Setting the Tone

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog and twitter lately (I’ve been posting lots of photos on facebook, but that’s mainly because we’ve been away from home, staying in a caravan, and the beach and country scenery is really quite lovely and must be shared :))

There’s pretty much no internet where we are staying… so my work (both day job and writing) must be done in snatches of time in cafes and the library – and not having the access in the afternoons and evenings means there is much time for thought. Especially when rain is battering off the roof!

One of the things I hoped to achieve during our time here (two months, from mid-August to mid-October) is to complete the first draft of my second novel (a standalone story that after a few false starts, feels like the one I *have* to write now…) And although the physical setting is working well for prolific writing, I am struggling with something more technical…

I can’t get the tone right.

I wrote almost 6,000 words – and when I read it back, I felt that my main character’s voice was too ‘light’ for what was going on, and for what was about to happen… so then I wrote on past the 6k, changing to first person POV and a darker mood, trying to see if I could dig deeper and get the creepy feeling I was hoping for… now she just sounds miserable! So I am going back to the end of the 6k, and I’m going to re-write the the next bit in the original way… I’m hoping that once the bad stuff starts to happen, the sunny disposition of my main character will disappear quick sharp… and as I keep writing on, these things will sort themselves out (when I am further into the story – which I have outlined, and have many notes for, but still leaving plenty of room for manoeuvre…)

Does anyone else suffer like this when starting out on a new piece of work? Would love to hear your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “Setting the Tone

  1. This reminds me of when you read through my tiny tale, Matilda, which I knew wasn’t right, and you said, what about the tense, how about bringing it into the present moment? And in doing so, she completely came out of her shell, AND I managed to bring the shock I wanted into it! Maybe consider that. Creating a tone could also be about setting, maybe more description, or character POV on how she feels about her location. I thought about this when I read The Secret of Crickley Hall, as James Herbert set up such a creepy, sinister tone for the whole novel and I thought about how he had achieved that, when the story itself was fairly straight forward. Maybe a bit of research reading! xx

    • Hi Miranda – well… we think along the same lines I think 🙂 I did consider changing it to present tense and I wasn’t sure it would work, but I am going to try a little bit now, because – your ‘research reading’ is spot on, actually – I always do this – when I get an idea, I look at other books that I think have the right feel, and I try to see how they have done it and what I can do to get the tone I am after. Crickley Hall is a good one, and I actually just popped into a bookshop after reading your comment earlier to re-read a few pages. I also picked up a few others while I was there, and I think I have some ideas of how to fix things… however, I do think that it will evolve as I go. There was one book that I looked at that I know is quite dark, but the first few pages are quite light – and this helped me clarify things a bit… so thank you!! 🙂

  2. One of my betas once pointed out they could always see what my protagonist was feeling but couldn’t always put their finger on what she was thinking…changing that helped. Good luck with finding the tone!

    • Thanks Lisa – that really made me think! Definitely something to bear in mind – getting the balance right between those two things, as well as the more obvious things like POV and description 🙂

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