Mood

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CharleeVale
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Mood

Post by CharleeVale » July 24th, 2011, 11:20 pm

So, my most recent blog post, "Do books come with built in mood lighting" Here: http://charleevale.squarespace.com/blog ... hting.html got a super positive response.

So I thought it might be something we would want to talk about here.

Do you as an author purposely orchestrate the mood of your book? Is it unintentionally something better than you planned?

What books have had a mood that either turned you off, or that you loved?

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dios4vida
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Re: Mood

Post by dios4vida » July 25th, 2011, 3:57 pm

Most of the time the mood of my writing is unintentional. I'm a hard-core pantser so the "it just feels right" is totally the way I write. I'll be typing away and often the right words will come to my brain. The rest of it, I'd say about 30%, is intentional choice. So I guess it's a bit of both. Usually I don't think much of mood though I really should start paying attention to that.

In books, the mood that I loved is Jim Butcher's Dresden world. His supernatural Chicago has the best mood ever. I hated, though, Simon Green's Nightside which is supposed to be very similar to Butcher. He was too dark and macabre. Don't get me wrong, I love some darkness and a bit of the squicky, but he went waaay overboard for my tastes. The writing itself was great, but that mood totally turned me off.
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GKJeyasingham
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Re: Mood

Post by GKJeyasingham » July 25th, 2011, 4:10 pm

dios4vida wrote:Most of the time the mood of my writing is unintentional. I'm a hard-core pantser so the "it just feels right" is totally the way I write. I'll be typing away and often the right words will come to my brain. The rest of it, I'd say about 30%, is intentional choice. So I guess it's a bit of both. Usually I don't think much of mood though I really should start paying attention to that.
Definitely agree with you. When it comes to setting or description or minute details (as opposed to significant plot points), I'm definitely a panster, and I just write whatever feels right. The mood comes off on its own depending on how I imagine the scene to be like. Of course, when I edit it, I try to fix any inconsistencies.

I also think that the mood of a novel should be dynamic. I don't mean it should be volatile, but there should be gradual changes over the course of the novel. For example, stories are rarely ever restricted to humour or drama; there's always a mix of both. The mood should reflect and enhance these emotional changes.

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Re: Mood

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 25th, 2011, 4:31 pm

This may sound crazy to some but when it comes to mood I change the mood of my environment to change the mood of my book! Sad I change the environment in my office, soft I dim the light s some ad candles and soft music. I have found that my environment somehow seeps into the pages. anyone who reads the book will tell me the mood of my book and it will be exactly what I had in my room as i wrote!
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Sanderling
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Re: Mood

Post by Sanderling » July 25th, 2011, 7:47 pm

washingtonwriter1968 wrote:This may sound crazy to some but when it comes to mood I change the mood of my environment to change the mood of my book! Sad I change the environment in my office, soft I dim the light s some ad candles and soft music. I have found that my environment somehow seeps into the pages. anyone who reads the book will tell me the mood of my book and it will be exactly what I had in my room as i wrote!
I do that too! Only not so much the ambient mood as the mood of the music I'm listening to. Like how an emotional scene in a movie is a lot more powerful with a moody soundtrack. More than anything it's the mood of music that really reaches and affects me deeply. Words and visuals don't have the same impact for me, no matter how well-crafted.

I'm mostly oblivious to mood in books when I'm reading. I'm sure it's there and I'm picking it up, but it doesn't register at a conscious level for me.
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wordranger
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Re: Mood

Post by wordranger » July 25th, 2011, 9:55 pm

I don't necessarily go for the mood of an entire novel, but definitely there is a mood to an individual scene. In my current work, I like to do it with the weather, because the weather "reacts" to the mood of my omnipresent God figure. I do have to be careful, though. Once in a while my beta readers have pointed out it comes across as sounding like "It was a dark and stormy night, etc" Which is kind of funny.

I don't think I've ever had an entire sorty in a certain "mood" Different characters just appearing even in a tense scene can totally change to mood and lighten it up... "bring the sun out" so to speak.
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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Mood

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 26th, 2011, 4:52 pm

Mood is unintentional in my books, and it usually dictated by the main character. I typically don't pick up on it until I've written a chapter or two (or four).

The novel that I am querying now is on the darker side. I identified it fairly quickly when I first started writing it--I even got to the point where I could only write late at night on it.

My new project is a 180. It is lighter although it will trend towards darker as the heroine gets "thrown under the bus" by her husband and contemplates suicide as a result.

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HillaryJ
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Re: Mood

Post by HillaryJ » July 27th, 2011, 1:23 am

Great post, Charlee.

I've actually been thinking about this lately because my publisher asked on their cover art sheet what the mood of the story was. And I had no idea. I asked my readers, and they gave very different answers depending on which scenes affected them the most. It was a reminder to me that reading is always subjective and that, even if I had focused on building a certain mood, the readers would still have focused on the scenes and characters that most profoundly resonated with them. And, quite frankly, if I'd focused on creating an all-encompassing mood, I think the book would have read a little flat.

When you mentioned the mood of a few books being uncomfortable because of certain scenes or, especially, terrible things happening to the characters you identify with, I absolutely understand that. I think the only time an uncomfortable or depressing mood really works for me is when the book includes redemption. It doesn't have to swing toward happiness or good fortune at the end. But there has to be something, a moment or a revelation, that makes a difficult journey worthwhile.
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polymath
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Re: Mood

Post by polymath » July 27th, 2011, 9:57 am

The thread title gave me a start. No way someone else here is straying into the rareified airs of linguistic theory and semiotic theory. Way? Please? KInd of. Grammatical mood overlaps several areas of emotional and ambience moods. Linguistics: Language: Voice: Mood and Attitude. Emotion. Grammatical mood signals by syntactical verbal inflection an atttitude toward a subject, be it emotional or not, which not emotional is an emotion too. In combination with aural intonation or inflection and body language, both moods apply to spoken expression. Written word moods can carry a lot of the aural and visual freight of speech moods, that are otherwise lost in translation, when they report interpretable intonation and body language.

Mehrabian's communication studies conclude, for conversation, "7% happens in spoken words [the words themselves], 38% happens through voice tone, 55% happens via general body language." "It's not just words: a lot [of] communication comes through non-verbal communication. Without seeing and hearing non-verbals, it is easier to misunderstand the words. When we are unsure about words and when we trust the other person less, we pay more attention to the non-verbals of what we hear and see." [1] Though there's a lot of controversy and dissent about Mehrabian's methods and conclusions, they do illustrate why written word communication is more challenging expression than everyday conversation.

Written word expression must make up the deficits. It is very easy to miscommunicate and be misunderstood through writing. Grammatical mood is one area that makes up for visual and arural deficits. Written expression of visual and aural sensations and a focal persona's attitude and therefore emotional mood toward them covers for those deficits.

Whose mood? Whose attitude? A narrator's? A viewpoint character's? I'm partial to a viewpoint character's, though a strongly held narrator attitude will do almost as well. Subconscious questions readers ask until they're satisfied they know the answer:

What is the persona's attitude toward the subject? Certain, even if from a logically flawed perspective? Then the grammatical mood might be the realis mood, or the indicative mood. "The indicative mood, or evidential mood, is used for factual statements and positive beliefs." [2] This post and many of my posts are written in an indicative mood. For example, Geraldine marched down Broadway. Brooks no doubt, doesn't it? That latter sentence is in an irrealis mood, the interrogative mood. Note it's the verb marched that expresses both emotional mood and grammatical mood.

Is a persona's attitude uncertain? Irrealis moods express "necessity, possibility, requirement, wish or desire, fear, or part of counterfactual reasonings, etc." [2] And doubt. Other irrealis moods include subjunctive, conditional, optative, jussive, potential, and imperative. Though English verbs only express formally the indicative, subjunctive, and imperative moods, the other moods are often expressed through syntatical or periphrastical clause constructions rather than through inflected verb constructions. Or, actually, through aural inflections, tone of voice, and nonverbal expression inflections, such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language, in everyday conversations or expressed artfully in written word communications.

[1] Changingminds.org. Mehrabian's Communication Study. http://changingminds.org/explanations/b ... rabian.htm
[2] Wikipedia. Grammatical Mood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_mood
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