3 Tips for Consistent Tone

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.

6 thoughts on “3 Tips for Consistent Tone

  1. AvatarM.lock85

    I have just started my first story, and don’t consider myself a writer by any means, but I am an avid reader. So, I started writing the story for myself. I wanted something I could get lost in, and inspired by. The story line is hard to figure out, but everything is flowing together nicely so far. The second I think about anyone else reading it, my writing style changes into something mediocre, and it loses it’s magic.

  2. Avatarveronica_gurlie

    Hey I have done that alot in my work. I wrote like I was actually speaking to someone. Call it crazy, but I actually imagine the person is sitting in front of me. I also write in half trances.

  3. Avatarjannertfol

    Almost by accident, I discovered a great way to keep a consistent tone while writing. Pick a person you know well – anyone at all – and write the story as if you are telling it directly to that person. Amazing little trick.

  4. Avatarkate8r8

    Polish short stories for publication by Any Subject Books (links to http://www.anysubject.com/)

    So, you’ve finished your short story, or short story collection. Congratulations!

    However, now, here comes your real task: editing and polishing your work for publication.

    Leave it alone.

    You’ve been slaving away with your writing, right? So take a well earned break! Go do something else for a few days, or even a couple of weeks. Give yourself enough time to be able to look back at your work with a fresh pair of eyes.

    Return to your work and read it thoroughly.

    Sit down in a quiet room with your work. Read it slowly. Go over sentences as many times as you need. Don’t rush. Don’t make any changes at this stage; just read hard, highlight any errors or sections that need reworking or deleting anything you may want to change. Check for clichés, clumsy adverbs, abstractions, unnecessary descriptions or awkward dialogue. If any of your content does not further your story in any way, then it must go – even if you like it! Keep it clear and concise. If you want to submit a decent short story, then you must be prepared to ‘kill your darlings.’

    Get a second opinion.

    Always have a proof-reader, preferably another writer. Ask them to be brutally honest and don’t take it personally if they are! Try out their suggestions; if they work then great, but if you don’t like them, don’t use them! Quality should be your prime concern, but don’t use something just because someone else has told you to. It’s insincere and it will show in your work.

    Now polish!

    It is now time to attack your work and make all those changes. Right your wrongs and remember there is always room for improvement. Don’t be afraid to experiment – you might be surprised at the result!

    So, you’re all done editing.

    You’re happy with your work, or as happy as you can be. Now it’s time to prepare it for submission.

    Follow the submission guidelines.

    I cannot stress this enough. Publishers are busy people. If they see that you do not even care enough to follow their guidelines, then you haven’t a snowflake’s chance in hell of them caring about your work. Each company has different formatting requirements. If you are submitting to more than one, always modify your submission to fit with the guidelines.

    So, you’ve finished! You’re happy with your work, it’s all dressed up the way your publisher wants it and you’re ready for anything. Sorry, but you’re still not quite there yet.

    Check again.

    Give it another read to see if you’ve missed anything. Make sure it’s grammar and spelling perfect and complies entirely with the guidelines. Publishers receive loads of submissions every day. Don’t forget that one tiny mistake could easily get your work rejected.

    Happy? Proofread? Checked? Checked thoroughly? Really thoroughly? Okay. Now you really are ready to go! Go forth, submit and prosper. Good luck!

    If you’re still at the stage of shopping around for a publisher, why not give Any Subject books a try? They’re always looking for new talent and if you’ve got real ability and have a story to tell, they’ll definitely be pleased to hear from you. Their submission process and guidelines are simple to follow and can be found on their writers wanted page.


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