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Old 06-20-2019, 09:52 AM   #1
finalact4
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Default How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

i came across a couple of articles that are short and simplify explanations on tone and voice.

https://writerswrite.co.za/155-words...-authors-tone/

https://examples.yourdictionary.com/...n-a-story.html

i've excerpted a section from (the article above) Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" and bolded specific words as examples of how word choice determines tone, which is your attitude toward your story or subject matter. it's a fantastic example.

Quote:

In the following excerpt from Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," notice the many adjectives and verbs that imply insane, nervous, and guilty tones.

It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND -- MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! What COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder!
not a screenplay but a good example, i think. one can easily imagine writing this same scene with a calm and composed manner-- but that was not the "tone" the writer was expressing. this is what makes a great writer, imo. understanding there is a way to elicit emotion with the written word.

Voice is the second element [with tone] that determines a writer's style. voice is when you express your personality through your writing.

https://writerswrite.co.za/what-is-your-literary-style/

these are short articles that can help clear up confusion about what style is and how to develop and apply it to your writing.

yes, i am easily distracted. procrastinating, i know, but i agree with these articles.

another great resource that helped me to develop my writing style is Karl Iglesias' "writing for emotional impact."

a while ago i took an online professional writing course now called Screenwriter U (originally called the Pro Series). i won't get into the whole program but there was a section of the program where the work focused on writing scenes from a specific point of view, which i felt was, and still is, fascinating.

you have a scene. you have an emotional word that you want to express in that scene. for example dread and you write the entire scene from that point of view. if there is more than one character one character's words and expressions can apply "dread" and the other can contrast "dread." this technique can amplify the emotion, heighten the experience.

it taught you how to communicate a feeling, mood, and emotions through word choice and sentence structure to create fear, dread, tension, suspense, surprise, rising action, etc. and the beauty of it, is that once you understand how to do this, you just always do it. it becomes a part of your style.

sometimes i'll read a writer's work and cannot believe the monotone at which the scene and the entire script is written. there is no ebb and flow. no attitude. no voice. the entire narrative lacks any kind of emotional rollercoaster that we go to movies to experience.

we want to FEEL something. we want to be slapped in the face with surprise. we want to choke on our own tears of despair. we want to feel our heart pounding in our chest with fear until we can't stand it any more. we want to soar with elation as our hero makes the final sacrifice, earning the reward he seeks.

there are times when you need to s l o w d o w n a moment and build the tension and suspense in order to take the audience on an emotional ride. this isn't about overwriting. it's about how you communicate that moment. how you draw out emotion to heighten the experience.

there are other moments, like in intense action sequences where shorter, quick sentences or even single words can amp up the urgency and tension and keep a relentless pace that rises and rises to the final crescendo that the audience expects you to deliver.

consider the lightening strike scene in "War of the Worlds" where Tom Cruise is in the back yard with his daughter. he's fascinated at first, then his daughter's fear begins to build, he uses humor to try to calm her, then the unexpected happens, lighting strikes the same spot again. then a series of lightening strikes hit the same spot. faster and faster they come until his own fear explodes as he realizes there is something unknown and threatening in the lightening-- something menacing. something alien.

i still remember sitting next to this woman in the theater and saying out loud to her, "man, that was so intense." i mean, i was physically affected by the suspense that was slowly built over the course of a few minutes. my entire body was tense.

that's our job as writers-- to affect the audience's emotions and challenge their expectations. your writing can create that sense of total exhaustion from watching or reading a scene or sequence, all with the words you choose and the way you choose to say it.

i think i'm done procrastinating. haha.
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

Thanks for that.
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Old 06-22-2019, 12:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

Quote:
Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
i've excerpted a section from (the article above) Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" and bolded specific words as examples of how word choice determines tone, which is your attitude toward your story or subject matter. it's a fantastic example.

Voice is the second element [with tone] that determines a writer's style. voice is when you express your personality through your writing.
finalact4, in the writerswrite link the authored stated the following:

"Don't confuse tone with voice. Tone = Attitude. Voice = Personality."

finalact4, do you agree with the author of that article that one should not consider a writer's "tone" (attitude) as being part of his voice?

I would think a writer's "voice tones," i.e., dark, humorous, whimsical, etc. would be important to his writing and be considered part of his overall "voice." Not just the "personality" aspect alone.
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Old 06-22-2019, 08:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

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Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
finalact4, in the writerswrite link the authored stated the following:

"Don't confuse tone with voice. Tone = Attitude. Voice = Personality."

finalact4, do you agree with the author of that article that one should not consider a writer's "tone" (attitude) as being part of his voice?

I would think a writer's "voice tones," i.e., dark, humorous, whimsical, etc. would be important to his writing and be considered part of his overall "voice." Not just the "personality" aspect alone.
i think that tone can change from story to story but your personality doesn't change. i can write a story that has a very dark tone. i can write a romantic comedy and you can still pick out my voice in both, but the tone between the two is different. it's not my personality that has changed, but my attitude toward the story.

i think a lot of people say that voice encompasses everything that the writer is, and i'm not saying that's right or wrong. for me, i guess, i do feel they are two parts of the whole.
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Old 06-23-2019, 04:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

you have dialog for this

conceive the idea of a soliloquy and how it plays out for an audience
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Old 06-25-2019, 11:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

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Originally Posted by Julysses View Post
you have dialog for this

conceive the idea of a soliloquy and how it plays out for an audience
It is not just the dialogue. The dialogue inevitably reflects the personality of the various characters, which inevitably differ according to the characters themselves.

The script itself, has its own tone, and its own personality -- and that is yours, not the personality of the characters contained therein, though of course, the characters that you create inevitably reflect in some way your own.

The tone and personality of a script resides in the larger context of the scene, the action, and the sequence. How you describe the unfolding of the events.

When a reader or a producer reads a scary movie, they should be scared. When they read a funny movie, they should laugh. When they read an action movie, they should be excited -- in the same way they would be if they were reading a book in the same genre.

That obviously can't just reside in the dialogue, although dialogue is a part of it.

NMS
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Old 06-25-2019, 04:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

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Originally Posted by nmstevens View Post
It is not just the dialogue. The dialogue inevitably reflects the personality of the various characters, which inevitably differ according to the characters themselves.

The script itself, has its own tone, and its own personality -- and that is yours, not the personality of the characters contained therein, though of course, the characters that you create inevitably reflect in some way your own.

The tone and personality of a script resides in the larger context of the scene, the action, and the sequence. How you describe the unfolding of the events.

When a reader or a producer reads a scary movie, they should be scared. When they read a funny movie, they should laugh. When they read an action movie, they should be excited -- in the same way they would be if they were reading a book in the same genre.

That obviously can't just reside in the dialogue, although dialogue is a part of it.

NMS
very nice, NMS.
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Old 06-26-2019, 02:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

Stevens, so you're saying the prose should reflect the tone of the story?

from my experience the prose has to do with the writer, not their actual screenplay

as to the original example of EAP, I'm sure his style changes to fit the scene, as it's for the reader, as is dialog for an audience of a movie or play

the screenwriter might change style to fit the action onto the page correctly, but I don't want to refer to that as tone... maybe you mother******s are writing some shakespeare ****

...shakespeare, dialogue, prose
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Old 06-26-2019, 11:22 AM   #9
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

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Originally Posted by Julysses View Post
Stevens, so you're saying the prose should reflect the tone of the story?

from my experience the prose has to do with the writer, not their actual screenplay

as to the original example of EAP, I'm sure his style changes to fit the scene, as it's for the reader, as is dialog for an audience of a movie or play

the screenwriter might change style to fit the action onto the page correctly, but I don't want to refer to that as tone... maybe you mother******s are writing some shakespeare ****

...shakespeare, dialogue, prose
I think that we're speaking at cross purposes.

The content of particular scenes inevitably varies throughout any given movie.

An action movie, for instance, may have funny scenes or scary scenes or moving scenes so, obviously, you want those funny scenes to, well, be funny and the scary scenes to be scary, etc., etc., etc.

But apart from the obvious, which I've just said, there is an *overall* tone to the piece.

There can be scares in a comedy, or an action movie or, obviously, a horror movie -- but you've made a decision what the overall tone is - and once you know that, you know (or should know) what kinds of scares work or don't work in the scope of the larger piece and thus know (or should know) how to write them appropriately.

That is, you know the proper tone of the scare, or the joke, or whatever, in terms "not" just of the particular scene, but of the overall tone of the piece that you're writing.

I'll give you an example, and unfortunately it's from a movie that's bad in any number of ways, but that's the way things go.

the movie is Jupiter Ascending which, if you're had the misfortune of wasting two hours of your life watching it, you'll remember a particularly odd "comic" scene in which Jupiter, played by Mila Kunis, goes through this odd bureaucratic process of being inducted into the royal family.

Now, this scene is a direct rip-off of Brazil, and even has Terry Gilliam in it.

The problem is, it is wildly at odds with the rest of the movie. Even given how bad the rest of the movie is, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Whatever the justification might be -- it doesn't belong in the film because it doesn't belong in the larger world of the movie.

It would be like a piece of Airplane-style comedy suddenly popping up in the middle of Annie Hall.

This is what I'm talking about when I talk about consistency of tone - that consistency across scenes irrespective of whether they are exciting or funny or scary or movie -- even within the same movie.

And that's something that has to be done in the writing.

You don't have to be Shakespeare. You just have to know how to write a screenplay.

NMS
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Old 06-26-2019, 01:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

one could consider the tone differences in two films about the same event.

Armageddon and Deep Impact

both movies are about and extinction level event caused by an asteroid hurtling on an impact course with Earth.

Armageddon: is an action adventure that uses a lot of comedy, Michael Bay explosions, uplifting music you can sing and dance to, and focuses on the main theme of hope for the future. this is a story about heroes and family connection with a love story at the center and a father who sacrifices his life to save everyone on the planet and his remaining teammates. the future here is bright.

Deep Impact: is a drama. it focuses on government conspiracies and secrets which includes their plans for the demise of humanity. it focuses on estranged family relationship, betrayal, suicide, hopelessness and despair. the film is filled with dread and the future of humanity is bleak.

to further test the tone differences, you could never have "Leaving on a Jet Plane," play in the middle of Deep Impact because it would completely **** up the tone, but it fits well into the silliness of Armageddon.

Deep Impact has only instrumental music while Armageddon has an album on songs played during the movie that encourage the audience to sing along.

exact same story situation. very similar plots. completely different tones.

the words you choose and the manner in which you string them together creates the tone of your film.

the director takes those words and transforms them into visual expressions.

the attitudes and personalities of your characters simply reinforce your tone, but also contribute to opposing views, attitudes and conflict to enhance the narrative and tone.
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