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Pinchofmagic

Tone-text

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I heard the expression "Tone-text" on an episode of Writing Excuses, meaning a writer prepares to write their story by reading a text (fiction or non-fiction) that will get them in the mood for writing and to pick up the right tone for the story. One of the podcasters who writes historical fantasy used research texts from the relevant era as a tone-text, another used a certain piece of music to get into the headspace of their character. 

So I was wondering if this is a common thing amongst you WS-writers. Do you use a "tone-text" for your current project? What is it, and how does it work for you? 

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I definitely use music a lot to get into the necessary mood or headspace. As for books, I don't deliberately pick texts to get me into a certain mood (although that sounds like an idea I should try), but whatever I'm writing at the moment does influence my choice of books to read, and vice versa. When I'm choosing the next book to read, I often unconsciously gravitate toward the ones that have something in common with one of my current projects: genre, theme, certain plot points, etc. Also, I often notice that whatever I'm reading has some sort of effect on my writing. Sometimes it's very conscious: as I read, I tend to analyze what sort of techniques the author's using to achieve certain effects and all that, and sometimes I find those techniques and interesting and want to try and adapt them to my own writing. But often, it's more subtle: like if I'm reading a novel that focuses on characters' emotional experience and inner life over plot, I'm more likely to write quiet, introspective scenes. If I'm reading something with a lot of high-stakes action, I'm more likely to work on something that also has lots of action in it, etc.

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8 hours ago, Sam said:

I definitely use music a lot to get into the necessary mood or headspace. As for books, I don't deliberately pick texts to get me into a certain mood (although that sounds like an idea I should try), but whatever I'm writing at the moment does influence my choice of books to read, and vice versa. When I'm choosing the next book to read, I often unconsciously gravitate toward the ones that have something in common with one of my current projects: genre, theme, certain plot points, etc. Also, I often notice that whatever I'm reading has some sort of effect on my writing. Sometimes it's very conscious: as I read, I tend to analyze what sort of techniques the author's using to achieve certain effects and all that, and sometimes I find those techniques and interesting and want to try and adapt them to my own writing. But often, it's more subtle: like if I'm reading a novel that focuses on characters' emotional experience and inner life over plot, I'm more likely to write quiet, introspective scenes. If I'm reading something with a lot of high-stakes action, I'm more likely to work on something that also has lots of action in it, etc.

Oh, yes, I'm exactly the same, and get very influenced by media, so I hesitate to read and watch something too different from my story. :) Music is awesome, I usually use it to heighten my mood by playing something fast and fun (dixiejazz works really well for me), especially if I need to write something really light-hearted. For some reason I default to a more serious mood, and have to fight my way into the funny stuff I want to write, so I often have to read some Pratchett or Wodehouse to find that light mood before I start writing. And also, like you, for their technique. I find it's really useful during editing to look up certain things, like snappy description. 

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Music is definitely one of my biggest go-to media's to get my head in the right place.  I create playlists for all of my projects to listen to while I'm writing or planning.  I latch on to lyrical phrases and certain melodies so I tend to have those pieces on repeat to reach whatever the piece is inspiring.  Epic music without lyrics are also awesome because I can see scenes set to them and get a clearer sense of the emotional foundations for different characters or situations.  I like to take a drive out to a nearby park with a lake and just sit while the music plays and watch nature, too.  Nature always has a grounding effect on me, and pairing it with the music sets my mind to puzzling out what it needs to and getting to the heart of whatever I need to find.

I also tend to watch movies or TV shows that fall with the tone I want to achieve for my project.  Even though my characters aren't pirates I've been watching and rewatching the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  They have a great mix of character development, storytelling, and mythology.  Plus, they've inspired this image in my head of wild witches in the western wilderness decked out like a cross between pirates, fur trappers, and tattooed Celtic warriors who rove around in their own little outlaw gangs or tribes.  The whole POTC story is about living on the edge of a shrinking wilderness and way of life, which speaks to me and my story on a lot of levels.

I don't usually pursue text to set a tone the way I do music.  I use it more to unwind, to study, or for research.  At the moment, though, I am searching out Supernatural fan fiction as a tone setter.  The canon relationship between the Winchesters was what inspired Fred and Taz in the beginning, so going back to my roots, so to speak, has helped me with perspective and realignment with the heart of my story.  

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On 5/17/2019 at 4:32 AM, TricksterShi said:

Even though my characters aren't pirates I've been watching and rewatching the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  They have a great mix of character development, storytelling, and mythology.  Plus, they've inspired this image in my head of wild witches in the western wilderness decked out like a cross between pirates, fur trappers, and tattooed Celtic warriors who rove around in their own little outlaw gangs or tribes.  The whole POTC story is about living on the edge of a shrinking wilderness and way of life, which speaks to me and my story on a lot of levels.

Bands of witches ( just that is so freaking cool!), looking like a mix of pirates, fur trappers and Celtic Warriors, that is just the most amazing mix I've ever heard of! I just got really excited reading your comment, because the witches in my Middle Grade WIP have a pirate heritage even though they've settled in a small bay community now. But that community has deep roots in the old pirate traditions, so yeah, I definitely watch Pirates of the Caribbean for that, lol! Pirates and witches have so much in common, like the love of freedom and independence, and like you said about POTC; a particular way of life that's disappearing. Being despised, feared and hunted, that goes for both of them too. The mythologies are so much fun in those movies, very magical and fantasy-esque, I just love them. And of course, a lot of cool sea/pirate slang to work with. :) 

Music is fantastic, and the epic music you talk about is definitely like a call to write, because it's filling the head with new worlds magically. I listen a lot to the album Rogue's Gallery now (old sea shanties recorded by modern artists) and there are definitely lyrical phrases, like you talk about, that are super-inspiring. There's one song about a sailor complaining about a bad fiddler who's ruining the day and just won't stop playing, lol! It's a funny song, but inbetween the whining about this fiddler, there are some beautiful poetic lines:

Summer deep, embowered in flowers
silent music, in the hours
in the east a feather moon...
and that fiddler out of tune!

It makes me wanna write some sea shanties for my old witches. 😄  

Also, I loved to hear about the Supernatural-connection in your work. Big fan here, and it's an amazing source of inspiration. The different character relationships are so much fun, and also the legends and myths used in that, it really kickstarts the imagination big time. :)

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On 5/17/2019 at 5:32 AM, TricksterShi said:

The whole POTC story is about living on the edge of a shrinking wilderness and way of life, which speaks to me and my story on a lot of levels.

That's such a beautiful way to put it. ❣️And I really love your concept of wild witches—that's definitely a story I'd love to read some day.

As for music, I personally try to choose instrumental tracks these days for actual writing/planning, because I'm too easily inspired by songs with lyrics, but not in the way I want to be inspired. :D I mean that often, when I'm listening to a song with lyrics, a few lines suddenly kind of stand out to me and give me a whole new plot bunny for a whole new story, which stands in the way of focusing on whatever I'm currently working on. Sometimes, I find ways to fit those plot bunnies into existing WIPs as side plots—it's proving to be surprisingly easy to do with my current main WIP, because of its format and 'urban fantasy kitchen sink' nature—but that doesn't always work out. 

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