Saturday, April 10, 2010

Change of tone

Why do writers change the tone of their books half way through?

I've just read Deaf Sentence by David Lodge and it started out wonderfully funny and ended up rather sombre and thoughtful.

A hard-of-hearing professor can't make out what a student is saying to him and as a result finds himself drawn into a compromising situation with her. 

I can relate to the hearing problems as this is something I struggle with, although not to the same extent as Lodge's main character, and it made for a lot of laughs at the start of the book. But then there was a sudden change in the story nearer the end and the focus changed to themes of human tragedy and death with some genuinely sad moments.

It must be very difficult to maintain a tone throughout a whole book but I think this novel would have been better if Lodge had decided which way he was going to go: humour or pathos. Personally, I would have preferred a funny ending.


Bevie said...

It's not an uncommon phenomenon. Don't it myself. I feel J.K.Rowling did it with her Harry Potter series. I understand the ending and such were in place almost from the beginning, but the tone in the first book was might lighter than, say, book five.

Partly, I think it has to do with long stories in general. The longer a story the more places for an author to see tangents.

Personally, I tend to agree with you. If a story begins light-hearted, let it end light-hearted. Complete the circle.

But I don't think I do that all the time myself.

Old Kitty said...

Oooh very interesting!

I'm trying to rack my feeble brain to think if I've ever read a book that did this so obviously that it made me go "wha..???".

I think if the tone changed within a book, I'd be most annoyed but if it changed within a series of books then maybe I'd be more understanding!

Take care

fairyhedgehog said...

Bevie, I have to admit that I didn't read all the Harry Potter books. I got as far as book three, I think.

Kitty, I have read whole series where the tone stayed the same (Tanya Huff has written some good ones) so it must be possible! By the way, please could you email me about a tee shirt? Just click here for an email address you can use.

fairyhedgehog said...

Old Kitty said:(repost of comment with email address deleted)


3 minutes before Dr Who and 45 minutes after my glasses broke (LOL!!! long story - tiny, tiny screw thingy popped out - I spend 1/2 hour on hands and knees looking at carpet....find little screw thingy) only for the bit that holds my glasses to break off too.....aaaaaaaargh. ring around for opticians. shut at 5. PEASANTS!


oooh nice sweet, aw shucks...!! can't use that link - no outlook - heheheh! sorry!

email: DELETED

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EEEK Dr.Who!!!!!!!!!!!

bye and thank thank you thank you!

fairyhedgehog said...

Hi Kitty! I missed Dr Who again. Thank goodness for BBC iplayer!

I'll email you. I hope you don't mind but I deleted your comment and reposted it without the email address. I've found that email addresses on Blogger pick up a lot of spam.

Robin B. said...

Keeping the tone intact is tough - for me, it's because I can only write a bit here and there, fitting it in between work, teenager, etc. So I had to go back sometimes and read something earlier in the novel I'm writing, to get back on track. Now that I'm in edits it's easier, but I can see how the tone is tough to maintain if the novel is written in fits and starts.

Even so, that's one of the things sitting on the novel for a while before sending out is supposed to help, I'd think.

fairyhedgehog said...

Robin, it's good to see you around again. I've missed you! I hope all your edits have gone well. It must be tough writing a novel when you have so much else in your life.

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