Find a tone and stick with it

Something in this seems a little out of place
Something in this seems a little out of place

I used to dread getting feedback. It always meant having to go back and rewrite something.

Fortunately, I’m well past that and now appreciate how necessary both feedback and rewriting are.

Feedback makes you learn to value the necessity of hearing how somebody else interprets your work, and more importantly, how to be objective when it comes to really understanding what they have to say.

While working on the outline of my mystery rewrite, I looked for opportunities to put in an occasional joke (read: cheap laugh).

The problem, according to my top feedback-provider, was that the jokes, while understandable for their intent, were totally wrong for this kind of story. They make my protagonist come across as an idiot and the action comes to a screeching halt each time. And since this is more mystery than comedy, they shouldn’t be drawing attention to themselves like that.

There were other notes besides this one, but this one really struck a nerve – in a good way. I’ve been working on rewriting the jokes to make them a better fit within the context of the story, rather than have them be glaringly obvious and out of place.

As you create the world of your story, you have to make sure all the elements combine to make a believable scenario. This goes way beyond the story and the characters – take everything into account.  If something seems out of place, fix it or get rid of it.

And if you’re not sure, that’s what feedback is for.

4 thoughts on “Find a tone and stick with it

  1. I couldn’t agree more. You need to have somebody who is being objective though and not somebody who simply wishes to poke holes in your script for the sport of it. I used to dread rewrites as well thinking I just have to go through everything all over again for no reason, I should stand by what I did before. Then I reread some of my stuff and realize I made some obvious mistakes that I can only see later with a more objective eye.

  2. Agreed. I am getting tougher dealing with that now than I used to – I have also encountered the sort who like to poke holes without giving any clear answers and for a while that threw me off the whole feedback thing. Now I am trying to brave up more – Z, when do you usually get feedback? At the earliest stages or after you have written a few drafts? Maybe I have asked you this question before, can’t remember…

    • I don’t remember either. Regardless…

      After finishing the first draft, I’ll wait a few weeks to read it again to look for any potential problems. Once that draft is done, my wife takes a look at it. She’s not a writer, but is very story-savvy. Following that rewrite, I’ll tinker with it some more, then send it to friends & trusted colleagues – all of whom are experienced writers. Their word isn’t final; I’ll pick & choose from their comments and make the appropriate fixes. Finally, if I can afford it, I’ll go with professional feedback (I can send you a list of some reliable ones if you’re interested). After getting those notes, more tinkering occurs until I think it’s as good as it’s going to be.

  3. hey thanks, makes sense. A list would be great, actually. Right now, I have only shown stuff to a few close friends and mentor… want to fix them up more and then get some more feedback. Almost finished another first draft that my spouse is looking to read so should be interesting…

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