous.
Example: “His voice bellowed across the battlefield, a roaring command that rallied the troops.“
Example: “Her voice boomed through the lecture hall, an authoritative echo that demanded attention.“
How to Describe a Child’s Voice in Writing
A child’s voice is typically high-pitched and clear, often reflecting innocence, excitement, or curiosity.
Depending on the child’s age, their voice might have a lisping or stammering quality.
Descriptions might include words like squeaky, clear, lisping, or stammering.
Example: “His voice, high and clear, was filled with the infectious excitement that only a child could muster.“
Example: “Her voice was a soft squeak, a lisping sound that underscored her tender years.“
How to Describe an Elderly Voice in Writing
An elderly voice can reflect the wisdom and experiences of a lifetime.
Depending on the character’s health and vitality, their voice might be strong and clear or frail and quavering. Descriptions might include words like quavering, frail, shaky, or wise.
Example: “His voice was shaky, a fragile echo of the robust sound it once was.“
Example: “Her voice held a wise and steady tone, the weight of years echoing in each word.“
How to Describe a Smooth Voice in Writing
A smooth voice often conveys a sense of calm, elegance, or seductiveness.
It can suggest a character who is self-assured, sophisticated, or soothing.
Descriptions might include words like velvety, silky, or soothing.
Example: “His voice was velvety smooth, each word a gentle caress that soothed her worries.“
Example: “Her silky voice flowed through the room, like a comforting balm over their tired souls.“
How to Describe a Strained Voice in Writing
A strained voice is often used when a character is under emotional or physical distress.
It can suggest pain, anxiety, or exertion. Descriptions might include words like tight, tense, or choked.
Example: “His voice was tense, the strain betraying his efforts to maintain composure.“
Example: “Her voice came out in a choked whisper, each word a battle against the tears welling up in her eyes.“
How to Describe a Crackling Voice in Writing
A crackling voice often indicates age, nervousness, or emotional instability.
This can be used to describe a character going through puberty, an elderly character, or a character in a highly emotional state.
Descriptions might include words like breaking, unsteady, or wavering.
Example: “His voice was breaking, each word wavering as if treading on unstable ground.“
Example: “Her voice crackled like dry leaves underfoot, the years etched into every syllable.“
How to Describe a Stern Voice in Writing
A stern voice usually conveys authority, seriousness, or disapproval.
This voice type could be used to describe a parent, a boss, or anyone in a position of power.
Descriptions might include words like harsh, firm, or forbidding.
Example: “His voice was harsh, a stern command that left no room for argument.“
Example: “Her firm voice echoed her resolve, a testament to her unyielding stance.“
How to Describe a Gentle Voice in Writing
A gentle voice often suggests kindness, warmth, or care.
It’s typically associated with characters who are compassionate, patient, or soothing. Descriptions might include words like soft, warm, or tender.
Example: “His voice was soft, each word a gentle caress that calmed her restless heart.“
Example: “Her voice held a tender warmth, a soothing melody that eased their worries.“
Descriptive Words for Voices in Writing
The table below includes 30 types of voices and a collection of unique descriptive words for each type.
I hope it provides a handy reference for writers seeking to add depth and nuance to their character portrayals.
|Types of Voices||Descriptive Words|
|Deep Voice||Resonant, Rumbling, Sonorous, Bass, Thunderous, Rich, Guttural, Baritone, Mellow, Gravely|
|Fast Voice||Rapid, Jabbering, Swift, Quick, Hurried, Galloping, Speedy, Fleeting, Rattling, Darting|
|Loud Voice||Booming, Deafening, Blaring, Thundering, Clamorous, Noisy, Roaring, Piercing, Resounding, Bellowing|
|Soft Voice||Hushed, Whispering, Murmuring, Gentle, Muted, Soft-spoken, Low, Dulcet, Subdued, Faint|
|Singing Voice||Harmonious, Melodious, Lilting, Crooning, Lyric, Musical, Operatic, Tuneful, Serenading, Choral|
|Crying Voice||Choked, Sobbing, Wailing, Whimpering, Sniveling, Tearful, Mournful, Weeping, Bleating, Sorrowful|
|High-Pitched Voice||Squeaky, Shrill, Piercing, Treble, Soprano, Tintinnabulating, Sharp, Falsetto, Squawky, Tinny|
|Low-Pitched Voice||Bass, Grumbling, Husky, Gruff, Stentorian, Sultry, Rumbling, Growly, Drone, Bassy|
|Nasal Voice||Twangy, Whiny, Braying, Resonant, Honking, Grating, Snuffling, Sniffy, Snorting, Nasally|
|Raspy Voice||Hoarse, Gravelly, Scratchy, Throaty, Husky, Rough, Coarse, Gritty, Cracked, Gargling|
|Emotionless Voice||Flat, Lifeless, Monotonous, Deadpan, Toneless, Unexpressive, Dull, Apathetic, Listless, Unemotional|
|Whispering Voice||Hushed, Muted, Breathy, Quiet, Murmuring, Soft-spoken, Mumbling, Rustling, Murmurous, Sibilant|
|Melodious Voice||Tuneful, Musical, Dulcet, Harmonic, Euphonious, Lyric, Rhythmic, Sweet-sounding, Chiming, Symphony-like|
|Bellowing Voice||Booming, Roaring, Thunderous, Deafening, Clamorous, Resounding, Stentorian, Blaring, Yelling, Resonant|
|Child’s Voice||Squeaky, Clear, Lisping, Stammering, High-pitched, Innocent, Tiny, Sweet, Small, Youthful|
|Elderly Voice||Quavering, Frail, Shaky, Wise, Tremulous, Aged, Weak, Feeble, Old, Croaky|
|Smooth Voice||Velvety, Silky, Soothing, Fluid, Glossy, Supple, Flowing, Even, Slick, Lush|
|Strained Voice||Tight, Tense, Choked, Stressed, Rigid, Pressured, Hard, Tough, Struggling, Strained|
|Crackling Voice||Breaking, Unsteady, Wavering, Faltering, Stammering, Spluttering, Shaky, Fluctuating, Quivering, Flickering|
|Stern Voice||Harsh, Firm, Forbidding, Severe, Gruff, Rigid, Austere, Strict, Grating, Steely|
|Gentle Voice||Soft, Warm, Tender, Mild, Caring, Kind, Delicate, Sweet, Lullaby-like, Comforting|
|Anxious Voice||Nervous, Worried, Apprehensive, Hesitant, Uneasy, Shaky, Flustered, Quivering, Fretful, Jittery|
|Cheerful Voice||Happy, Joyous, Excited, Upbeat, Energetic, Sunny, Lively, Jolly, Bubbly, Giggly|
|Serious Voice||Grave, Sober, Solemn, Staid, Steady, Earnest, Severe, Somber, Stolid, Deadpan|
|Flirty Voice||Sultry, Smooth, Enticing, Tempting, Alluring, Inviting, Provocative, Tantalizing, Coaxing, Hypnotic|
|Commanding Voice||Authoritative, Dominating, Assertive, Powerful, Imperative, Strong, Compelling, Firm, Direct, Decisive|
|Timid Voice||Meek, Shy, Hesitant, Uncertain, Submissive, Apprehensive, Nervous, Quiet, Mousy, Reserved|
|Bubbly Voice||Vivacious, Excitable, Lively, Animated, Sparkling, Effervescent, Enthusiastic, Jolly, Chirpy, Energetic|
|Sassy Voice||Cheeky, Bold, Saucy, Brash, Spirited, Brazen, Smart, Impudent, Audacious, Fresh|
|Cold Voice||Icy, Detached, Frigid, Unfeeling, Chilly, Distant, Aloof, Frosty, Stern, Indifferent|
Before you go, here is a good video about how to describe a person’s voice (with audio examples):
Final Thoughts: How to Describe Voices in Writing
By learning to utilize a wide variety of voice descriptions in your writing, you can create a captivating soundscape that enriches your narrative and breathes life into your characters.
Your words can help your readers not only see your characters but also hear them, deepening their engagement with your story.