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Mood and Tone

          Kind of in a bad mood at the moment, but I figured I should post regardless. So since I am in a bit of a bad mood, I figure today is the perfect time to talk about mood and tone in a novel.

          Basically, the mood or the tone is the overall feeling the writer sets up in the novel with the tone being more or less a reflection of how the narrator feels if the narrator feels anything and the mood being the atmosphere created by the emotions of the characters... or at least that's what I think. Some people might switch it around.

          That pretty much implies that the narrator and the characters' feelings about a situation don't have to match and since the tone of the narrator, at least in third and first person, usually match the tone or are similar to that of the main character, it might be that the M's mood or outlook doesn't match the actual situation or the other characters. Your MC may be hopeful in a ominous situation, skeptical in a hopeful situation, absolutely psychotic and unfeeling in an emotional situation.
          It's difficult to tell sometimes what the narrator feels as usually the reader gets caught up into what the characters feel, but readers can pick up on a narrator that doesn't care or whatever the tone is, and word choice has a lot to do with that. For instance saying that, "The girl lost her balance and slipped down the bank into the rushing river," sounds different from, "Not paying attention to where she was stepping on the muddy bank, the girl lost her footing, and yelped as she felt down the slippery bank into the rushing river."

          See how both of those sound different. The detail the narrator makes care of describing makes it seem more important, less impersonal. The first sentence can be said in real life and show the same feeling, but unfortunately writers don't have the luxury of making you hear how something is said. So we have to rely on word choice to convey the mood. Sure we could have used and exclamation point, but too many of those get tacky.

          All in all, it is up to the discretion of the writer to decide what mood and tone they want, although it is easier if they're both similar. It takes practice to use a conflicting mood and tone and the readers will pick up on it. As always with writing, there is no right or wrong way to put it. My style? The narrator is usually always aware and have the right tone way before my characters come to the realization and get in the mood, but that's just me. It also makes the perfect set up for denial.

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Christy Peake said...

Working on "tone" right now. I go from way too silly o way too dark...