Monday, August 24, 2020

Creating Mood in Writing

Too often we describe a scene like a flat picture. Adding mood presents it in terms of how a viewer feels about it. The fabulous empire capital here evokes such feelings: it casts mighty shadows across golden waters, and spires pierce a bowl of light opening in mauve skies. We sense the magic in this place.

The value of mood
1) Brings a setting to life and draws readers in.
2) Resonates with personal memories.
3) Raises expectations of more gripping immersion.

Prose should use effective word choice to keep it brief and intense. Too much description stops readers in their tracks when they want to keep moving.

This technique also applies to brief character scenes.

Here we have a character reacting to obviously cold water, probably a sprinkler. A little imagination makes it a sudden cloudburst on a sunny day, evidenced by the corona of light on hair and shoulders. We can just feel that cold spray, and it's time to run for shelter. Compare this with the lifeless "Suddenly it began to rain".

Now let's consider an ordinary outdoor scene. This could be a view from a remote manor the protagonist is sheltering in. It's a day best spent cozy indoors. But tension is always there somewhere in the background, even when we pause to enjoy a break with the hero. Long blue tree shapes creep across the snow. Maybe a careless shape moves across their path. What's the hero's response?

In this example of a close indoor scene, our hero considers a powerful talisman he's charged with protecting until he figures out how to use it. It sits in a block of late evening sun on a counter  streaked with shadows from the window he just looked out of. It looks like the hero won't be spending a cozy night here after all.

To sum up: detail is important for true immersion, but don't forget how it  affects a character's mood and feelings. That's a true immersive experience.

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