Saturday, 22 February 2014

In a nutshell - Mood and Tone

In a nutshell – Mood and Tone

So we’ve covered characters, details and symbolism in this ‘In a Nutshell’ series and as part of The Bittersweet Vine blog tour. The next two topics I would like to cover are Mood and Tone. 

So what exactly is tone? They say that when you are having words with someone via text or email that it is difficult to judge the senders tone and therefore things said one way can be taken another. You must have experienced this yourself. You read a text- perhaps an innocent – ‘you weren’t there at Ally’s party.’ Perhaps the person sending it is thinking I really missed you being there. But you have had words with this friend before you know what a drama queen she can be, You imagine that she is talking behind your back with your other friends and you read the message with a derogatory tone. Instantly you delete this friend from your list of contacts but later when you meet her face to face you realise it was all just a misunderstanding.  You also know what its like when you (at a much younger age) answer your mother Tone is therefore a mixture of two things: attitude and emotional atmosphere.

And, of course, this tone is dictated by the author. The tone in which you write will dictate the way the book is ready. Now, you may not have thought about this before you started writing your manuscript, and all is fine within your book. You subconsciously may have written in a tone (mostly through the plot- think suspense, mystery, comedy) and your readers can pick up on this. But think about it as you edit. For example Chupplejeep is light hearted- its comedy. Yes there may be dead people and murders but the way they go about solving the case is quite different. It’s not too serious. It’s an hour or two of entertainment, there is no psychological mystery that will make you question those around you like some psychological thrillers do (and what I hope you do when you read The Bittersweet Vine or  Poison in the Water).

As authors we need to create the right tone for the reader throughout the story which will feed into the overarching mood of the book. Why? To prevent misunderstanding and to signpost readers; tone can help with plot and can move the story along as well as setting the right atmosphere for your reader- remember you want to transport your reader to a different time and place when they are reading your book! (Yes our jobs are so difficult! So much to accomplish in 90,000 words or less!)

Mood is the feeling a reader will take away from your writing and more often than not from your characters and their point of view. When you write from a POV you want the reader to get inside that character’s head and therefore the reader will take on their mood. If your character is a happy go lucky character you will have something quite joyous and light hearted in that part of the book. If your detective is depressive and temperamental then the mood of that part of your chapter will be sombre. The mood can change from chapter to chapter and I think it’s quite important to have various moods throughout the book (why? It creates more drama, more tension and remember for some authors it’s about taking their readers on an emotional rollercoaster).

In my last nutshell post we talked about atmosphere being reflected through the weather. We can use this example again to set mood. Thundery weather = a bad mood. Rain = tears (well not so clichéd but you know what I mean). The words you use will also affect tone. For example if your character is down beat and uses negative words – you will create a negative mood!


Tone and mood will contribute to the atmosphere of the book and when you are hosting a party you want the right atmosphere (you want guests to be happy and have a good time)- it should be the same when you write a book- you want your readers to feel certain emotions- happy, sad etc. The tone and the mood you create will affect the atmosphere of your book. Have a think about the mood and tone of your book as it’s another element that may get you that agent or make those sales! It is also a good to be aware of this in regards to genre writing. If you are going for a mystery or thriller you need buckets of tension and suspense – red herrings and dark alleys and only you, the writer can create this! 

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