Tone plus Voice Make Mystery Magic

Today, at #MotiveMeansOpportunity


By Jayne Barnard

ab-negative-coverIn 10 years of serving on crime fiction juries, I’ve seen hundreds of stories. Most are forgettable. The ones that stick with me are those that vibrate with tone and/or voice. I know them when I see them. So do agents and editors. Tone and voice tip the scales from an also-ran submission to a tale that editors and agents desire.

But what are tone and voice? Essentially, they’re attitude. The character’s attitude and the story’s attitude. Attitude is good in fiction. You’re writing slices of creatively enhanced life, not journal articles, academic essays or newspaper items. Your characters’ and your narrative’s words must hint at—or outright shout—attitudes, stances, secret fears and desires. Attitude shakes its fist at the story problem.

Tone: the attitude your narrator or protagonist brings to the table.

Each word the narrator says, every action they take, reveals their attitude toward the situation…

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