41 Words to Describe a Voice

Photo by Vika Strawberrika on Unsplash

You don’t want to reveal too much about your character in the first chapter. However, I am of the firm belief that if you write an excellent first chapter, the rest of the story will fall into place. Then, when you get into chapter two, you can delve into a character’s background and give little hints to the reader of what they are like in the story’s context.

Even something as simple as describing their voice can set the perfect scene in the mind’s eye of a reader.

It isn’t easy to describe a voice in a story without sounding cliché or overdramatic. So, I thought I would make a list of 41 possible words to describe a voice.

  1. adenoidal
  2. appealing
  3. breathing
  4. brittle
  5. croaky
  6. dead
  7. disembodied
  8. flat
  9. fruity
  10. grating
  11. gravelly
  12. gruff
  13. guttural
  14. high-pitched
  15. hoarse
  16. honeyed
  17. husky
  18. low
  19. matter-of-fact
  20. monotonous
  21. nasal
  22. orotund
  23. penetrating
  24. plummy
  25. quietly
  26. raucous
  27. ringing
  28. shrill
  29. silvery
  30. singsong
  31. small
  32. smoky
  33. strangled
  34. strident
  35. taut
  36. thin
  37. throaty
  38. tight
  39. tremulous
  40. wheezy
  41. wobbly

Stories are made unique by the voices of their authors. The way you tell a story, the words you use, the cadence, the inflection all contribute to the story. Think about the voices of the people in the story as the author. How do they sound? How do they speak? Do you want them to sound like you or someone you know? How do you want them to talk in the tone of the story?

In summary, I found these phrases exciting and will be using some of them in my works. Imagine using “honeyed” instead of “ingratiating.” For example:

“The sound of his honeyed voice made her skin crawl.”

This is the kind of thing that makes for good reading.

I’ll tell you why revision is the best part of writing in your complimentary 15-minute consultation.

Guilliean Pacheco, your friendly neighborhood creativity concierge


Guilliean Pacheco (she/her) is a writer and editor of Filipino heritage and the host of the City of Writers podcast. Her work has appeared in TechTarget, Nevada Humanities, and Helen: A Literary Magazine. She has an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco and is an Anaphora Arts poetry fellow. She’s a misplaced California girl who lives in Las Vegas normally, if one could call living there normal, on Southern Paiute land. Follow her on Twitter.

Use Your Words