Musings

[Blog] Keeping the Tone

As evidenced by the Tanner and Miranda stories, I enjoy writing silly hijinks. It’s fun, both for me to write and (hopefully) for you to read. The thing is, I’m also a sucker for huge, epic stories with earth-shattering consequences, and Deep Important Themes. I find one of the two distinctly easier to write than the other, though there’s no doubt that both the best comedic and dramatic stories show an incredible amount of skill. (My own bias in favor of Deep Important Themes is a topic for another day, as is the existence of Dark Gritty Reboots.)

My occasional trouble is that I sometimes forget how to stick to a specific tone. One the one hand, that’s not always a bad thing. If the general mood of a story is a little somber, then a heart-warming scene in the middle of it becomes that much more powerful. Or if the general mood of a particular sequence is fairly light, then ending that sequence by making your characters suffer some sort of defeat can make it even more heartbreaking. Done well, it adds wonderful depth to the whole story and gives it all more meaning. Done poorly, of course, your readers will correctly call it out as a cheap trick or just sloppy writing. Hence my trouble when I accidentally switch tones in the middle of a story.

At the moment, my best safeguard against unwanted tone shifts is to just have multiple projects going at once. (It’s totally on purpose and not just a byproduct of having too many ideas and not enough focus. Shush, you.) I think, though, I need to get better at working in a variety of tones to the same story. In the long run, it’ll make me a better writer. Tanner and Miranda’s adventures and misadventures have the potential to be even funnier if either they or the world around them act as the straight man to the ridiculousness of the other. The big, epic, meaningful stories that I want to write will be more powerful with funny moments sprinkled in, because that’s how real life works, for one, and its how to make the aforementioned Deep Important Things a little more relatable.

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