There are so many things to think about when you're writing a book--plot, characters, POV, opening hooks, chapter hooks, dialogue, narrative, show-don't tell, and on and on. Well, here's one more--the mood of the story.
I'm not talking genre, like romance, mystery, horror, suspense, etc. A Romance can be eerie and gothic. Horror can be humorous. A Thriller can be tongue-in-cheek. By mood, I'm talking atmosphere of the book.
Think about the atmosphere you want to create for the plot, the characters, the setting. Then establish that mood through your use of details, the way you put words and sentences together, your use of the senses.
A character walks down a long hallway, dark and quiet. A clock sounds. Is it the deep bass bonging of a grandfather clock? Or is it the shrill clucking of a coo-coo clock?
The setting of a scene is a lawyer's office. How do you, as the writer, furnish the room? Big, heavy furniture; lots of wood; a Tiffany desk lamp? Is that all? Or is there, hidden among the knick-knacks, a worn-leather book on ancient incantations? One thing that throws the scene, the atmosphere, off-kilter.
Your character goes to church. What kind of church is it? You can't just say it's a big fancy church--you have to show us. And what you show us about this church sets the mood. Do we see the long pews, the floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows? Do we see a rubber duckie floating in the baptismal tank? Is the choir dressed in royal blue with white collars, or ill-fitting faded purple robes? Does conversation come to a deadly stop when a certain character enters? Does a cell phone ring during the sermon and we see a head of curly brown hair slide down in the pew?
Make them count.
3 years ago
Details, and how they are given to the reader, are really what make or break the story. The same idea can be brilliant or really just ordinary depending on them. And getting the details wrong can send your reader into a spin.ReplyDelete
Thanks for an interesting post and reminding us all how important those details are.
It's wonderful when a picture of a room pops into the mind and its just what you want. The sub concious mind is so very clever at producing the right thing at the right time. Oh, that cuckkoo clock would be so wrong for so many stories!ReplyDelete
Great points on establishing mood, Helen!ReplyDelete
I like your rubber duckie in the baptismal font. :) Ha!
Mystery Writing is Murder
Great advice. One of my struggles is to keep the mood of the book constant even when *my* mood changes while writing it!ReplyDelete
A wonderful reminder! It's way too easy to forget the details or gloss over them.ReplyDelete
Great reminder, Helen. I definitely need to be more detail-oriented!ReplyDelete
Details do keep a reader's attention. The story can be great, but if there's no atmosphere it does fall a little flat.ReplyDelete
Happy Mother's Day.
Thoughts in Progress
Great points. I need to keep this nearby.ReplyDelete
When were you in my church? Or maybe our pranksters just church-hop. lol
Giggles and Guns
Brilliant post! Description of atmosphere is something I've been trying to work on lately, this post will prove a handy reference.ReplyDelete
Great point. I sometimes think mood is everything.ReplyDelete
Wonderful reminder, Helen. I love to read passages in books that have these types of telling details.ReplyDelete
Something important to consider.ReplyDelete
And I'd like to go to the church with a rubber duck in the Baptism tank!
It's the details that can make a difference, and I'm one that has to go back and make sure I put them in.ReplyDelete
Nicely said, Helen. Mood binds all the other elements into a consistent whole.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reminder, Helen!ReplyDelete
So that's where I left Mister Ducky!ReplyDelete
That was a good, informative post, Helen.
Don't worry, Bob, Mr. Ducky is having fun.ReplyDelete
It sounds like you're in the thick of a work-in-progress! Hope it's going well.ReplyDelete
Mmm, it seems I should work out a list of adjectives that describe atmosphere...ReplyDelete
Excellent point. I love finding that perfect detail that just makes the setting come alive. It's one of the great joys of writing for me.ReplyDelete
Great post. Also, it's the quality of the detail, not the quantity. Too much detail and the reader will fall asleep ;)ReplyDelete
Very good, Helen. I see the point >:)ReplyDelete
Cold As Heaven