While the cover and title sometimes give an indication of the type of book you’ll be reading, the overall tone of the book is normally set up in the first scene. How the book will make you “feel.” Are you in the mood for something funny? You should know it from the start from the tone of your book. For instance, in Kristin Billerbeck’s “With this Ring, I’m Confused,” she opens with the heroine’s thoughts on a wedding dress. Here’s an excerpt:
“I want sequins and crystals and a bum bow the size of Brazil, leg-o'-mutton sleeves, and a train that practically explodes onto the scene. I want something that screams, I'm the bride! lost in a snow flurry of white. Bring on winter, baby! Ashley Stockingdale is getting married!”
I love that! We can tell right away this is going to be a fun read.
Colleen Coble’s book grabs me with the first punch, in Lightkeeper's Daughter, with dark skies, thunder, and an explosion! Adventure all the way!
And Denise’s love stories always make me swoon (I never say that word but it seemed appropriate here). In “A Cowboy’s Touch” we immediately know that Mom is pressuring the heroine to find a man. I know within the first couple of pages that the book will be lighthearted, fun, and more-importantly, romantic.
My opening line in Hot Flashes & Cold Cream pretty much guarantees you’re not reading Sci-Fi, Murder & Mayhem or a conquer-the-world sort of book:
“With one glance at my body in the bedroom mirror, my suspicions are confirmed. Everything has gone south--and I didn't make a reservation.”
So when writing get into the mood of your story. Music helps, or maybe going to a certain place that makes you think of your book. Right now I’m writing winter scenes, so the snow and chilled air are perfect for pushing me to write.
What helps you set your tone?