[found on writersdigest.com]
“If you find yourself having a difficult time sustaining one tone over a long work, try these three tricks.
1. Find a paragraph that sounds exactly the way you want to sound for this work, and tape it to your computer so that it’s always in front of you.
2. Each time you’re about to return to the piece, spend 20 minutes reading the work of an author who writes in the tone you’re after.
We’re natural mimics. You might try taking this a step further by more closely examining the sentence rhythms and word choices and looking for ways to make them your own. John Lukacs once said, “Style begins the way fashion begins: Somebody admires how the other man dresses and adapts it for himself.”
3. Starts and finishes are especially important to tone.
When revising your work, try moving some of your best sentences, the ones with energy and just the right tone, up to the top of your document: “I’m so looking forward to Christmas this year. It will be the only day in December not entirely consumed by children’s theater performances.” Could the piece begin this way? Experiment with moving equally strong sentences to the conclusion of your piece, for a cohesive ending.”
For more tips on writing from Writer’s Digest, click here.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”
— Harper Lee [Writer’s Digest, September 1961]
[found on writersdigest.com; by Elizabeth Sims]
There are many different styles of naming your characters, one is the ironic choice.
Large chunks of Alexander McCall Smith’s bestselling 44 Scotland Street series concern the difficult life of Bertie Pollock, an Edinburgh schoolboy. Two of his schoolmates are lads named Larch and Tofu. Though minor characters, they’re there for a distinct purpose.
The names interact with a savory irony. Tofu and Larch’s names obviously have been bestowed by parents with finely tuned ideals. Political correctness abounds: One boy’s name is a legume paste, the other a tree. Yet the characters, we learn from their actions and words, are as shallow and phony-hearted as their names are sophisticated.
Smith gives us, by contrast, the simple, direct, honest Bertie. He is worth more than both Tofu and Larch put together. His is an ordinary, unpretentious name; his surname, Pollock, is a common fish. Bertie, then, is the humble everyman who must endure everybody else’s idiotic, self-serving vanities.
But for pure triumphal irony, can anything top the Veneering family, of Dickens’ classic Our Mutual Friend? Such a vaguely grand-seeming name for a vaguely grand family. Simultaneously, of course, their name clues us in that they are nothing but surface. And we enjoy watching them try—and fail—to live up to their banal aspirations.
Ironic names are easy to create: Just think of your character’s opposite qualities and brainstorm liberally. Let’s say you’ve got a clumsy guy who lives with his parents and aspires merely to avoid work and download porn. You could give him an ironic name like Thor or Victor or Christian or even Pilgrim. Or you could give him a first name that’s a family surname, like Powers or Strong.
Authors who want to use ironic character names should strictly limit themselves to one per story or novel.”
To see other options of name choice from Writer’s Digest, click here.