Unexpected Changes In Tone

Toby Frost

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#1
I've wanted to write a book about a robot for a long time, but I didn't think it would turn out quite the way it seems to be going.

I meant it to be very light and silly, full of outright parodies of other robot and cyberpunk stories (and even a couple of musical numbers!). But while there are jokes, they're in the dialogue, not the setting, and the story is turning into a kind of odd-couple thriller, with a similar tone to Indiana Jones or Firefly rather than outright comedies like Blackadder or Red Dwarf.

Has anyone else had the tone of a book change as they've written in? Is the best thing to get to the end and see what happens?

(For the avoidance of doubt, if this doesn't work at all, I'm not going to do anything with it)
 

tinkerdan

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#2
For what it is worth.

I wrote something that had some inside jokes and used some references to Edgar Allan Poe's raven, as a joke, and when I finished I realized the scene fit nicely into a story I had yet to write and I ended up writing about 4 or 5 scenes more of a piece that is meant to be serious. However, since many of the inside jokes don't translate over well, they also don't seem to diminish or hurt the whole. I do need to look strongly at the Poe references to be sure I don't step on toes though.
 

Paul Meccano

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#3
I've wanted to write a book about a robot for a long time, but I didn't think it would turn out quite the way it seems to be going.

I meant it to be very light and silly, full of outright parodies of other robot and cyberpunk stories (and even a couple of musical numbers!). But while there are jokes, they're in the dialogue, not the setting, and the story is turning into a kind of odd-couple thriller, with a similar tone to Indiana Jones or Firefly rather than outright comedies like Blackadder or Red Dwarf.

Has anyone else had the tone of a book change as they've written in? Is the best thing to get to the end and see what happens?

(For the avoidance of doubt, if this doesn't work at all, I'm not going to do anything with it)
80000 words into a story that although not comedy started with a very different tone. I wanted the whole book to be light hearted but found there were to many important issue's (for me) that I couldn't take lightly. The book that I started has gone with the book remaining a reflection of my needs as a writer, at present.

I think its fair to say that we all have idea's on what we want to write and having fulfilled a need in ourselves, we move on to the next. I fear that for me,(it may be a common truth) I have needs that show up whether invited or not; an undertone itch that needs to be scratched, a cat sat on an open newspaper stretched over my lap, obscuring my news of the day.
 

The Judge

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#4
I've not had a change of tone happen, but then I've never set out to write anything longer than a 75 worder in a specific tone eg a comedy or thriller or horror piece where it might jar against something else. I was going to suggest you write the story and see if you like how it's turned out, but it occurs to me I could never do that, as I wouldn't be able to face the re-writing if I didn't in fact like it.

Are you enjoying writing it as a odd-couple thriller with comedic overtones? Do you think that would sell better than an out-an-out parody comedy? If the answer to either is yes, carry on! If on the other hand you're still hankering after the silliness, I'd suggest you reverse course now before you get too embroiled in something you might not be as happy with.

Meanwhile, did you put the thread here in Writing Group for a reason? If you want to keep the change of emphasis/tone a secret from the wider world, I'll leave it here, otherwise I think it might be better off in GWD.
 

CTRandall

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#5
Do you mean that the book as a whole is different than you planned or that it starts out silly and, part way through, morphs into a thriller?

As a reader, I enjoy a surprising shift of tone in a story. It is difficult to pull off, however, and I've never tried it in fiction (much easier to do in music, I think).
 

Toby Frost

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#6
It was originally an out-and-out comedy, with space pirates and parodies of every story with a robot in it that I could think of, and a very daft tone. Certain bits of daftness still survive, but only where they're justified. I know you're supposed to murder your darlings, but ditching the non-musical musical numbers was hard.

80000 words into a story that although not comedy started with a very different tone. I wanted the whole book to be light hearted but found there were to many important issue's (for me) that I couldn't take lightly.
Yes, that's what I mean. It seems wrong to treat it frivolously. There's nothing in there that's of incredible weight, but it feels as if I can't quite do the story justice without treating it a little more seriously. Of course, there are loads of robot stories, and I think questions like "What makes us human?" are so vague that they're hardly worth asking, but I've got this feeling that I'm getting at an idea.

Are you enjoying writing it as a odd-couple thriller with comedic overtones? Do you think that would sell better than an out-an-out parody comedy?
I think the answer to both is very much "yes"! So the best thing to do, I reckon, is to keep on going and see what it's like at the end. If that means going back and taking a few flying cars out of the beginning (cue flashing red screen saying "PURGE"), then so be it, but I'll deal with that when I get there.

Oh, and feel free to move the thread as appropriate.
 

Ihe

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#7
I'm with TJ on this one. The prospect of a big rewrite alone would crush me. Also, the tone shifts could have more to do with the style of writer you are than the story itself. I suspects pantsers encounter this more than their reviled other half :D. Its about the story leading the writer or viceversa.
There definitely an artsy beauty to a story that can confuse and surprise its creator. Stories are almost a living thing. So these things happen to EVERY writer. It's just some choose to domesticate it and others let it run rampant inside the china shop. There are cons and pros in either case. It all comes down to: do you like what you have so far?
 

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