Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Authorial Tone

So during my musings today, I made a discovery that there is an important aspect of writing that I can recognize, but I have no idea how to produce: tone.

I will be taking a utopian/dystopian literature class in a couple of weeks and I'm reading some of the novels in preparation for it. I didn't realize how much dystopian literature I had read until addressed so directly by this class. I was reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Fascinating work.

In describing the novel to my husband, I realized that (unlike a lot of dystopian literature), Huxley was not specifically creating a dystopian society; instead he was satirizing/warning about where he thought his society was heading. The tone of the novel is somehow different.

But I can't figure out how. I can tell there is a difference, and intellectually I know that it has to do a lot with word choice, but I can't tell you what words are creating the tone. To me, it all just seems to be written matter-of-factly, a technique used often in multicultural literature to get the reader to empathize with the different culture. But there is a decidedly disapproving tone overall to the work itself.

Which thought also lead me to characterization. How does a great author make a bad (or even good) character sympathetic, or conversely, a good (or bad) character despicable?

This is something I need to study in depth to improve my own writing. But frankly I'm not even sure where to start my analysis. Not even to mention the amount of time...But I guess that's how truly great writers become great.