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Creating Mood

 By Chrys Fey

Beneath a sky bruised with black and purple clouds, a woman limped down an alley where only criminals or the very desperate would venture. The pavement was slick with slime. Broken bottles and crushed beer cans littered the ground. Every now and then she stepped over a used syringe.

The air in the alley carried the stench of stale alcohol with a pleasant splash of raw vomit and human urine. Graffiti marked the walls; there were gang signs spray-painted in blood red, vulgar words scribbled in anger, and pornographic drawings.

The farther down she went, she realized why the alley was known as “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”. There were several ratty clothed individuals ambling about lifelessly. Their skin was as grey and pasty as the skin of a corpse, their eyes were dark hallows, their lips were cracked and bleeding, and their bones stuck out of their deprived bodies. They looked like they belonged in graves.

Mood is the atmosphere created by the setting and actions of the characters in it. The teaser in the beginning is an excerpt from the first book in my series and an excellent example of mood created by setting. In the excerpt, I depicted a dangerous alley where low lives go to drink and do drugs. The mood is dark and mysterious because I do not introduce or reveal the woman’s identity; it is also pitiful in regards to the state of the inhabitants of the alley.

Mood also relates to how the reader emotionally responds to the setting and the action of characters. One example for how a reader can emotionally respond to mood would be while reading the passage in Dave Pelzer’s book, “A Child Called It” when he is cleaning the infected, puss-filled stab wound on his side. Reading that would make a reader grimace in pain, feel disgust at the ordeal this child had to go through, and even nauseous.

To create mood depict vivid settings, give detail to the actions of your characters, and use emotion. You can do this with force like in Dave Pelzer’s book or subtly by describing a summer afternoon that makes your readers recall the dry, sweltering days from their youth when they would float in a lukewarm pool in effort to stay cool. The mood for such a writing could be happy, leisurely, and nostalgic.

Decide what type of mood you need for your book and become that mood!

Chrys Fey created Write With Fey, a how-to blog about writing a novel. Every Tuesday there is a new post containing tips, inspiration, insight into her series, and much more.

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