140 Words To Describe Mood In Fiction

140 Words To Describe Mood In Fiction


What is mood in fiction? How do you create it? We explain mood, with examples, and give you 140 words to describe mood in fiction.

What Is Mood In Fiction?

How readers feel after reading a book or a short story, or after watching a film, is known as the mood in fiction.

Writers use tone to establish a mood in a work of fiction.

While tone is often said to be what the author feels, what the reader feels is known as the mood. This mood affects readers psychologically and emotionally.

[Suggested reading: 155 Words To Describe An Author’s Tone]

We describe mood with adjectives like ‘light-hearted’, ‘nervous’, ‘foreboding’, optimistic’, ‘peaceful’. (Please see the list of examples below.)

How Is A Mood Created?

There are basically five things that allow authors to create a mood:

  1. Setting: The way a setting is described greatly affects the mood. Authors often use foreshadowing in their descriptions.
  2. Style : Our style is the way we use words to tell a story. The way we choose words, the way we structure sentences, and use tenses and figurative language describes our writing style.
  3. Viewpoint: Choosing first, second, or third person viewpoint will affect the mood of a work.
  4. Tone: Tone conveys an attitude towards a topic. It is expressed by our word choices, sentence lengths and use of punctuation. If we use a compassionate tone, our readers may feel sympathetic or empathetic. If we use a depressing tone, our readers will feel sad.
  5. Genre: The genre also affects the mood. A light-hearted romance should make you feel happy. A literary thriller should make you feel unsettled.

In 9 Literary Terms You Need To Know I said: ‘The author creates the mood through his or her style and tone. The way the author describes a setting is important to the atmosphere. The overarching feeling and atmosphere the reader experiences is the mood of the work.’

Obviously the mood created in a work of fiction can change through the course of the story.

Why Is Mood Important?

Mood is necessary for us to engage readers.

As Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We need to make readers feel something when they read our books.

Examples Of Mood In Fiction

1. The Hobbit

In The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, the author makes us feel safe and content. The mood is comforting and hopeful.

How did the author create this?

  1. Setting: He describes homely settings with comforting food.
  2. Style: His style is simple and descriptive.
  3. Tone: His tone is fatherly and parochial.
  4. Viewpoint: The viewpoint is third person, which is the most normal and accepted way of telling a story.
  5. Genre: The mood suits the genre, which is a fantasy adventure.

2. The Rebus Series

In the Rebus detective series by Ian Rankin, the author makes us feel uneasy and curious. There are times when we feel scared and even horrified. When a crime is solved, we feel relieved. The mood is suspenseful and melancholic.

How did the author create this?

  1. Setting: Edinburgh has become a character in the series. The gritty underbelly of the city is unsettling, unyielding, and secretive.
  2. Style: His style is spare and workmanlike.
  3. Tone: His tone is cynical, dispassionate, acerbic.
  4. Viewpoint: The viewpoint is third person.
  5. Genre: The mood suits the genre, which is police-procedural.

3. Bright Lights, Big City

In Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney, the author makes us feel uncomfortable. The character is usually in an altered state and we feel alienated as he tries to keep moving at all costs. The mood is restless and uncomfortable.

How did the author create this?

  1. Setting: Manhattan is impersonal, superficial, and it is a fast-moving, which adds to the mood. We are taken to nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties – in a blur.
  2. Style: Using present tense forces the reader to witness  the humiliations and defeats of the main character in uncomfortable, real-time.
  3. Tone: His tone is satirical, distant, and critical.
  4. Viewpoint: The viewpoint is second person. This choice is perfect for the drug-addicted character. The distancing effect of using ‘you’ allows the character to observe himself in an almost disinterested manner. This is uncomfortable to watch.
  5. Genre: The mood suits the genre, which is literary and unconventional.

Click here for more examples

140 Words To Describe Mood

140 Words To Describe Mood In Fiction

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© Amanda Patterson

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