53. Writing Mechanics: Tone & Mood
AND WE'RE BACK! This week Kelly and JJ continue their Writing Mechanics series with TONE & MOOD. As we recorded this before the US election, some of this is...quaint, in hindsight. In the wake of all that’s happened, we decided that we perhaps needed to take some time off, do some self-care, and regroup before continuing on with the podcast. So apologies for the rather unexpected hiatus, but this marks our return to regularly scheduled PubCrawl podcast episodes. Thanks so much for sticking with us.
For Kelly and JJ, a really great mood can forgive a lot of other writing sins in a book.
How language is used is often the biggest contributor to the mood or atmosphere of a book—diction, phrasing, etc.—but setting can also play a huge part in tone.
Imagery is also crucial, but not necessarily just visual description. All the other senses come into play: sight, smell, sound, touch, taste, etc.
Voice also contributes heavily to atmosphere. Voice is related, but not necessarily synonymous with mood and tone.
Books with great tone and mood evokes three-dimensional emotions and feelings in the reader.
If you need examples of tone, reading short stories often helps you pick it out.
Tone is different from emotional trajectory in that it is consistent throughout the text. Tone sets up expectations in the reader as well as to what sort of book they are getting into, therefore one should be intentional about the mood they want to set.
Do tonal research by reading other books with similar atmospheres as yours, but music is a great way to get into the right mood. Pinterest boards are another way to set the mood.
One exercise to practice mood:
Make a list of three emotions/feelings (grief, horror, joy, etc.) and then describe the exact same room with those emotions in mind.
What We're Working On
Kelly is (was) working on NaNoWriMo.
JJ is (was) also trying to write book 2 for NaNoWriMo.
Books Discussed/What We're Reading
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Graces by Laure Eve
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Off Menu Recommendations
Hamilton (as per usual)
Harry Potter World
Hermione's World by Mena (and yes...it's on a Tripod website)
What You're Asking
I was wondering: do you have any tips or tricks on how to write beautiful prose? —Erin Bay
Good prose is a balance between language and clarity. The writing might be lyrical, but if the meaning isn't clear, then it doesn't matter. "Beautiful prose" is subjective. What you find beautiful might now necessarily be what someone else finds beautiful. As they say: keep your eyes on your own paper. Work on clarity and craft and don't think overmuch about your style, because your style is what makes your writing yours.
What You're Saying
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring! ★★★★★ Author Kat I am a writer, a reader, a lover of all kinds of media and this podcast feeds all those parts of me. I listened first to learn more about the industry and writing. I got exactly what I wanted and more. The format of the show is easy to follow as Kelly and JJ discuss the themes of the episode. It feels like joining to old friends for a dynamic conversation. They go off on tangents but I am always right there with them as they always have a great point to make and I can always learn new things from the paths they take in the show. I didn't know I'd come away from the show with so many new things to read and watch. I love their off-menu feature where they talk about other media that they are devouring (Stranger Things! Hamilton!)
I also really enjoy them as hosts. They are both obviously so knowledgeable but they also are fans underneath it all and I adore that. As a writer I think it's so important to be a fan of the genre you write and it's so clear that JJ and Kelly love what they do.
Thank you for this amazing podcast, it has gotten me through writer's block and low times and has been my buddy when I have had personal successes. Every episode is amazing. Also, the production quality is really great!
NOTE: Thank you for the note on the production quality! It was a bit of a steep learning curve, but we're glad it's paying off. Apologies about the tangents—we do tend to ramble a bit, but we're glad we get to the point eventually. :)
BONUS: Here's a picture of White-Harp in her sweater.
That's all for this week! Next week we'll finish up our Writing Mechanics series by getting into the nitty-gritty of writing itself with SENTENCE CRAFT. As always, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments, or reach out to us on Twitter with the hashtag #askpubcrawl.