3 Tips for Consistent Tone

If you find yourself having a difficult time sustaining one tone over a long work, try these three tricks.
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If you find yourself having a difficult time sustaining one tone over a long work, try these three tricks.

1. Find a paragraph that sounds exactly the way you want to sound for this work, and tape it to your computer so that it’s always in front of you.

2. Each time you’re about to return to the piece, spend 20 minutes reading the work of an author who writes in the tone you’re after. We’re natural mimics. You might try taking this a step further by more closely examining the sentence rhythms and word choices and looking for ways to make them your own. John Lukacs once said, “Style begins the way fashion begins: Somebody admires how the other man dresses and adapts it for himself.”

3. Starts and finishes are especially important to tone. When revising your work, try moving some of your best sentences, the ones with energy and just the right tone, up to the top of your document: “I’m so looking forward to Christmas this year. It will be the only day in December not entirely consumed by children’s theater performances.” Could the piece begin this way? Experiment with moving equally strong sentences to the conclusion of your piece, for a cohesive ending.

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