Comic Talk and General Discussion *

Watch Your Tone!
Banes at 5:15PM, Nov. 25, 2015
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Lately I've been thinking about TONE in fiction. Whether something is dramatic, comedic, farcical, scary, or thrilling.

It's the kind of thing that's best established in the beginning of a work. I remember laboring like crazy over how to open my first Typical Strange episode. A couple years later, doing the first comic, I gave it quite a bit of thought, too, though it was much easier at that point, since I was so comfortable with the characters and their world by then.

Both iterations began with movie talk in a video store. The first featured a brief discussion of the Friday the 13th series, while the comic started with a comparison of Die Hard and Home Alone. I was pleased with the comic, in particular; I thought the tone fit well with most of what I went on to do (and am still doing).

I'd describe the tone of my comic as comedic, somewhat meta and farcical at times, but with a strong undercurrent of melancholy.

The melancholy part comes from influences like The Muppet Show and The X-Men. Though the Muppet Show is a comedy/satire/farce and the X-Men is an action/drama, I find both series have a sadness/melancholy to them that really appeals to me. 

Have you ever thought about tone in your comics? How would you describe it?
HippieVan at 8:14PM, Nov. 25, 2015
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Tone is hard for me. Aside from messages to friends, 99% of what I write is academic. I have a hard time pulling out of the world of long sentences and serious messages. The comic that I'm currently writing is meant to be quite light and silly. That's not too tricky when the character is just running around meeting odd people, but I'm having a hard time working in the actual plot without things getting too serious. I'm very uncomfortable with writing a story that could be perceived as meaningful.
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
Banes at 9:10PM, Nov. 25, 2015
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That's an intriguing final sentence, Hippy, that you're uncomfortable with your story being perceived as meaningful!

I think if the light, silly tone is established in the first few pages, that will help. People will know what they're getting and have a feel for it. If you're doing a big plot, maybe you could plan the plot points/significant moments/character arcs if there are any and make sure those big moments aren't too “heavy”?

Maybe then, any accidental ‘meaningfulness’ won't be given too much weight?
ozoneocean at 11:58PM, Nov. 25, 2015
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My tone is all over the place in Pinky TA, from serious, action stuff, revenge, to fart jokes… because I can't decide what sort of stor I want to tell.
I'm not a good writer.
I keep it all over the place…  The trouble is I'd love it to be an action comedy, but it's hard to do serious character stuff in those, or serious stories… I want my characters to be able to be well rounded, three dimensional people, but I also want to make them foils for stupid jokes.
Ah, I'm not a good person to contribute to this subject.
 
Whirlwynd at 8:11AM, Nov. 26, 2015
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I've given tone a lot of thought over the years even though I didn't have a word for it early on. I remember Juno from Star Cross'd Destiny had a lot more anime-style comedic moments in the earlier version of her comic, and when she remade it she said she got rid of them because she had to make a decision of what the tone of her comic was going to be and she went with more serious. There's still some funny moments in there, though.
20 Galaxies has been easier to define the tone for me. The general feel of it is supposed to be about adventure and exploration, and a little on the lighthearted side. Adventure comes with risks, and there are definitely some darker moments in the comic, but overall it's supposed to be optimistic.
Lady Unlucky on the other hand – well, I can sum up my difficulties with this panel.

It's supposed to be a heavy story and definitely one of more ambitious efforts. It's supposed to have a much darker tone than 20G. The problem is consistency with the characters' personalities. Most of them aren't normally super-serious, like the people I know, they tend to deal with harsh situations with humor. Of course, they don't deal with every situation with humor and maybe that will make more of an impact later when the really dramatic stuff starts happening –
Also the comic is meant to mess with your perception a bit (visually and story-wise – if you pay close attention to the Lumnian backgrounds you'll see optical illusions worked in) so maybe I should just leave the tone alone.

HippieVan at 12:18PM, Nov. 26, 2015
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Banes wrote:
That's an intriguing final sentence, Hippy, that you're uncomfortable with your story being perceived as meaningful!

I think if the light, silly tone is established in the first few pages, that will help. People will know what they're getting and have a feel for it. If you're doing a big plot, maybe you could plan the plot points/significant moments/character arcs if there are any and make sure those big moments aren't too “heavy”?

Maybe then, any accidental ‘meaningfulness’ won't be given too much weight?
I think it's that I don't feel at this point in my life like I have any great wisdom to impart, and I don't want my readers to think that that's my goal. But it's hard to tell a compelling story without some sad moments, lessons learned by the characters, etc.
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
Banes at 12:51PM, Nov. 26, 2015
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@Hippy - I hear you! The great thing about themes and morals and “lessons” is that they can be hidden in your stories. Beating people over the head with lessons is always the wrong way to go in fiction (I worry about the same thing, actually. Like, who am I to be imparting wisdom or guidance to anyone?). That meaningful stuff can be in there, though…just in a subtle way!

Actually, the wisdom you've gained in your life will probably find its way into your stories, whether you intend it or not!

@Whirly - Thanks for those insights, Whirly! Yeah, I think a piece of work can have a bleak or serious tone and still have humor in it (in fact, I could argue that it's more essential, the more extreme a tone is, to have the opposite in there somewhere). The lightest comedy needs SOME bite/reality to it, and horror is best served with a humorous garnish!

Hey, where's Gunwallace? I heard he's writing a comedic cookbook!

There might be less variety of emotions than there are plot situations or character quirks, but tone can still have nuance to it. I'd be hard pressed to think of any novel/movie/series I enjoyed that had only ONE emotional level to the whole thing.

Edit - haha, I called you “Whirly”. Sorry, Whirlwynd; I always read your name as “Whirlywind”
last edited on Nov. 26, 2015 12:58PM
Banes at 1:00PM, Nov. 26, 2015
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@ozoneocean - I've never felt “mood whiplash” while reading Pinky TA. I think it's working better than you think!
Ironscarf at 6:10PM, Nov. 26, 2015
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Banes wrote:
Lately I've been thinking about TONE in fiction. Whether something is dramatic, comedic, farcical, scary, or thrilling.
I think I was shooting for all of those at once in my current comic, in various combinations! I didn't really have a preconceived notion of how it should be. I'm guilty of just throwing everything together and trusting that it'll work, so the tone sort of evolved in an organic way. Whether or not it actually works is for others to judge!
 
The combination of drama, thrills and humour is fairly common so it shouldn't be to much of a stretch for most readers. The problem will come in the next story and the one after, where I'm asking the reader to make a much greater emotional investment in the characters and feel some genuine feels, while still keeping all the other elements. I think this will be a lot harder to achieve and it's going to stretch my skills with the possibility of failure. I hope the tone will be well enough established by then that readers will accept the occasional emotional detour without losing their way.
 
last edited on Nov. 26, 2015 6:12PM
KimLuster at 9:05PM, Nov. 26, 2015
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I think, probably, the best way to get the tone of a story is how it makes you feel.  Does it make you happy, sad, afraid, anxious, pondering…  
.
I've tried to create a tone of ‘dark mystery’ in my story, the Godstrain, with a little dose of just about every other emotion I could think of.  Just a little though - I think a story should focus on one or two tones.  Just another tool to keep it all coherent!
usedbooks at 7:33AM, Nov. 27, 2015
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I prefer a light-hearted tone within a severe/dangeous/actionr-packed story. I believe that tone can be set by having the right kinds of characters in their reactions to whatever the events of the plot are, but I end up failing at writing that. I try to have positive characters with levity and sarchasm (sarcasm combats melancholy), but when the plot turns, sometimes it just gets sad. :P I'm afraid I've broken my most bubbly, positive character with some recent developments (death of a family member). I fear my own moods end up projected in my writing.  In any case, I have discovered that to keep the tone light, you can't just have positive characters, you have to have some detached, callous, don't-give-a-f**k characters too. (Also, someone who predicts disaster at every turn and is apparently channeling Eeyore helps.) Good thing I have a large cast. 
 
 
That's my intention, to be generally lighthearted and intriguing, but the reality is, my writing is kinda tense most of the time with stretches of distilled sorrow. :P I feel accomplished if I can make readers feel ANYTHING, though. Connection to the characters is very important to me. The only stories (TV, movie, comic, book, or other) I have truly hated are ones where you feel nothing at all.
Whirlwynd at 5:55PM, Dec. 14, 2015
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Banes, no worries, I like “Whirly” =) A lot of people call me that. And yeah, I think it is good to have little bits of the opposite mood. I'm actually trying to think of movies I've seen that are all completely one tone.
The tone of Lady Unlucky sort of reminds me of The Fifth Element come to think of it –

Genejoke at 6:14AM, Dec. 15, 2015
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Tone is a tricky one, but I make what I like to reado.  Or try to.
I aim for a fairly serious tone, but not to the exclusion of comedy. Rarely to I write silly or frivolous stories. It's why I often struggle with manga/anime as it's often a little too silly despite having a dark and serious plot. At least of the few I've tried. That's a pretty broad stroke, from there I try and tailor it to the story. Horror stories that I've done have generally been pretty straight, with minimal comedic elements an trying to make the dialogue a little mean spirited. BASO was very serious in tone despite not being to heavy on the science, but I've always been happy to alter the tone slightly to reflect the situations the characters find themselves in. My one rule is that the comedy comes from the characters, just like the romance and happiness. 
With Lore I aimed for a more light hearted feel, not massively but a little more adventurous perhaps. I'm not sure I really succeeded there. I think used books some sort it up pretty well even if she aims for more upbeat than I.
I find details gunwallaces writing interesting. He can write very touching and funny stories and what really makes them is the dialogue. I wish I could write Dialogue like gunwallace. 
last edited on Dec. 15, 2015 6:18AM

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