Monday, February 21, 2011

Setting in Tone

Style, Tone, Distinction...

As with any project, the ability to find distinction for a narrative lies in the assemblage of elements and how they are woven together. Where a rising wave of events can sweep up the reader and the style of the story can enhance the characters to provide distinction, the tone of a narrative can determine if that first chapter is finished.

The tone of a narrative is at its very essence the attitude of the project. An attitude that is reflected in prose, setting and even the thoughts of characters.

Prose is set in such a manner to reflect near perfect grammar and eloquent phrasing that can easily be consumed by an audience. Often overlooked is the attitude with which the prose is crafted. The words may be right, the grammar perfect but how is the message said? Is there a cynical undertone to the prose? A tired exposition? The tone of a narrative not only reflects the story but the creator's attitude towards the project.

Narrative tone can also be reflected in the thoughts of the characters. It becomes more than crucial to understand the psychology of the characters within the narrative. How a character views their world can set the entire tone for a scene or narrative. The attitudes of characters reflect the premise and their situation. When a characters' attitude is derived from the the creators concept and not the psychology it detracts for the audience.

While the attitude of author and character needs to reflect the premise of the narrative, the actual settings within the narrative can further the tone. Whether a constant rain or thunderstorm each can be symbolic of a dark tumultuous premise. Abandoned buildings can reflect sadness, isolation and  stress. Every setting within the narrative reflects the tone as a psychological element.

Every narrative is reflected in the creators' tone, their attitude. It is within that tone an audience can decide to keep reading or drop the story.


Jill Kemerer said...

Where are you finding these amazing, decrepit photos?? Love 'em!

One of my critique partners has this gift with weather. She can invoke a tone with the simplest elements--but it's not easy to do. She's amazing!

Michele Shaw said...

Agree with Jill. Love the photo! Hitting just the "right" tone is the key, isn't it? So difficult, but when we hit it, reading fireworks! Great post!

PW.Creighton said...

Thanks for the comments Jill and Michele! The photo is called Urban Decay Photography awesome shots out there and I can't wait to get out there when it warms up to get some shots myself. As for tone it certainly is, I think the overlooked portion is how the author's attitude towards the story is reflected.

Jenna St. Hilaire said...

Excellent post on tone. This isn't something I see talked about much, but I think it's a lot of what agents and editors are speaking of when they say they're looking for a fresh voice. Narration is never a blank thing--it's always shaped by the mind of the narrator, and that's what makes it interesting.

PW.Creighton said...

Thank you for the comment Jenna. Yes, it certainly is and if an author is bored, tired or mad it shows through the writing. The choice of setting, prose and attitude affect the way others see it, especially agents.

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