Last week I’d intended on rushing enthusiastically into the second half of my edits, and then I realized, after staring at the same section for way too long, that this just wasn’t gonna happen. My brain, apparently, didn’t want to be an editor; it wanted a different kind of stimulation. So despite my intentions, I took a week-ish break from actively editing the story and just thought about some things.
I kind of feel like I need to do this at least for every 50K words or so that I go through because that’s a lot to focus on continuously when you’re making changes beyond line edits. Stepping back every so often to see the big picture helps to keep things in perspective.
So as I was looking back at the changes I’d made so far, I noticed something about the tone I’ve been using: at the beginning I tried to keep things very light and whimsical, but then by the halfway point it’d become considerably more matter-of-fact and blunt. (And I think I didn’t notice this until now because it happened so gradually.) Suddenly things are really serious–a fact which has made it increasingly more difficult for me to edit and rewrite certain areas.
Tone & Emotion
I don’t really like to write serious stuff; deep down I prefer to be silly, to be honest, so if I’m required to write something serious it takes more effort than writing something that is more lighthearted. Emotionally, it takes a toll on me because I strongly empathize with everything I put my characters through. (I imagine this isn’t too uncommon with writers, though. Especially women. I was reading one author’s blog one day and she talked a bit about how sometimes she needs a break from writing from a certain character’s perspective; she finds it depressing, just due to the nature of the character. So she’s now experimenting more with changing POVs.)
I wasn’t sure why this happened at first, the change in tone, but then I thought more about it and realized it’s actually a reflection of what’s happening in the story, of what the protagonist is going through: the story’s tone matches the reshaping of her worldview. For some reason I was kind of disturbed by this realization, actually. I mean, do I want to have her views influenced, and in what way? (I’m sounding like an overprotective mother or something now.) This can’t really be helped, of course, ’cause people’s views are influenced all the time when they step beyond what they know, but I can control how the protagonist reacts to those influences.
In any case, this is really making me consider my ending again to ensure it gives off the right message for the established story and character progression. I recall fellow blogger and writer Mark Andrew Edwards musing about something similar not long ago, on consciously thinking about the messages being communicated in one’s story. (I don’t necessarily think a story’s ending has to be uplifting and entirely likable, but it should be intentional–or rather unexpected yet inevitable, as they say.)
Ultimately, this project has not just been a huge learning experience but also a meditative one. Writing stories isn’t just about putting words on the page and getting ideas across to readers; it’s also about engaging them–mentally and, even, emotionally. Personally I feel I get more out of storytelling experiences when they accomplish all of these things, and sometimes I feel gypped when they don’t. Though, it really depends on the kind of story, as well. For most adult literature, however, those are my expectations, so I hope to meet them with this project in the end.
Do you find it easier to write in certain kinds of tones more than others?
If so, which ones, and why?