Scene Prompt #40: Hey, watch your tone

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Tone is described as the writer’s attitude toward the material. In fiction it might be more helpful to think of it as the narrator’s or point-of-view character’s (POVC) attitude toward the story they’re telling. For example, the narrator’s view of the events might be cynical, satisfied, resigned, resentful, optimistic, wry, sincere, reverent . . .

Have you put much thought into your project’s tone? Some projects have a more cultivated tone than others. You may have more than one POVC, each with their own attitude. (The Poisonwood Bible* comes to mind.) Or your single narrator may have different attitudes toward different aspects of the story–different characters, different plotlines, different timelines–affecting its tone as it shifts. (Pride and Prejudice* comes to mind. The narrator [Austen?] seems to not like Mary Bennett.)

Anyway, think of your story. What’s the narrator’s perspective of the story? What’s her attitude? What tone does she use to convey this attitude?

Pick a scene, any scene–you might even consider a scene you’ve already written–and write or rewrite it from this attitude, using this tone.

If you need help, think of a story you’ve read that has the tone you’re going for and read a few pages. Or put on some music that helps you feel that particular attitude. (Movie scores are good.)


Book that inspired this prompt


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That’s it for me!

How about you? Do you put much thought into tone? What are some of your techniques to get you in the right frame of mind? Tell us in the comments.

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