Scene Prompt #43: In the mood

For these last couple months’ worth of scene prompts, I’m going to throw in some prompts that might actually work better as scene revision passes rather than prompts for new scenes. But you do whatever you want. So, if you’re ready to write a new scene, have it in mind. Otherwise, pick a scene you’ve already got written (or, hey, do your whole MS).

Today, we’re doing mood.

What to say about mood? It gets roped in with tone a lot. And they’re similar. Tone is how the narrator feels about the material as conveyed through word choice and whatnot. Mood is the story’s atmosphere as conveyed through word choice and whatnot. And both contribute to (or undermine) the other.

The master of mood is probably Stephen King. If anyone can think of an author who’s masterful at mood and who writes something other than horror, please tell us in the comments.

So, anyway, mood: What’s the mood of the project you’re working on? Creepy? Hopeful (an example of why mood and tone often overlap)? Festive? What else? Exciting? If you’re having trouble determining your project’s mood, look to its genre. Action = exciting. Mystery = intriguing. Horror = creepy or scary. Thriller = tense (slightly different from ‘having tension‘ which all stories should have). What else? Romance = romantic or hopeful.

Got your mood? For this prompt, we’re going to write or rewrite or edit–or however you want to approach your scene (or MS!)–for the mood you picked.

Now I don’t know about you, but mood doesn’t necessarily come to me as naturally as it does for Stephen King (yet! Always improving!). So I have some things I do ahead of time that you might find helpful.

  1. Read someone who’s good at the mood you’ve chosen. It’ll help your brain see the goal.
  2. Make a list of words that evoke the mood you’ve chosen and keep this list at hand as you go through your scene so that you can pull those mood-evoking words from the list and slot them into your story wherever they might fit. If you’re editing, look for words you can replace with these more mood-evoking words.
  3. Look at your scene’s setting and see if there are any details you can draw out to evoke the mood you’re after. If the setting is flexible, see if you can pick an entirely different setting that better evokes the mood.
  4. The point-of-view character may or may not share the project’s mood in this scene. If he does, great, but if he doesn’t use contrast between his mood and the project’s mood to enhance both.

Someday we’ll do a post on mood. Until then . . .

Write the scene.

Book that inspired this post

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That’s it for me!

How about you? How do you go about setting the mood in your work? Tell us in the comments!

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Also, people have been hiring me to review their loglines with the kind of analysis seen here and here, and I’m enjoying it. So, if you think your logline (or something else!) might benefit from a looksie and want to hire me to review it, email me at writeswithtools @ gmail dot com.

Thanks!

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