Mood, Tone, and Style

By understanding Tone, Mood, and Style, you’ll be able to entice your readers with an opening image and keep them turning pages.

According to Blake Snyder, author of Save the Cat , “the opening image…sets the tone, mood, and style of the movie, and very often introduces the main character and shows us a ‘before’ snapshot of him.” As writers, it is imperative that we begin our novels in the same way.

Tone is Genre. If you’re writing a dark paranormal romance, give the reader an image of what this looks like from the first page, then every page thereafter. Tone, as defined by Wikipedia, is a” literary technique that is a part of composition, which encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the audience implied in a literary work. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate, solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic, guilty, condescending, or many other possible attitudes. Tone and mood are not interchangeable. The tone of a story is often defined as what the author is feeling towards the subject, rather than what the reader feels. What the reader feels is defined as the mood.”

Mood, according to Bestselling Author Dr. Vicki Hinze is defined as “the characters’ (and thus the readers’) emotional reactions to the events occurring in the scenes of the book, and the emotions aroused in the characters/readers by the overall book.” For a more detailed discussion read Vicki Hinze’s Blog on Mood vs Tone

Style (the author’s voice) is the unique way that an author communicates an idea by using syntax and word choice. An author can use sentence length to control their unique style by infusing each sentence with sensory details, figurative language, metaphors, similes, alliteration, and rhythm.

Ask this of your own writing as you visualize the scene:

Is the scene intriguing? Does the writing agree with the genre? Is the main character likeable, redeemable, or sympathetic? Does the story pull you in?  Do you want to know more about main character’s interesting/unique job, situation, or outcome?

By understanding Tone, Mood, and Style, the answer to the questions above will be “Yes” everytime.

Happy Writing, Cyndi Faria

4 thoughts on “Mood, Tone, and Style

  1. Cyndi, another great post on ways to make our stories sing. I’ve been told my writing style is lyrical. Since my first writing love was poetry, that is probably true. I love how sentences sound as they are strung together, like each pearl on a strand.

  2. As always, very good informative advice. Three more things to think about while composing. I wish I had the talent to think about all the things I need to think about and still send the words flying on to the page.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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