On trial: The entire “Tone” section of the checklist!
Why it was added: Tone is one of the least-discussed aspects of writing, but it’s one of the most important. Tone is how you control your audience’s overall experience and enjoyment. In some ways, controlling your tone is even more important than having a compelling hero: If your audience loves your tone, you’ve got them where you want them, even if everything else about your story sucks.
Which questions were those again?
Genre: Does the story tap into pre-established expectations?
Mood: Does the story create a certain feeling?
Framing: Does the story set, reset, upset and ultimately exceed its own expectations?
Are open questions posed in the first half, which will keep the audience from asking the wrong questions later on?
Does the story use framing devices to establish genre, mood and expectations?
Deliberations: So each of these is vitally important, but are they actually useful questions to ask? As I’ve done my checklists, I’ve found these to be some of the most annoying questions to answer. Many of the questions have un-illuminating answers (identifying the genre and sub-genres). Some are phrased so oddly that few stories say yes. Some are phrased so vaguely that few stories can say no.
The verdict: So here’s where I admit something: I’ve already cut this chapter from the book. The book was just too damn long, and a whole chapter needed to go to get the page count down, so I finally just lopped this out in an impetuous moment. But now I have some remorse. For the rest of this project, let’s look for questions we may want to rescue from this section and move to other sections.
But first I’ll open it up to you. How useful is this section to you? If we lose the whole thing, which questions would you miss the most?