The Right Tone



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  • The Right Tone

    I have a script that I wrote last year. I love it. Some friends love it. My agent and a writer friend whose opinion I trust both felt that something was missing from it. I refuse to let the idea go. They couldn't put their finger on exactly what was missing. Then last night I'm watching one of my movie channels, quickly going past the soft-core porn when I come across "Heaven Can Wait." Have to watch it. Suddenly the light bulb goes off and I realize that I need to change the tone of the other script. My script is nothing like "Heaven Can Wait," but that movie made me realize that the tone of mine was wrong.

    Tone is something I always try to be aware of. Keeping it consistent throughout the entire script. But, I had never before thought that maybe the tone of the whole script was wrong and that maybe it didn't really fit my writing style. Anyway, feel great today because I think I can rescue this sucker. Of course, I'll let you all know what happens.
    And let me know if you've had this happen to you.

  • #2
    I've a s/p I started a couple years ago--a very dark comedy along the lines of 'Eating Raoul'. The problem with it is as you mentioned above, inconsistency in tone. It's a true dark comedy from beginning until the very final scene, where its horrific, shock-your-senses ending betrays it. The ending is just a bit too horrific, and so incongruent with the tenor of the prevailing theme. I've struggled with finding a new ending, but no epiphanies as of yet. So it's been shelved for over a year now--out of sight, out of mind. It's literally done except for that damn ending!

    Frustrating at times, this life...



    • #3
      I think I've had more of a problem of changing tone from script to script.

      Recently, I had a character from my first script show up in my second one. I recognized her immediately and had to boot her out. I knew right then I was setting the tone for the second one exactly as I had done the first.

      I set out to visualize a particular actress to play the second female lead that was completely different from the one one I visualized for my first female lead. This helped.

      Am I talking about the right thing here?



      • #4
        Hm. So far -- correct me if I'm wrong, O you who have read my script thus far -- I think I'm keeping an even keel on my tone thang. Creepy & kooky, mysteriously spooky, even altogether ooky, the O'Donaghue family... erm, sorry, I'm a bit off this evening. But yeah, its maintaining the creepiness mixed in with the family-concerns and the mysterious bits that are all managing to -- somehow, by God -- come together. I'm rather shocked at myself.

        Now, the one I'm considering doing next? A genre I've never done... so I'll letcha know how that one goes in a month or two...


        • #5
          I have a script that has been sitting on a shelf unfinished since 1993 because of tone. I was very sick while writing it and at page 62 I got too sick to write at all. Which for me is pretty sick. I couldn't write for a month and a half. It is a good story. But being that sick, I realized one of these days I was going to die and if I had anything I needed to say before that happened now was the time, so when I got better, I wrote something else first. And every time I go back to try to work on that script, it is the bleakest script. There is no humor in it at all. Which is unlike anything I write. The whole tone would have to change but to do that I would have to be in that script the way it is for a while. And it slams me back to that place I was when I was writing it and I put it aside and think, I am not going back there right now. That terrible bleak place. I may never finish that script because I just do not like feeling like I am dying. (wry grimace)


          • #6
            >>> I think I've had more of a problem of changing tone from
            script to script.<<<

            Could this be the problem you face, Des? have you written other scripts with different subject matter that have dictated tones? Maybe you are probing unfamiliar territory and are uncomfortable doing so.

            I've never written a straight drama, but I'm working on the story now. Very uneasy.

            The initial tone is pretty much set during the first few pages of a script. Is your opening on the same note as the rest of your script? Maybe it's too light, too heavy handed, etc?


            • #7
              Callit: Yes, I think I was going for too much straight drama. That's the breakthrough I had. I have written seven scripts and the subject manner and even the genre has changed but there is always a smart-ass comedic underbelly, that I think I was trying to keep out the screenplay in question. I am now reworking it and I will let you know if it works or ends up an abject failure.

              Gig: I have the same problem with my third script. I was going to rework it and just couldn't go back to that place. What it did do, was force to write my last one just to get away from it. I think it's best to leave it in tatters for now or maybe forever.

              Thanks for your input. This is what I love about this board. You guys always come through.