Monday, September 16, 2013
TONE SAYS IT ALL BY RITA KARNOPP
Are you aware of the tone of your story when writing? Do you worry if you have ‘tone’ in your story? Let’s be honest, it can either create interest, or it can kill it.
What exactly do I mean by tone? It’s a great question. There are many terms people use to describe ‘tone.’ You’ve heard them; style, voice, tempo, rhythm, pace, pulse, mood, and so many more and all mean pretty much the same thing. I look at it this way; tone is the author’s attitude toward his characters, whether it is moody, serious, severe, solemn, ominous, foreboding, amused, profound, secret, distressed, wounded, commanding, and it goes on and on.
You can set the ‘tone’ in many ways. If romantic you set the scene with candles, dim lit room, music, and wine. If your ‘tone’ is suspenseful; it’s pitch black, thunder rolls, lightning flashes, branches crack under foot, etc. How about ‘tone’ that is sad’? How about tears, tissues, staring off across a pond, crickets, picture of a loved one who has either passed from cancer or maybe has been murdered?
Do you feel what I’m talking about? The best example I know of explaining tone is in the movie Jaws. Remember the scene where the girl is swimming in the water and the music set the tone of what was to come . . . the ominous score accompanied by the shark pulling her down in three short jerks before the action really begins. That is the ‘tone’ set at its best.
Now we must face it, we don’t have the luxury of using music to set our tone. But we can write tone into our dialog; anger, upset, surprise, fear, anger, nervous, hatred, loving, happiness, etc. The tone your give your character allows the reader to respond.
Tone flaws - The best way to find ‘tone’ flaws in your book is to read it aloud. You will find so many errors in your work if you take the time to read the entire book aloud. I read to my dog – she sits across the back of my neck (ugh – ten pounds gets awfully heavy after a while) but loves my books. You will ‘hear’ awkward sentences. You’ll even hear when it tends to get boring! I’m serious—you’ll hear them.
Tomorrow, let’s talk about some problems with ‘tone’ and how to fix them.