Last Friday I talked about the author's voice and I had said I would post this week setting the tone of your novel.
There are several definitions of the tone in which you use in your book, but I will discuss setting your book up so that the reader knows what to look forward to.
Have you ever started to read a book only to find out it's not what you expected? Maybe you thought it was a murder mystery, but instead it was someone who lost a loved one due to being murdered and how it effected them. Or maybe you thought it was a romance, and it ended up being a coming of age.
When you start your book you need to set the overall setting to what the reader can expect. You don't want to disappoint your readers. They won't read anything else of yours in the future. Tricking the reader is not recommended.
I know there have been books that you thought it would go a certain way and it turned out completely different. So when you begin your story, give them the taste of what's to come.
When we started Fable we had a prologue before the first chapter. It began in the past and in a different world. We were letting the reader know what they could look forward to, not just about a girl in Golden, like the first chapter. An action and adventure story filled with fantasy.
There were certain people who said we should leave the prologue out but it gave the readers a taste of what was to come in the series. Plus, we thought it would be intriguing for the reader. What is really going on? They knew there was going to be another life, and another world.
We mixed together two different fantasy genres, urban and epic, so I wanted the reader to know this.
I know a lot of times we story tellers want to captivate our audience, but not giving them what they expect will turn them away.
When you start your novel let the reader know if it's suspense, or mystery, or romance. Let them know, up front, what is the basis of your story. Usually books begin this way, but I have seen some that were not as "telling" as they should be.
Don't worry, they will read if it's what the reader was looking for. There's no need to fool them. You will only push them away. A good example of a book that was not what the reader would think was the outcome is The Dome by Steven King. The only reason he probably didn't lose many readers though is because he is already famous.
We are all new writers and aren't famous yet so let the reader know what they can expect. Can you think of some books you've read that didn't turn out to be what you thought? How did it leave you feeling?
Until next Friday, I hope all of you have a great weekend!