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What is Mood in Literature? Mood Definition and Examples

example of mood in creative writing

by Fija Callaghan

Some books are tailor-made for sweltering beach days, cool drinks, and hours of blissful nothingness as far as the eye can see. Others are made for dark, foreboding nights by the fire (maybe with a friend nearby in case the monsters under the bed get any funny ideas). Some books give you chills, others make you laugh, and still others make you think.

Authors have a lot of tools at their disposal when it comes to creating an engaging atmosphere for the reader. In this article, we’ll be talking about a story’s mood —what it means, how to build it within your story world, and some helpful literary examples from effective novels.

What is mood in literature?

A story’s mood is defined as the emotional response the story creates within the reader. A story might have one of many moods, like a humorous mood, a somber mood, or an uplifting mood. Writers can use tools like setting, imagery, and descriptive language to create mood, which makes the story even seem more immersive and real.

Creating these emotional responses in the reader is essential in making them care about your carefully crafted characters, conflicts, and plot. While longer works such as novels (less so in poetry and short stories) may utilize different moods in different chapters, most literary works of any length will have an overall predominant mood that the reader associates with that work.

For instance, cozy mysteries and fantasies may have tense moments as the conflicts progress, but the novel as a whole will have an overall mood that’s comforting and safe.

We’ll look closer at the different moods you might encounter, and the different ways of creating mood in a story, below.

What’s the difference between literary mood and grammatical mood?

When writers talk about mood, there are two different things they might be referring to: literary mood and grammatical mood. While they share similarities, they’re not quite the same thing.

Grammatical mood refers to the different ways a sentence can be structured to convey the intention behind it. There are five grammatical moods:

Indicative (It’s raining outside)

Imperative (Put your coat on; it’s raining!)

Interrogative (Do you think it will rain all day?)

Conditional (If it stops raining soon, we could go for a walk)

Subjunctive (I suggested we postpone the picnic due to the rain)

While each of these sentences does have a different feel to it, grammatical mood is a specific set of structural parameters. Literary mood, by contrast, reflects the entire overall feeling of a piece of writing. In this article, we’ll be focusing on literary mood.

What’s the difference between mood vs. tone?

In writing, tone refers to the author or narrator’s attitude in a story, while mood refers to the overall sensation the reader gets from reading a piece of writing.

Specifically, tone is the way the author or narrator’s voice sounds on the page. This is achieved by careful attention to sentence structure, syntax, and particular word choices that give the words a certain feel. A narrator’s tone might be critical, encouraging, romantic, aggressive, playful, or more.

Mood refers to the overall sensation a reader gets from reading a piece of writing. Tone of voice contributes to mood, but mood is much broader than tone and incorporates several different literary elements .

Read more about using tone as a literary device in writing .

Mood is the overall atmosphere of a story, while tone is the narrator or author’s attitude.

What’s the difference between mood vs. atmosphere?

Mood and atmosphere are often used interchangeably to describe the overall sensation within a story or poem. While they overlap and inform each other, there’s one key difference.

Atmosphere is the general feeling that’s present within a story, built up out of literary devices like setting, conflict, and characterization. This is what creates the mood that the reader experiences. In other words, atmosphere is an intentional construction, while mood is an organic response.

For example, you might walk into an old church that has a dark and somber atmosphere, which creates a nervous and reverential mood in those within it. The church itself doesn’t feel nervous—it’s only an architectural structure. However, its parts come together to create an atmosphere, which in turn create mood.

Different moods you’ll find in writing

There are many different ways to describe mood in literature, and a myriad of nuances your reader might experience. Let’s look at the different types of emotional responses a story might have.

Uplifting stories, also known as “feel-good” stories, leave the reader feeling refreshed and hopeful. This is a popular mood for romance novels and women’s fiction, but any genre can be written in an uplifting way. These novels also tend to get a lot of word-of-mouth traction, because they make readers feel good at the end and want to recommend them to their friends.

Here are some of the mood adjectives to keep in mind when creating an uplifting mood for your story:

Sentimental

Humorous novels make the readers laugh at the characters, the world, and sometimes even themselves. But this mood isn’t just about slapstick comedy—a humorous mood involves being playful, lighthearted, and not taking yourself too seriously.

Here are some mood adjectives to think about while trying to capture a humorous mood for your story:

Lighthearted

You don’t need to keep a consistent mood on every page—you can have several moods across different chapters.

A foreboding mood is a cornerstone of mystery and horror novels, but you can incorporate this mood into a whole range of stories. Some literary fiction uses an overall foreboding mood when they want to get the reader thinking about pressing social or political issues (like 1984 ). More often, however, foreboding moods will dominate some chapters of a novel, but not others.

Here are some key adjectives to help you build a foreboding mood:

Pessimistic

A pensive mood is thought-provoking and introspective. It encourages readers to consider deep philosophical questions about what they’ve read and the choices they’ve witnessed over the course of a story. These novels often make great discussion points for reading groups and book clubs.

Here are some mood adjectives to think about when writing a story with a pensive mood:

Melancholic

Sympathetic

You’ll notice that some of these moods can overlap, and some, like pensive, can be positive or negative. Remember—you can have more than one mood in your novel, depending on what you’re trying to communicate in each given moment.

Nostalgic, Ominous, and Optimistic are just a few of the words you can use to describe mood in a story.

You may find it helpful to write down some of these mood examples before you begin writing a new scene, and to take a moment to consider how those words make you feel. If you give yourself a clear idea of precisely what specific mood you want your reader to be feeling, those emotions will come across stronger on the page.

Examples of mood in literature

To see how this emotional quality looks in practice, let’s look at a few novels that have successfully evoked rich moods for their readers.

The Princess Bride , by William Goldman

“Good-by, little Domingo,” Yeste would say then. “Although I die in your hut, and although it is your own stubborn fault that causes my ceasing, in other words, even though you are killing me, don’t think twice about it. I love you as I always have and God forbid your conscience should give you any trouble.” He pulled open his coat, brought the knife closer, closer. “ The pain is worse than I imagined! ” Yeste cried. “How can it hurt when the point of the weapon is still an inch away from your belly?” Domingo asked. “I’m anticipating, don’t bother me, let me die unpestered.” Domingo grabbed the knife away. “Someday I won’t stop you,” he said.

The mood in this moment is sharply in contrast with what’s actually happening. Dude is preparing to off himself(!), and yet there’s never the sense that he’s in any real danger. The scene uses a playful mood to reveal the dramatic nature of Yeste’s character, and the comfortable nature of the friendship between the two men.

The juxtaposition between the implication (i.e. unfathomable pain) and the reality (a small temper tantrum) makes the reader laugh and feel that everything will be alright in the end.

Other Birds , by Sarah Addison Allen

Oliver winked at Zoey, who almost tripped down the stairs. Sometimes the dynamic of their relationship was so comfortably platonic that she wanted nothing to change, like when Oliver sat with her on her balcony in the evenings after work. Most of the time they simply stared out at the garden, every once in a while turning to smile at each other as if they couldn’t quite believe this was their life now, that they were actually adults being trusted to navigate this world on their own. But once, he’d reached over and taken her hand and kissed it for no reason she could think of. It was as if she’d touched something electric, and she’d found herself thinking she would be perfectly okay if everything changed.

This moment at the end of the protagonist’s coming-of-age journey is hopeful, nostalgic, whimsical, and peaceful all at once. The moment itself is very small, but the author takes her time to explore its feelings and nuances.

This example shows how you can create a powerful mood by really leaning into an instant in time and fleshing out what it means—where the characters have come from, and where they’re going next.

Spells For Forgetting , by Adrienne Young

A few more days, and the ferries would stop. The orchard would be closed for the winter, and this year, it couldn’t come soon enough. The sharp snap of a limb made my steps slow, and I looked up to where a flash of something skittered ahead, disappearing around the bend in the road. A familiar prick crawled over my skin and I knew that feeling—like a sudden fever. When I was a child, the island’s whispers had been like the sound of my mother humming to herself as she crouched in the garden, or the familiar groan of waves crashing on the rocky shore. But I’d learned a long time ago that sometimes they brought unwelcome fates.

This Pacific Northwest gothic novel uses a powerful setting (a spooky island in the mist) to enhance its mood and themes. Pay attention to how the word choice creates an ominous mood—words like winter, crawled, fever, whispers, the groan of waves crashing—as well as the way the author uses sharp consonance to heighten the tension—words like sharp snap, skittered, prick, and rocky.

This early scene has a general feeling of foreboding and makes the reader want to pull their blankets in closer to find out what happens next.

Mood, atmosphere, and tone can elevate a story and make a reader feel more engaged with your message.

Examples of mood in poetry

Mood is a huge part of the experience of reading and hearing poetry as well. Here are some poems that create particularly effective moods for the reader.

“Litany,” by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine. You are the dew on the morning grass and the burning wheel of the sun. You are the white apron of the baker, and the marsh birds suddenly in flight. However, you are not the wind in the orchard, the plums on the counter, or the house of cards. And you are certainly not the pine-scented air. There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

This poem was written as a satire of the overly descriptive love poetry that has been so popular throughout history. It begins as soft, romantic, and whimsical, and then takes a sudden turn as the speaker puts on the breaks and sets limitations on their romanticism. It moves from formal language to jarringly colloquial: “There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.” This creates a familiarity with the reader, as if they’re sharing in a private joke.

“The Eve of St. Agnes,” by John Keats

She hurried at his words, beset with fears, For there were sleeping dragons all around, At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears— Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.— In all the house was heard no human sound. A chain-droop’d lamp was flickering by each door; The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound, Flutter’d in the besieging wind’s uproar; And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.

This much older poem depicts a mediaeval love story between an impressionable young maiden and a rapscallion of a teenage boy (coincidentally, the basis of many of literature’s most famous romances); at this moment, they’re fleeing together as the girl’s family sleeps off their drunken revelries from the night before. In this context, “dragons” is a metaphor for her brothers, who will probably slaughter the poor bloke if they wake.

This excerpt uses dark, threatening imagery such as the sleeping dragons, the “darkling way” of their escape route, and the “besieging wind” of the storm outside to create a thrilling and ominous moon for the reader. Each suspenseful, gothic-infused moment leaves the reader clinging to the page, waiting to find out what happens next.

“A Brave and Startling Truth,” by Maya Angelou

When we come to it We, this people, on this wayward, floating body Created on this earth, of this earth Have the power to fashion for this earth A climate where every man and every woman Can live freely without sanctimonious piety Without crippling fear When we come to it We must confess that we are the possible We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world That is when, and only when We come to it.

This entire poem is bursting at the seams with hope for a better future. Angelou makes allusions throughout to warfare, cruelty, and fear, but her core message is that these things can be overcome with strength, resilience, and love. She uses the fourth-person “we” to create a sense of solidarity in the reader, and uses key mood words like “miraculous” and “wonder” to instil a feeling of optimism and renewal.

How to enhance your story’s mood

Mood comes down to a number of different factors which all come together to create a larger, broader sensation. Here are some of the literary devices you can use when establishing mood that will tug on the reader’s emotions.

Pay attention to setting

As any writer of the gothic will tell you, setting is huge when it comes to creating the desired mood in a story. Think about the eerie feeling evoked by Dracula’s castle, or the ominous mood around a decrepit summer fair overrun with vermin and rust.

A richly developed setting can have a big impact on a story’s mood.

You can link setting to character too as a way of creating an emotional connection to the story. For instance, you can evoke a sad mood or a sense of nostalgia by sending your protagonist back to their childhood home—a place of carefree happiness that they will never know again. Look for ways to use place and memory to enhance the mood of your story.

You can read more about setting in literature at our dedicated article .

Use evocative imagery

Often, the emotions evoked in a story come from the way the writer engages their senses. A writer can create a tense atmosphere by appealing to a reader’s visual sense with dark shadows, or convey a happy mood by appealing to a reader’s olfactory sense with comforting scents of home. Although we often think of sight when we think of the word “image,” vivid sensory imagery can be perceived in all sorts of different ways.

When approaching a scene, think about the way different sights, scents, sounds, and other sensations make you feel. You can even brainstorm before you begin by writing down some images that are associated with certain emotions—which may even lead to new twists and turns in your story.

For more ideas and ways to dive into each of these senses, head over to our lesson on imagery here .

Carefully plan your word choice

The right words, and even sounds, can have a big impact on the emotion evoked in the reader. Poets know this very well, but it’s a great tool for fiction writers too. Consider things like diction, dialect, and syntax—the arrangement of words in a sentence.

Certain words or narrative styles are instinctively associated with certain moods. For instance, onomatopoeic language creates a whimsical mood in a story or poem, while words with a lot of hard consonants ( D s, T s, and K s) tends to create more of a tense, erratic atmosphere. You can experiment with the way different words, sounds, and phrases make you feel a certain way by listing all the words that come to mind when you think of a chosen mood.

Think about your story’s genre

Genre preconception also plays a large role in the mood of a literary work. Much of this comes down to how a book is marketed—its cover and its place in the bookshop. If a reader picks up a horror novel, they’re expecting to feel anxious, thrilled, and tense. If a reader picks up a romance novel, they’re expecting to feel romantic, lighthearted, and playful. If you know what genre you want to write in, you can pinpoint the sorts of moods your readers will be looking for and enhance them to make even more of an impact.

When readers pick up a certain genre, they’re usually expecting a certain mood to go with it.

This doesn’t mean you can’t invert the reader’s expectations and create something entirely different—for instance, a mystery novel that’s unexpectedly poignant and uplifting. But it definitely helps to be aware of these expectations so you can use them or thwart them in an intentional, creative way.

Mood works to elevate your story to the next level

A story’s mood is something a lot of writer’s overlook because we’re not necessarily aware of it as readers—at least not consciously. But mood can make a huge difference in the way we perceive a literary work. Whether through sensual, fantastical imagery or through precise, targeted word choice, you can bring mood into your own work for an even stronger emotional response from your readers.

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Table of contents

example of mood in creative writing

Alana Chase

Writing with emotion is an important skill for all writers — bloggers, novelists, copywriters, journalists, students, and many others. It can help you connect with your readers, persuade your audience, or simply bring your ideas to life with flair. 

But you might be unsure how to do it or what “emotive writing” really is.

In my 11-year career as an editor and writing coach, I’ve guided numerous students to become well-versed in emotive writing — writing that stirs up genuine emotions and captivates readers. 

In this article, I’ll share 12 ways to infuse your work with emotion. I’ve also included examples to illustrate the difference between emotive and non-emotive writing, plus a bonus tip to help you succeed.

Key takeaways

  • Emotive writing enables you to connect with or persuade your audience by eliciting genuine emotions.
  • You can use various techniques to convey emotion in writing — from employing sensory language and sharing anecdotes to using strong verbs and adjusting your tone.
  • AI tools like Wordtune can help enhance your writing and ensure you strike the right chord with your audience.

12 tips for writing with emotion

All that stands between you and emotive writing are some essential tips and tricks. Let’s explore my top 12 below.

Tip #1 - Use active voice

Choosing active voice (where a subject performs an action) over passive voice (where an action is done to a subject) enhances the emotional impact of your writing by emphasizing the person or thing responsible for the action.

For example:

Passive voice: “Yvette was betrayed by Marcos.”
Active voice: “Marcos betrayed Yvette.”

Here, active voice places responsibility firmly on Marcos, making his betrayal of Yvette more impactful. This makes it easier for readers to sympathize with Yvette and feel anger toward Marcos.

The easiest way to nail active voice is to always put the “doer” (subject) at the start of the sentence. Follow up with the action (verb), then the receiver of the action (object).

“Mika (subject) longed for (verb) the familiar sights and sounds of her hometown (object).”

AI tip: Wordtune can help you switch from passive to active voice in seconds. Highlight a sentence and tap the Rewrite button in Wordtune’s Editor to generate a list of suggested replacements.

The Rewrite button in Wordtune’s Editor suggests various sentence replacements, including some that turn passive voice into active voice.

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

Tip #2 - Use sensory language

You can evoke specific emotions with your writing by using language that plays on the five senses (touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound). Sensory language also helps create vivid images in the reader’s mind, allowing them to better connect with what you’re saying.

For example, writing “the rough texture of his sandpaper-like hands” can convey discomfort and irritation. Meanwhile, “the sweet aroma of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls” can communicate comfort and joy, and “the incessant, rhythmic ticking of the clock” can evoke anxiety.

On a similar note, avoid stating emotions outright. Instead, demonstrate emotions through actions, body language, experiences, or atmospheric details‌ — show, don’t tell. This makes for a more engaging reading experience.

For example: “I felt terrified.” → “My legs trembled violently and a chill ran down my spine as I climbed up the rusty ladder. With each creaky step, the floor below me seemed to grow further away.”

Tip #3 - Incorporate similes, metaphors, and symbols

Similes (which compare two things) and metaphors (which equate one thing to another) are powerful tools for making your writing more emotive.

Here are some examples:

  • Simile: “Her smile was like sunshine after rain , brightening everyone’s day.” This evokes positivity and creates striking images in the reader’s mind.
  • Metaphor: “Your potential is a dormant volcano , waiting to erupt with success.” This inspires feelings of inspiration and eagerness. When used in a marketing or advertising context, it can persuade the reader to take action — e.g., by buying your product or signing up for your service.

Additionally, you can incorporate symbols to represent emotions throughout your writing. For example, a wilting flower can symbolize fading hope, while a lighthouse beacon can communicate determination and resilience.

Tip: Avoid clichés in symbolism — e.g., a lightbulb to signify an idea — to prevent your work from sounding dry and predictable. Instead, choose symbols that are unique and relevant to your piece of writing.

Tip #4 - Add personal anecdotes

Share personal experiences from your life to make your writing resonate emotionally. For example, if you’re writing about the importance of hard work, you could tell a story about a time you overcame a difficult challenge through perseverance.

Anecdotes like these provide a personal touch that draws readers in and encourages them to connect with your writing.

Tip #5 - Opt for emotive adjectives

Emotive adjectives demand attention and elicit strong emotional reactions in readers. “Breathtaking” conjures feelings of awe and wonder, for instance, while “serene” evokes peace and tranquility, and “menacing” conveys fear.

Using emotive adjectives can help you persuade your audience. For example, if you’re selling a product, you could use adjectives such as “cutting-edge” or “top-rated” to generate curiosity and give the product a positive appeal.

Apple uses tons of emotive adjectives in its ad copy, describing the iPhone 15 Pro’s Dynamic Island tool as “a magical way to interact with iPhone.” The company used adjectives like “phenomenal,” “amazing,” “incredible,” “industry-first,” and “aerospace-grade” to detail the phone’s other features.

These words all help evoke feelings of admiration and excitement within Apple’s existing audience and potential new customers.

Apple uses emotive adjectives such as “phenomenal” in ad copy for the iPhone 15 Pro’s 48MP camera.

Tip #6 - Replace adverb phrases with strong verbs

Adverb phrases tend to use vague terms like “softly” or “quickly”. ​​​​Replacing adverb phrases with strong verbs in your writing allows readers to experience the action more directly, encouraging a greater emotional response.

  • “walked slowly” (adverb phrase) → “crept” (strong verb, evokes anticipation or fear)
  • “cried loudly” (adverb phrase” → “wailed” (strong verb, conveys intense sorrow)
  • “looked angrily” (adverb phrase) → “glared” (strong verb, suggests hostility)

Tip #7 - Use white space strategically

White space — the empty areas between lines and paragraphs on a page — influences the pacing of your writing. Lots of white space gives readers “breathing room” and speeds up reading. On the other hand, minimal white space slows readers down and encourages them to absorb your words.

Experimenting with white space lets you control your writing’s emotional rhythm and impact.

For example, place a sentence on its own line to create a sense of importance and amplify its emotional weight. Or, use lots of short paragraphs to generate anticipation or long paragraphs to convey seriousness and intensity.

Tip #8 - Vary your sentence structure

You can convey a range of emotions by switching up the structure and length of your sentences.

Short sentences with simple structures can suggest stress, danger, or excitement. Meanwhile, longer sentences with more elaborate structures can imply longing, sadness, admiration, or regret.

Let’s look at two examples from The Great Gatsby:

  • Short sentences: “She narrowed her eyes and shivered. Lucille shivered. We all turned and looked around for Gatsby.”
  • Long sentences: “It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole eternal world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”

Use one or the other — or a mix of both — depending on the emotion(s) you want to infuse into your writing.

AI tip: Condense or lengthen your sentences in a snap using Wordtune’s Shorten and Expand features.

Wordtune’s Shorten feature suggests options to condense a sentence.

Tip #9 - Strike the right tone

Tone defines the mood of your writing — relaxed, serious, humorous, friendly, etc. — so aligning it with the emotion(s) you want to convey is key. 

Say you want to evoke joy in your writing. Ensure your tone is lively and filled with positive language. For example, instead of writing, “I was happy,” say, “My heart was bursting with happiness, and my skin tingled with elation.”

Or, perhaps you want to convey a sense of urgency in a persuasive piece. Go for an authoritative tone, using formal language and clear, assertive statements. For example: “Time is of the essence. Failure to act now will have dire consequences.”

AI tip: With Wordtune, perfecting tone of voice is easy. Open the Wordtune Editor, begin writing (or paste your work in), highlight the text, and tap the Casual or Formal button. Wordtune will generate several options to make your writing more conversational or more serious.

Wordtune’s Casual button takes a highlighted sentence and suggests a more conversational alternative.

Tip #10 - Incorporate humor

Humor can help you convey many emotions in your writing — from happiness to empathy and everything in between. (Using humor is also one of the best ways to tailor your writing for a Gen Z audience and make your social media content more relatable.)

Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Incorporate puns and other wordplay. For example: “After an hour waiting in line for the rollercoaster, I felt like I’d been competing in a show called Survivor: Theme Park Edition .” This highlights the narrator’s frustration and exhaustion through a humorous play on language.
  • Sprinkle in sarcasm, irony, or satire. Comment on society’s quirks or the strangeness of everyday life to evoke amusement and introspection. Use sarcasm — e.g., “Another flat tire: just what I was hoping for!” — to express emotions like irritation, frustration, or doubt.
  • Surprise the reader. Drop a witty remark or punchline when the audience least expects it — for example, after a tense scene or moment of danger. This contrast can make both the lighthearted and poignant moments in your writing more impactful.

Tip: Be mindful of your piece’s tone and context to ensure the humor lands well. If the humor doesn’t fit, leave it out (and use some of the other tips on this list instead).

Tip #11 - Tap into nostalgia

As in life, nostalgia is a potent force in writing. It can stir feelings of comfort, happiness, sentimental longing, or sadness in readers.

​​You can also use nostalgia to elicit specific emotions and persuade an audience. In fact, this is a popular marketing technique. Advertisers and copywriters will create nostalgic scenes that remind consumers of fond memories and motivate them to buy a product.

Below are some ways to tap into nostalgia in your writing.

  • Use cultural references to jog readers’ memories of bygone eras. This is especially effective when your references are tied to certain events and trends, such as movie releases, music movements, or historical moments.
  • Explore common human experiences such as childhood friendships, family gatherings, and milestones like first heartbreak. Create new scenes that dive into these moments, or share personal anecdotes from your past that mirror these experiences.
  • Use slang from specific eras (e.g., “bodacious” or “gnarly” from the ‘80s) to transport readers back in time and evoke emotions they associate with the period.
  • Implement sensory language when describing the past . For instance, you might describe the taste of a dessert you once loved, the sound of a familiar song, or the scent of your childhood home.

Tip #12 - Use contrast

Amplify the intensity of the emotions in your writing by contrasting “highs” (positive emotions) with “lows” (negative emotions). Juxtapose emotions like joy and sorrow, love and heartbreak, or fear and excitement to make each feel more impactful.

You might also explore contrasting images, settings, or time periods to evoke emotions. For example, depicting a bright, sunny day following a dark, stormy night can convey hope. Also, moving from the past to the present can underscore, for instance, a main character’s longing for the way things used to be.

Bonus tip: Go slow and be sparing

Emotions often hit harder in writing when there’s a build-up to them. For example, hard-won happiness feels more impactful than sudden joy, and lingering grief resonates more than occasional sadness.

So, take time crafting your narrative and laying the emotional groundwork — really “earn” the feelings . Readers will be more likely to invest in and connect with your writing when you do.

Finally, remember that emotive language is like spice : it can add fantastic depth and flavor, but too much of it can overwhelm the senses. Use it sparingly to ensure readers are drawn in, not put off.

Knowing how to convey emotion in your writing helps you pack a punch with words and connect with your audience — whether you’re looking to tug at their heartstrings or convince them of something.

With the tips outlined in this guide (and some help from Wordtune’s tools), mastering emotive writing can be easy and fun. You can play on readers’ senses with descriptive language, share personal anecdotes, incorporate emotive adjectives, use humor, and more. 

Continue leveling up your writing by exploring our guides on rewriting sentences so they don’t sound bland and proofreading to keep your work flawless .

What is it called when you use emotion in writing?

Using emotion in writing is called “emotive writing.” The writer uses expressive language and storytelling techniques to convey feelings, evoke emotional responses, and create a lasting impact on readers.

How do you describe your emotions in writing?

In writing, you can convey your emotions by using descriptive, sensory language and sharing personal experiences.

What are emotive adjectives?

Emotive adjectives are descriptive words that evoke a specific emotional response from readers. Examples include “appalling,” “heartbreaking,” “exhilarating,” “thrilling,” and “enchanting.”

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Julianne Berokoff

Emotive Language in Creative Writing, & How to Use It in a Story

We’re going to talk about the magic around emotive language in creative writing, and why every writer out there needs to use it.

Get ready to unpack a real-life excerpt, identify the emotive language , and investigate how to write for optimal emotional impact .

“People don’t turn to stories to experience what you, the writer, have experienced— or even what your characters have. They read to have their own experience” – David Corbett, Writer’s Digest

I read this wonderful article from  Writer’s Digest  discussing feeling and emotion, and how they both function within a story. Two quotes really stuck out to me, one of which you just read above. 

I love the idea that readers read for their own experience . And it is so true! They don’t want you to dictate facts or write dogma. They don’t want to be ‘told’. They want to feel the journey, the relationships, the conflicts, for themselves.

Which is great news for you, you fancy writer, you, because that’s what emotive writing is all about.

Second quote from David Corbett:

Feeling requires introspection, which thus necessitates identification with the character and empathy for what she faces. […] Readers process their own emotions and interpretation of events while the character is doing so, not necessarily in parallel or even consciously.

In order to feel the experience for themselves, readers have to identify with the character, and be put into their shoes. They do this through empathy or sharing feelings with another being through understanding.

** Essentially, if you offer an effective emotional experience, your reader will empathize with your character/story instantly. **

This means– you guessed it –emotive language is a huge part of creative writing.

Emotive language, according to Writing Explained, is:

… word choice that is used to evoke emotion.

The language is just as important as presentation. Strategic presentation = writing for emotional impact.

It’s not about stuffing your pages full of emotionally-charged words and calling it quits. You’ll overwhelm and confuse your readers!

Below, I’m keeping it simple. Purposefully. In our excerpt, you’ll notice the language is almost bare, while  still  being emotionally-charged. You’ll see how the few strong images, paired with precise word choices make a massive impact without being too much. A little goes a long way!

Hopefully, this will give you a solid understanding of how to write for optimal emotional impact! Let’s do this!

“People don_t turn to stories to experience what you, the writer, have experienced— or even what your characters have. They read to have their own experience”– David Corbett (1

I chose this excerpt from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone , Chapter 12: The Mirror of Erised

(Potterhead for life!!)

Now, if you know anything about Harry Potter, you’ll know that Harry grew up an orphan. His parents were murdered when he was a baby, and he spent his years growing up in an abusive house.

Even though he lived with his aunt, uncle and cousin, Harry received no love from them. In this excerpt, Harry is running through the castle at night as he’s chased by authority figures, and slips into a room to hide, when …

It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi . His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself but see no reflection again. He stepped in front of it. He had to clap his hands to his mouth to stop himself from screaming. He whirled around. His heart was pounding far more furiously than when the book had screamed — for he had seen not only himself in the mirror, but a whole crowd of people standing right behind him. But the room was empty. Breathing very fast, he turned slowly back to the mirror. There he was, reflected in it, white and scared-looking, and there, reflected behind him, were at least ten others. Harry looked over his shoulder — but still, no one was there. Or were they all invisible, too? Was he in fact in a room full of invisible people and this mirror’s trick was that it reflected them, invisible or not? He looked in the mirror again. A woman standing right behind his reflection was smiling at him and waving. He reached out a hand and felt the air behind him. If she was really there, he’d touch her, their reflections were so close together, but he felt only air — she and the others existed only in the mirror. She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her eyes – her eyes are just like mine , Harry thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Bright green — exactly the same shape, but then he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same time. The tall, thin, black-haired man standing next to her put his arm around her.  He wore glasses, and his hair was very untidy. It stuck up at the back, just as Harry’s did. Harry was so close to the mirror now that his nose was nearly touching that of his reflection. “Mom?” he whispered. “Dad?” They just looked at him, smiling. And slowly, Harry looked into the faces of the other people in the mirror, and saw other pairs of green eyes like his, other noses like his, even a little old man who looked as though he had Harry’s knobbly knees — Harry was looking at his family, for the first time in his life. The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he stared hungrily back at them, his hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness. How long he stood there, he didn’t know. The reflections did not fade and he looked and looked until a distant noise brought him back to his senses. He couldn’t stay here, he had to find his way back to bed. He tore his eyes away from his mother’s face, whispered, “I’ll come back,” and hurried from the room.

So let’s break down the scene progression, and how we process our emotions right alongside Harry.

“It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi . His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself but see no reflection again. He stepped in front of it.”

Emotive language of note: 

  • “as high as the ceiling”: very clear, extravagant image, creates an image of a massive wall of mirror, heightens the unexpected and absurd nature of Harry’s surroundings
  • “His panic fading now that there was no sound”: feelings of fear and anxiety fade, and we get a sense of silence and momentary safety

The setup is like taking a breath. In this scene, we just meet Harry as he escapes being caught. He’s relieved but surprised, and his panic seems to be fading. Think of it like the calm before the storm, the big shock. Our hero gets a moment of uncertain peace before things turn upside down once more!

“He had to clap his hands to his mouth to stop himself from screaming. He whirled around. His heart was pounding far more furiously than when the book had screamed — for he had seen not only himself in the mirror, but a whole crowd of people standing right behind him.  But the room was empty. Breathing very fast, he turned slowly back to the mirror.”

  • “clap his hands to his mouth”: furious motion, the sound of clapping itself, the feeling of having your mouth covered quickly – these sensations and actions trigger an instinctual response in the reader, evoking fear, anxiety, danger
  • “he turned slowly back to the mirror”: evokes the image of prey being caught in a corner, caution, hesitation implied shows more than just stating ‘he was afraid’

The author follows the calm with shock, danger, and concern. In a dark room within a magical castle full of secrets, a foe in pursuit, and our protagonist suddenly  suppresses a scream? We’re definitely on edge. Emotions=spiked.

Then, there’s a creepy, ghost-like element with strange apparitions in a mirror. We don’t know what they look like, or who they are. This is intentional because it lets the full effect of surprise take place. We aren’t distracted by details, or even Harry’s own thoughts yet. There’s a disturbance, a high danger potential, and an emotional reaction.

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3. Logical Investigation:

“There he was, reflected in it, white and scared-looking, and there, reflected behind him, were at least ten others. Harry looked over his shoulder — but still, no one was there. Or were they all invisible, too? Was he in fact in a room full of invisible people and this mirror’s trick was that it reflected them, invisible or not?

He looked in the mirror again. A woman standing right behind his reflection was smiling at him and waving. He reached out a hand and felt the air behind him. If she was really there, he’d touch her, their reflections were so close together, but he felt only air — she and the others existed only in the mirror.”

  • “Or were they all invisible too?”: a very disturbing thought, uncertainty, fear, evokes a whirling thought process and assessment – this opens up the possibility for at least two interpretations of the scene, where the apparitions could be in the mirror, or are in fact surrounding him
  • “He reached out a hand and felt the air behind him.”: shows a motion we can all clearly see and imagine, the absurdity of the situation – gives the reader the sensation of anticipation. What might our hands brush against?

Now that it’s clear he wasn’t going to instantly die or be attacked, our boy is curious. We experience Harry’s inner dialogue, followed by a physical action to verify those thoughts.

As you can see, we are perfectly in line with Harry’s experience. So far, with the use of emotive language, we’ve felt his fear, his shock, his caution, and curiosity. A fabulous progression, and a great example of writing for optimal emotional impact.

4. The Details:

“She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her eyes – her eyes are just like mine , Harry thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Bright green — exactly the same shape, but then he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same time. The tall, thin, black-haired man standing next to her put his arm around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very untidy. It stuck up at the back, just as Harry’s did.”

  • “– her eyes are just like mine,” : this shows the beginning of a sinking realization, hesitation from Harry, hope, and wariness
  • “he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same time”: an understated but bitingly clear image of pain and happiness intermingled, much of what Harry is beginning to feel himself
  • “It stuck up in the back, just as Harry’s did.”: the final piece of his revelation, paired with a very distinct image, the puzzle finally fitting together

Alrighty… we see a turn approaching. Dots are connecting. Heartbreaking truths lash out in flying colors. Harry is looking at an image of his parents (sob).

Now, notice how the author slowly expands the experience, but refuses to drag it out – and thank goodness! Nothing is worse than knowing exactly what’s going on for pages before the author decides to bring their character up to speed.

With this subtle build using emotive language, with the incremental release of information, lets us progress alongside Harry.

(Side note: I listen to a ton of audiobooks, and have recently been reduced to screaming out the obvious plot twists ahead of time because the author draws out scenes in an attempt to make them more ’emotionally loaded’. Don’t do it. You’ll inadvertently give  too much away, and alienate the reader. Focus ONLY on details that progress the narrative . )

5. Realization:

“”Mom?” he whispered. “Dad?”

They just looked at him, smiling. And slowly, Harry looked into the faces of the other people in the mirror, and saw other pairs of green eyes like his, other noses like his, even a little old man who looked as though he had Harry’s knobbly knees — Harry was looking at his family, for the first time in his life.”

  • “and saw other pairs of green eyes, eyes like his”: this is a wonderful image; we can see dozens of blinking green eyes staring back that painfully juxtaposes Harry’s true isolation
  • “Harry was looking at his family, for the first time in his life.”: another impactful moment written out in an understated manner, evoking ‘at a loss for words’, wonderstruck

BOOM. She hit it! Oh, the feels!

6. Emotional Response:

“The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he stared hungrily back at them, his hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness.”

  • “and he stared hungrily back at them”: desperation, desire, craving for connection
  • “He had a powerful kind of ache inside him”: bruised flesh, blood pumping against a wound so painful it might burst, need, desire, age-old longing

I like how this excerpt gives physicality to Harry’s emotions. Like we talked about in the sensory details post , using physical touch is an excellent way to ground a character into the narrative, as y ou can imagine how it would feel to press your hands to the cold surface of a mirror. We can see him  leaning in so desperately, hoping he could join them.

The conflict between joy and sadness adds another layer of complexity. We have happiness over seeing family, which is overshadowed by the knowledge that this is still only a mirror. They are not only inaccessible, but unreal.

And yet, we want them to be. Because at this point, don’t we want everything Harry craves? 

7. The Intentional Reaction:

“How long he stood there, he didn’t know. The reflections did not fade and he looked and looked until a distant noise brought him back to his senses. He couldn’t stay here, he had to find his way back to bed. He tore his eyes away from his mother’s face, whispered, “I’ll come back,” and hurried from the room.”

  • “How long he stood there, he didn’t know.”: frozen, enraptured, lost in time, still in shock, evoking the sublime, emotions so overwhelming it causes a dissociation from reality
  • “He tore his eyes away from his mother’s face,”: not wanting to leave, but needing to return to reality/sanity again, breaking away, revisiting loss

You can feel the hunger for hope, feel the pain. He’s had a taste of what he craves (as have we), and desperation emerges along with a stout confidence. Here, we see our hero process these emotions, and finally, make a decision based on what he perceives/feels: he’ll come back.

And that, my friends, is the power of empathy through emotive language in creative writing. We are essentially anchored into the story, immersed into Harry himself. Mission accomplished! *high fives*

Want the next step for free.

I’m giving you a *free copy* of The Ultimate Descriptive Language Cheat Sheet! This library of colorful descriptive words will give you hundreds of emotive & sensory descriptors guaranteed to pull your reader right in, and elevate your narrative!  Enjoy, and thanks for reading! 

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Read next:  Using Sensory Details in Creative Writing

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example of mood in creative writing

Mood Definition

What is mood? Here’s a quick and simple definition:

The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader. Every aspect of a piece of writing can influence its mood, from the setting  and the  imagery to the author's word choice and  tone . For instance, a story that begins "It was a dark and stormy night" will probably have an overall dark, ominous, or suspenseful mood.

Some additional key details about mood:

  • Every piece of writing has a mood—whether it's a masterwork of literature or a short haiku .
  • Moods are established gradually over the course of an entire work, so it's often difficult to pinpoint the elements that contribute to a work's mood at the level of the sentence or paragraph.
  • Mood is often (and understandably) confused with tone , which is related but different in that tone refers to the  attitude of a piece of writing, not its atmosphere. More on the difference below.

How to Pronounce Mood

Here's how to pronounce mood:  mude

Mood Explained

Generally speaking, any word that can be used to describe emotion can be used to describe the mood of a story, poem, or other piece of writing. Here are some words that are commonly used to describe mood:

  • Lighthearted

A single piece of writing can and usually does employ more than one mood, since different parts of the same work can have different moods, but works are generally characterized by a single overarching mood. So for instance, a story that has happy passages and sad passages might not be defined by either mood, but rather by its overall mood of humorousness. 

What Makes Up a Mood?

These are the basic elements that help determine the mood of a piece of writing:

  • In the "dark and stormy night" example from above, the story's mood is established almost entirely by the setting (in this case, the weather and the time of day), which makes for a gloomy and potentially even frightening atmosphere. 
  • A story that takes place in a cotton candy kingdom, by contrast, is likely to have a whimsical, cheerful, or light-hearted mood.
  • A poem that spends a lot of time describing babbling brooks, gentle rolling hills, and herds of sheep might have an idyllic mood.
  • A story that has a lot of roses, candlelight, and boxes of chocolates might be trying to establish a romantic mood.
  • It wouldn't be unusual for a poem with a somber tone to also have a somber mood—i.e., to make the reader feel somber as well. 
  • A journalist who makes a jab at a politician might be conveying how they feel about their subject (using a critical tone ) while also trying to influence their readers to feel similarly—i.e., creating a  mood of anger or outrage.
  • A writer might choose to use more antiquated diction like "thou art" instead of "you are" if they want to create a whimsical mood.
  • Similarly, the difference between "a dull, uneventful night" and "a peaceful, silent night" might contribute to the difference between a text with a gloomy or melancholic mood and a calm, reflective mood.
  • Genre and Plot:  This one may seem obvious, but the genre and  plot of a work contribute to its mood in many different ways. For instance, a murder mystery with many complicated plot developments and twists probably has a suspenseful or tense mood.

Mood Examples

The following examples of mood are from different types of literature: plays, novels, and poems. In each, we identify how the author builds the mood of the work using a combination of setting, imagery, tone, diction, and plot.

Mood in Hamlet

Shakespeare's  Hamlet   is a play about death, grief, and madness (among other things). Shakespeare helps to establish the fantastical and ominous mood of the play early on by making use of setting, imagery, tone, and diction. The first scene takes place at night (setting), when three guards spot the ghost of Old Hamlet walking the castle grounds (imagery). But since it's a play, the mood depends almost entirely on the dialogue of the characters. The guards say to one another, "It harrows me with fear and wonder," and "How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale. Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you on ’t?" (diction). To the ghost, the guards speak animatedly and urgently, shouting "Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!" (tone). Shakespeare continues to build on and develop the mood of the play throughout, but he opens strongly with a scene that establishes the mood of the entire play as one of excitement and suspense mixed with fearfulness and dread.

Mood in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Caroll's  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland   has a whimsical, lighthearted, and often cheerful mood. It uses a combination of fantastical imagery, a famously "curious" setting, and lighthearted language to set the mood. In this passage, for instance, the narrator's description of the giant caterpillar makes it seem as though nothing at all were out of the ordinary about the scene, contributing to the book's overall whimsical mood:

She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large caterpillar, that was sitting on the top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else.

Even in her moments of discouragement, Alice manages to find a sense of wonderment in her surroundings:

"It was much pleasanter at home," thought poor Alice, "when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole—and yet—and yet—it's rather curious, you know, this sort of life!"

You could even say that, since the book's protagonist is a young child and the reader experiences much of the story through her eyes, the overall mood is "innocent" or "childlike." Indeed, Caroll's book can be thought of as a type of  allegorical story that captures the way young children experience the world: with awe, wonderment, and joy. Not only does Alice experience these emotions—but, by extension, many readers do, too.

Mood in Tennyson's Ulysses

Tennyson's famous poem is an excellent example of a work that establishes its mood quickly and effectively using just setting and diction. The poem begins:

It little profits that an idle king,  By this still hearth, among these barren crags,  Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole  Unequal laws unto a savage race,  That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. 

The mood of the poem is gloomy, melancholic, and reflective—which is reflected both in the poem's setting (still hearth, barren crags) as well as the poet's choice of words (the speaker describes himself as "idle," his wife as "aged," and his subjects as a "savage race" of hoarding strangers). The poem is written from the perspective of a hero reflecting on his life in old age, so the mood helps readers to have a similar emotional experience to the one the speaker seems to be having.

What's the Function of Mood in Literature?

Every piece of writing has a mood, but writers can use moods to achieve vastly different effects in their writing. In general, mood serves the following functions in literature:

  • It enables writers to take their readers on a journey that is emotional in addition to being imaginary or imagistic.
  • It helps convey the central themes of the work. For instance, a play about death might have a mournful or gloomy mood.
  • It can help the reader identify more fully with the writer or characters by causing readers to feel the same emotions the writer or characters feel.
  • It helps works of literature "come alive" by imbuing the language with human emotions.

Other Helpful Mood Resources

  • The Wikipedia Page on Mood:   A basic overview of mood in literature.
  • The Dictionary Definition of Mood:   A simple definition of mood's general meaning.
  • Mood on YouTube: This short video gives a great overview of how mood works in literature.

The printed PDF version of the LitCharts literary term guide on Mood

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  • Explanations and citation info for 38,735 quotes across 1844 books
  • Downloadable (PDF) line-by-line translations of every Shakespeare play
  • Connotation
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  • Bildungsroman
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example of mood in creative writing

Creating Mood And Atmosphere In Your Writing

by Writer's Relief Staff | Craft: Memoir , Craft: Nonfiction Book , Craft: Novel Writing , Craft: Personal Essay Writing , The Writing Life | 6 comments

Review Board is now open! Submit your Short Prose, Poetry, and Book today!

Deadline: tuesday, january 16th.

Many writers are able to create mood and atmosphere with little effort. But to become a better writer, you need a conscious, practical sense of the tools you can use to manipulate mood, atmosphere, and tone in your writing.

example of mood in creative writing

8 Sure-fire Ways To Establish Mood

Using all of these tools together will help you create a consistent atmosphere or mood:

Word choice. Your word choice is the number one tool at your disposal for setting the mood. Two writers looking at the exact same scene might approach it with different words (and therefore different tones). To understand what mood your word choice evokes, print a page and highlight key adjective and verbs. Are you creating a cohesive picture?

Tone. Your tone is created by your word choice. Think of tone in the same way that you think of “tone of voice.” The tone you use, the words you speak, all contribute to the mood or atmosphere.

Setting. You’re probably already aware that setting can affect mood: Is it a “dark and stormy night” or a bright, sunny day? The key to using setting to create mood is to pay attention to the way your characters interact with what’s going on around them. Are they challenged by the setting or comforted? Often this interaction enhances the mood.

Dialogue . Lighthearted banter contributes to mood much differently than heated accusation. Of course, you can (and sometimes should) offer moments of levity in even the most serious conversation (or vice versa). But for the most part, be sure your dialogue supports the atmosphere you hope to create.

Internal monologue. The same guidelines apply to a character’s internal monologue: As long as your character is consciously in tune with the atmosphere around him or her, you can use thoughts and observations to drive your scene’s mood home.

Description . Description that stands apart from internal monologue can also contribute to mood. Your narrator—whether first person or omniscient—can affect mood by manipulating decisions about what to focus on and what to ignore. For example: focusing the narrative on a shattered porcelain baby doll on the sidewalk instead of the beautiful blue sky.

Rhythm of language. The rhythm of your sentences will also affect mood. Short sentences will create a fast-paced feeling in prose, or a sense of solemnity in poetry. Long sentences full of commas can sometimes evoke a sense of breathless anxiety (commas force “breaths”). Well-balanced sentences can evoke calm and introspection. And you can change the mood by manipulating the rhythms of your sentences—by slowing readers down or speeding them up.

Tools of poetry . You can use the tools of imagery, metaphor, simile, and other poetic devices to foster a particular mood. For example: The sunset was like a bloodstained mattress conjures a much different image than The sunset was like a rose silk scarf.

The 4 Golden Rules Of Manipulating Mood

Mood should shift from the beginning of a scene to the end of it. Unless you’re writing in a slice-of-life style, the “rules” of creative writing often suggest that a character should change in some way over the course of a scene. When a character experiences change, allowing the mood to also change makes the shift more powerful.

In longer works, mood should shift from scene to scene. If every single scene in a longer work has the same mood, readers’ eyes will glaze over. Be sure there’s discernible difference in mood between one scene and the other. Consider how mood will affect readers’ emotions as your story progresses.

The mood of a passage can/should affect or support the main action. Whether you’re writing a poem or a story, the mood of your passage can challenge your characters/speakers; make them question themselves; or affirm their choices. A rainstorm on a bride’s wedding day can cause her to rethink her marriage; a rainbow can support her choice. And while mood can reflect a character’s feelings, it doesn’t necessarily have to—imagine a scene in which a very happy woman who has just received the best news of her life is about to be kidnapped; she’s so happy, she’s missing the foreboding, eerie mood of the world around her.

Mood should be describable. If readers can’t say, “this feels gloomy” or “this feels lighthearted,” then you may need to do some work to create a more memorable passage.

Submit to Review Board

The article was very informative. I have been writing for many years, but I have never paid specific attention to the setting of the mood. I thought it simply happened just like that. Thank you.

Victoria Marie Lees

Excellent information here about creating mood in writing. Thank you! I’ve shared this on social media.

Rodney Richards

Like the concrete examples much better than the passages without them, and simple and clear is better than abstract

Daisy Simpson

The post was very useful to me as I’m writing for many years to help my students with their dissertation writing and essay writing so I would like to share this piece of writing with them to make them understand the basic tips.

Osline Makamure

The article has opened my eyes. I will share it with my students

Rental24h.com

This post was very useful for me because I like listening to audiobooks in the car. My work is related to business trips, so I often rent a car and listen to various books on the way. A good car and a good story, what else is needed for a good mood.

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example of mood in creative writing

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example of mood in creative writing

Creating the mood of a story: 6 tips for strong atmosphere

How does an author establish mood in a story? The mood of a story develops out of multiple story elements: Setting, description, dialogue, and pacing. Read a definition of mood in literature, then 6 simple tips to craft your own novel’s mood and atmosphere better:

  • Post author By Bridget McNulty
  • 4 Comments on Creating the mood of a story: 6 tips for strong atmosphere

Moody picture of woman at train station | Now Novel

What is the definition of mood in literature?

‘Mood’ in literature is the atmosphere or pervasive tone of a piece of writing.

A short story is more likely to have a single, unifying mood (as in the eerie, dark stories of Edgar Allan Poe). Novels, by virtue of being longer, tend to pass through multiple moods as narrative tension increases or decreases.

Stanford’s concise list of literary terms notes the difference between mood as a literary term and mood as a grammatical term.

Mood as a  literary  term refers to ‘the prevailing atmosphere or emotional aura of a word [or narrative]’, whereas mood in grammar describes the different forms of verbs (subjunctive, indicative and imperative) that convey a speaker’s attitude.

So how do you strengthen mood in a story?

1: Use setting to build your story’s mood

Setting is a core ingredient of mood in storytelling. Where your story is set and how each scene looks, smells and sounds builds a specific atmosphere.

In Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations , for example, Dickens conveys a mood of despair and decay in how he describes the eccentric Miss Havisham’s home.

Example of using setting in a story to build mood: Miss Havisham’s house in Great Expectations

We first encounter Havisham’s home as a rumour, when the narrator says:

I had heard of Miss Havisham up town — everybody for miles round had heard of Miss Havisham up town — as an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion. Charles Dickens,  Great Expectations , available in full text here .

The description of a single ‘grim’ lady living in a ‘large and dismal house barricaded against robbers’ establishes the mood. It is a bleak, lonely place where Miss H’s seclusion fosters paranoia.

Later on, when Pip first arrives at Miss Havisham’s house, he describes it as ‘of old brick, and dismal’, saying it ‘had a great many iron bars to it.’ Pip continues:

Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred […] While we waited at the gate, I peeped […] and saw that at the side of the house there was a large brewery. No brewing was going on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.

Dickens steadily creates a dark mood of decay and disuse. It is almost haunted in atmosphere. This continues when Pip gets inside:

The first thing I noticed was, that the passages were all dark, and that she had left a candle burning there. She took it up, and we went through more passages and up a staircase, and still it was all dark, and only the candle lighted us.

By describing both the outside and interior of the house in terms of ghostly, shadowy abandonment, Dickens creates a gothic mood and atmosphere.

Dickens’ description of Havisham’s  house is a good example of mood in literature and how you can use mood effectively in your own writing.

[Brainstorm detailed, interesting settings in the Now Novel dashboard and build a useful outline, step-by-step ].

HP Lovecraft quote mood in stories | Now Novel

2: Use effective mood words

What are ‘mood words’? They’re descriptive words such as adjectives and descriptive verbs that help establish atmosphere.

For example, compare the mood created by the nondescript word ‘walk’ versus the word ‘tiptoe’:

A walking character could be moving in countless ways. A tiptoeing character immediately conjures the idea of stealth. It conveys a sense of sound – how loudly your character is walking. It also conveys your character’s mental state and the overarching mood of your setting (the hush of a house where everyone has gone to bed, for example).

Your character could tiptoe because:

  • They’re being cautious/considerate (e.g. they don’t want to wake a sleeping adult or child by treading loudly)
  • They’re being sneaky/fearful (they’re trying to leave without rousing the alarm of anyone who’d have good reason to stop them)

A good mood word casts a spell over an entire scene. A character starts to ‘tiptoe’ instead of ‘walk’ and suddenly the reader’s attention is laser-focused on each movement and sound description.

3. Make a mood word list

If you want to create a heightened sense of suspense or fear in a scene, make a mood word list you can use. For example, you can create a creepy mood in an old, dilapidated house by describing sounds that suggest eerie presence. For example:

  • Whistling (of the wind)

Similarly, making a character tiptoe, creep or inch through a house immediately casts a mood over the setting. We anticipate another person or a situation that necessitates cautious movement. Mood is thus created as much as by how a character  responds  to their surrounds as by details in the setting itself.

4: Intensify your story’s mood using dialogue

Dialogue between characters is another story device you can use to create a stronger mood. In Great Expectations , Dickens continues the dark and Gothic mood of Havisham’s house when Pip finally encounters the eccentric herself:

  “Look at me,” said Miss Havisham. “You are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?” I regret to state that I was not afraid of telling the enormous lie comprehended in the answer “No.” “Do you know what I touch here?” she said, laying her hands, one upon the other, on her left side. “Yes, ma’am.” (It made me think of the young man.) “What do I touch?” “Your heart.” “Broken!” She uttered the word with an eager look, and with strong emphasis, and with a weird smile that had a kind of boast in it.

Dickens’ dialogue conveys eerie mood and a sense of Miss Havisham’s theatrical despair. The dialogue is a natural continuation of the mood evoked through setting description.

Think of how setting, dialogue and mood relate to each other. For example, if your characters are in a loud, crowded nightclub, it will alter the way they speak.

If the mood of your setting is vibrant, pulsing with life, think of ways your characters’ dialogue can add to and enhance this atmosphere. Are there interruptions? Moments where they have to shout above the din? Places where the world outside goes quiet?

5: Build your story’s mood using pace

How you pace your narrative also affects your story’s mood.

In a scene of high suspense or tension, shorter sentences make everything move faster.

For example, in Raymond Carver’s short story ‘The Bath’  (from What We Talk about When We Talk about Love ), after a boy is knocked down by a car, a mood of anxiety as well as numb disbelief in the hospital builds through clipped, short sentences:

Of course, the birthday party never happened. The birthday boy was in the hospital instead. The mother sat by the bed. She was waiting for the boy to wake up. The father hurried over from his office. He sat next to the mother. So now the both of them waited for the boy to wake up. Raymond Carver, ‘The Bath’, in  What We Talk about When We Talk About Love , p. 49.

Similarly, match the pace of your sentences, the simplicity or complexity of their construction, to the mood you want to convey.

Mood-driven stories - Graham Joyce quote | Now Novel

6: Show rather than tell characters’ emotions

One way to kill mood is by telling the reader your character’s emotions. Take this sentence, for example:

She felt happy the job interview had gone well and was looking forward to hearing back from the company.

Drawing in your character’s surrounds and actions creates a much stronger mood and a more vivid sense of your character’s emotional state.

An alternative to the above example:

She almost danced to the car once she was clear of the building, giddy over her interviewer’s enthusiasm. All that week and the next, she checked her email and phone religiously, expecting a follow-up.

There is a clearer distinction between the mood of being in the building where the interview takes place and being free of it. The character’s movement and actions convey mood stronger, too.

There will be points in your novel where you don’t need to enrich the scene with additional mood, yet for key emotional points, the tips above will help you create strong atmosphere.

Want to develop a mood to match your story idea? Use the Now Novel dashboard to outline your story in easy steps , and the World Builder to outline scene locations and your story’s wider world. Then use our Google Docs writing add-on to view your outline alongside your draft.

Related Posts:

  • Novel writing: How to create strong mood
  • Creating mood like Haruki Murakami
  • Writing an action story: 8 tips for strong pacing
  • Tags mood definition , writing mood

example of mood in creative writing

By Bridget McNulty

Bridget McNulty is a published author, content strategist, writer, editor and speaker. She is the co-founder of two non-profits: Sweet Life Diabetes Community, South Africa's largest online diabetes community, and the Diabetes Alliance, a coalition of all the organisations working in diabetes in South Africa. She is also the co-founder of Now Novel: an online novel-writing course where she coaches aspiring writers to start - and finish! - their novels. Bridget believes in the power of storytelling to create meaningful change.

4 replies on “Creating the mood of a story: 6 tips for strong atmosphere”

“Sensual lifestyle” is a book with great feelings & an amazing world

This is an amazing post. I do feel sometimes that the mood is not set by authors correctly and do not want to commit the same mistake myself. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you Shilpi, glad you enjoyed reading. Yes, lead by example.

Nice post and I’m working on a topic named “creating a mood”, and this post helps me a lot. Thanks.

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The Write Practice

Tone in Writing: 42 Examples of Tone For All Types of Writing

by Joe Bunting | 0 comments

What is tone in writing and why does it matter?

Tone is key to all communication. Think of the mother telling her disrespectful child, “Watch your tone, young man.” Or the sarcastic, humorous tone of a comedian performing stand up. Or the awe filled way people speak about their favorite musician, author, or actor. Or the careful, soft tones that people use with each other when they first fall in love.

Tone  is  communication, sometimes more than the words being used themselves.

Tone in Writing: 42 Examples of Tone For All Types of Writing

So then how do you use tone in writing, and how does tone influence the meaning of a writing piece?

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about how to use tone in all types of writing, from creative writing to academic and even business writing. You'll learn what tone actually  is  in writing and how it's conveyed. You'll learn the forty-two types of tone in writing, plus even have a chance to test your tone recognition with a practice exercise. 

Ready to become a tone master? Let's get started.

Why You Should Listen To Me?

I've been a professional writer for more than a decade, writing in various different formats and styles. I've written formal nonfiction books, descriptive novels, humorous memoir chapters, and conversational but informative online articles (like this one!).

Which is all to say, I earn a living in part by matching the right tone to each type of writing I work on. I hope you find the tips on tone below useful!

Table of Contents

Definition of Tone in Writing Why Tone Matters in Writing 42 Types of Tone Plus Tone Examples How to Choose the Right Tone for Your Writing Piece Tone Writing Identification Exercise Tone Vs. Voice in Writing The Role of Tone in Different Types of Writing

Tone in Creative Writing Tone in Academic Writing Tone in Business Writing Tone in Online Writing

Conclusion: How to Master Tone Practice Exercise

Definition of Tone in Writing

Examples of tone can be formal, informal, serious, humorous, sarcastic, optimistic, pessimistic, and many more (see below for all forty-two examples)

Why Does Tone Matter in Writing

I once saw a version of Shakespeare's  A Midsummer Night's Dream in which the dialogue had been completely translated into various Indian dialects, including Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and more. And yet, despite not knowing any of those languages, I was amazed to find that I could follow the story perfectly, infinitely better than the average Shakespeare in the park play.

How could I understand the story so well despite the fact that it was in another language? In part, it was the skill of the actors and their body language. But one of the biggest ways that the actors communicated meaning was one thing.

Their tone of voice.

Tone is one of the most important ways we grasp the meaning of what someone is saying. If someone says, “I love you,” in an angry, sneering way, it doesn't matter what their words are saying, the meaning will be completely changed by their tone.

In the same way, tone is crucial in writing because it significantly influences how readers interpret and react to the text. Here are a few reasons why tone is important:

  • Tone conveys feeling. The tone reflects the writer's attitude toward the subject and the audience, helping to shape readers' perceptions and emotional responses.
  • Tone can help readers understand the meaning of the text. A well-chosen tone can clarify meaning, making it easier for readers to understand the writer's intent and message.
  • Tone is engaging! As humans, we are designed to respond to emotion and feeling! Tone can help to engage or disengage readers. A relatable or compelling tone can draw readers in, while an off-putting tone can push them away.
  • Tone sets the mood. Tone can set the mood or atmosphere of a piece of writing, influencing how readers feel as they go through the text.
  • Tone persuades. In persuasive writing, tone plays a significant role in influencing how convincing or compelling your arguments are.
  • Tone reflects professionalism. In professional or academic contexts, maintaining an appropriate tone is crucial to uphold the writer's authority.

42 Types of Tone in Writing Plus Examples of Tone

Tone is about feeling—the feeling of a writer toward the topic and audience. Which means that nearly any attitude or feeling can be a type of tone, not just the forty-two listed below.

However, you have to start somewhere, so here a list of common tones that can be used in writing, with an example for each type:

  • Example : “Upon analysis of the data, it's evident that the proposed hypothesis is substantiated.”
  • Example : “Hey folks, today we'll be chatting about the latest trends in tech.”
  • Example : “The implications of climate change on our future generations cannot be overstated.”
  • Example : “Why don't scientists trust atoms? Because they make up everything!”
  • Example : “Oh great, another diet plan. Just what I needed!”
  • Example : “Despite the setbacks, we remain confident in our ability to achieve our goals.”
  • Example : “Given the declining economy, it's doubtful if small businesses can survive.”
  • Example : “We must act now! Every moment we waste increases the danger.”
  • Example : “The experiment concluded with the subject showing a 25% increase in performance.”
  • Example : “I've always found the taste of coffee absolutely heavenly.”
  • Example : “We owe our success to the ceaseless efforts of our esteemed team.”
  • Example : “So much for their ‘revolutionary' product. It's as exciting as watching paint dry.”
  • Example : “The film's plot was so predictable it felt like a tiresome déjà vu.”
  • Example : “Every setback is a setup for a comeback. Believe in your potential.”
  • Example : “A politician making promises? Now there's something new.”
  • Example : “We must fight to protect our planet—it's the only home we have.”
  • Example : “Whether it rains or shines tomorrow, it makes little difference to me.”
  • Example : “As the doors creaked open, a chilling wind swept through the abandoned mansion.”
  • Example : “She gazed at the fading photograph, lost in the echoes of a time long past.”
  • Example : “The fire station caught on fire—it's almost poetic, isn't it?”
  • Example : “I can understand how challenging this period has been for you.”
  • Example : “His excuse for being late was as pathetic as it was predictable.”
  • Example : “Our feline companion has gone to pursue interests in a different locale” (meaning: the cat ran away).
  • Example : “Your report is due by 5 PM tomorrow, no exceptions.”
  • Example : “So, you've got a hankering to learn about star constellations—well, you're in the right place!”
  • Example : “She tiptoed down the dim hallway, every shadow pulsating with the mysteries of her childhood home.”
  • Example : “With the approaching footsteps echoing in his ears, he quickly hid in the dark alcove, heart pounding.”
  • Example : “His eyes were a stormy sea, and in their depths, she found an anchor for her love.”
  • Example : “In the heart of the mystical forest, nestled between radiant will-o'-the-wisps, was a castle spun from dreams and starlight.”
  • Example : “The quantum mechanical model posits that electrons reside in orbitals, probabilistic regions around the nucleus, rather than fixed paths.”
  • Example : “When constructing a thesis statement, it's crucial to present a clear, concise argument that your paper will substantiate.”
  • Example : “The juxtaposition of light and dark imagery in the novel serves to illustrate the dichotomy between knowledge and ignorance.”
  • Example : “Upon deconstructing the narrative, one can discern the recurrent themes of loss and redemption.”
  • Example : “One must remember, however, that the epistemological underpinnings of such an argument necessitate a comprehensive understanding of Kantian philosophy.”
  • Example : “The ephemeral nature of existence prompts us to contemplate the purpose of our pursuits and the value of our accomplishments.”
  • Example : “She left the room.”
  • Example : “Global warming is a major issue that needs immediate attention.”
  • Example : “Maybe she’ll come tomorrow, I thought, watching the cars pass by, headlights blurring in the rain—oh, to be somewhere else, anywhere, the beach maybe, sand between my toes, the smell of the sea…”
  • Example : “In the quiet solitude of the night, I grappled with my fears, my hopes, my dreams—how little I understood myself.”
  • Example : “The autumn leaves crunched underfoot, their vibrant hues of scarlet and gold painting a brilliant tapestry against the crisp, cerulean sky.”
  • Example : “Looking back on my childhood, I see a time of joy and innocence, a time when the world was a playground of endless possibilities.”
  • Example : “Gazing up at the star-studded sky, I was struck by a sense of awe; the universe's vast expanse dwarfed my existence, reducing me to a speck in the cosmic canvas.”
  • Example : “His unwavering determination in the face of adversity serves as a shining beacon for us all, inspiring us to strive for our dreams, no matter the obstacles.”

Any others that we forgot? Leave a comment and let us know!

Remember, tone can shift within a piece of writing, and a writer can use more than one tone in a piece depending on their intent and the effect they want to create.

The tones used in storytelling are particularly broad and flexible, as they can shift and evolve according to the plot's developments and the characters' arcs.

​​How do you choose the right tone for your writing piece?

The tone of a piece of writing is significantly determined by its purpose, genre, and audience. Here's how these three factors play a role:

  • Purpose: The main goal of your writing guides your tone. If you're trying to persuade someone, you might adopt a passionate, urgent, or even a formal tone, depending on the subject matter. If you're trying to entertain, a humorous, dramatic, or suspenseful tone could be suitable. For educating or informing, an objective, scholarly, or didactic tone may be appropriate.
  • Genre: The type of writing also influences the tone. For instance, academic papers often require a formal, objective, or scholarly tone, while a personal blog post might be more informal and conversational. Similarly, a mystery novel would have a suspenseful tone, a romance novel a romantic or passionate tone, and a satirical essay might adopt an ironic or sarcastic tone.
  • Audience: Understanding your audience is crucial in setting the right tone. Professional audiences may expect a formal or respectful tone, while a younger audience might appreciate a more conversational or even irreverent tone. Furthermore, if your audience is familiar with the topic, you can use a more specialized or cerebral tone. In contrast, for a general audience, a clear and straightforward tone might be better.

It's also worth mentioning that the tone can shift within a piece of writing. For example, a novel might mostly maintain a dramatic tone, but could have moments of humor or melancholy. Similarly, an academic paper could be mainly objective but might adopt a more urgent tone in the conclusion to emphasize the importance of the research findings.

In conclusion, to choose the right tone for your writing, consider the intent of your piece, the expectations of the genre, and the needs and preferences of your audience. And don't forget, maintaining a consistent tone is key to ensuring your message is received as intended.

How to Identify Tone in Writing

How do you identify the tone in various texts (or even in your own writing)? What are the key indicators that help you figure out what tone a writing piece is?

Identifying the tone in a piece of writing can be done by focusing on a few key elements:

  • Word Choice (Diction): The language an author uses can give you strong clues about the tone. For instance, formal language with lots of technical terms suggests a formal or scholarly tone, while casual language with slang or contractions suggests an informal or conversational tone.
  • Sentence Structure (Syntax): Longer, complex sentences often indicate a formal, scholarly, or descriptive tone. Shorter, simpler sentences can suggest a more direct, informal, or urgent tone.
  • Punctuation: The use of punctuation can also impact tone. Exclamation marks may suggest excitement, urgency, or even anger. Question marks might indicate confusion, curiosity, or sarcasm. Ellipsis (…) can suggest suspense, uncertainty, or thoughtfulness.
  • Figurative Language: The use of metaphors, similes, personification, and other literary devices can help set the tone. For instance, an abundance of colorful metaphors and similes could suggest a dramatic, romantic, or fantastical tone.
  • Mood: The emotional atmosphere of the text can give clues to the tone. If the text creates a serious, somber mood, the tone is likely serious or melancholic. If the mood is light-hearted or amusing, the tone could be humorous or whimsical.
  • Perspective or Point of View: First-person narratives often adopt a subjective, personal, or reflective tone. Third-person narratives can have a range of tones, but they might lean towards being more objective, descriptive, or dramatic.
  • Content: The subject matter itself can often indicate the tone. A text about a tragic event is likely to have a serious, melancholic, or respectful tone. A text about a funny incident will probably have a humorous or light-hearted tone.

By carefully analyzing these elements, you can determine the tone of a text. In your own writing, you can use these indicators to check if you're maintaining the desired tone consistently throughout your work.

Tone Writing Exercise: Identify the tone in each of the following sentences

Let’s do a little writing exercise by identifying the tones of the following example sentences.

  • “The participants in the study displayed a significant improvement in their cognitive abilities post intervention.”
  • “Hey guys, just popping in to share some cool updates from our team!”
  • “The consequences of climate change are dire and demand immediate attention from world leaders.”
  • “I told my wife she should embrace her mistakes. She gave me a hug.”
  • “Despite the challenges we've faced this year, I'm confident that brighter days are just around the corner.”
  • “Given the state of the economy, it seems unlikely that we'll see any significant improvements in the near future.”
  • “No mountain is too high to climb if you believe in your ability to reach the summit.”
  • “As she stepped onto the cobblestone streets of the ancient city, the echoes of its rich history whispered in her ears.”
  • “Oh, you're late again? What a surprise.”
  • “The methodology of this research hinges upon a quantitative approach, using statistical analysis to derive meaningful insights from the collected data.”

Give them a try. I’ll share the answers at the end!

Tone Versus Voice in Writing

Tone and voice in writing are related but distinct concepts:

Voice is the unique writing style or personality of the writing that makes it distinct to a particular author. It's a combination of the author's syntax, word choice, rhythm, and other stylistic elements.

Voice tends to remain consistent across different works by the same author, much like how people have consistent speaking voices.

For example, the voice in Ernest Hemingway's work is often described as minimalist and straightforward, while the voice in Virginia Woolf's work is more stream-of-consciousness and introspective.

Tone , on the other hand, refers to the attitude or emotional qualities of the writing. It can change based on the subject matter, the intended audience, and the purpose of the writing.

In the same way that someone's tone of voice can change based on what they're talking about or who they're talking to, the tone of a piece of writing can vary. Using the earlier examples, a work by Hemingway might have a serious, intense tone, while a work by Woolf might have a reflective, introspective tone.

So, while an author's voice remains relatively consistent, the tone they use can change based on the context of the writing.

Tone and voice are two elements of writing that are closely related and often work hand in hand to create a writer's unique style. Here's how they can be used together:

  • Consistency: A consistent voice gives your writing a distinctive personality, while a consistent tone helps to set the mood or attitude of your piece. Together, they create a uniform feel to your work that can make your writing instantly recognizable to your readers.
  • Audience Engagement: Your voice can engage readers on a fundamental level by giving them a sense of who you are or the perspective from which you're writing. Your tone can then enhance this engagement by setting the mood, whether it's serious, humorous, formal, informal, etc., depending on your audience and the purpose of your writing.
  • Clarity of Message: Your voice can express your unique perspective and values, while your tone can help convey your message clearly by fitting the context. For example, a serious tone in an academic research paper or a casual, friendly tone in a personal blog post helps your audience understand your purpose and message.
  • Emotional Impact: Voice and tone together can create emotional resonance. A distinctive voice can make readers feel connected to you as a writer, while the tone can evoke specific emotions that align with your content. For example, a melancholic tone in a heartfelt narrative can elicit empathy from the reader, enhancing the emotional impact of your story.
  • Versatility: While maintaining a consistent overall voice, you can adjust your tone according to the specific piece you're writing. This can show your versatility as a writer. For example, you may have a generally conversational voice but use a serious tone for an important topic and a humorous tone for a lighter topic.

Remember, your unique combination of voice and tone is part of what sets you apart as a writer. It's worth taking the time to explore and develop both.

The Role of Tone in Different Types of Writing

Just as different audiences require different tones of voice, so does your tone change depending on the audience of your writing. 

Tone in Creative Writing

Tone plays a crucial role in creative writing, shaping the reader's experience and influencing their emotional response to the work. Here are some considerations for how to use tone in creative writing:

  • Create Atmosphere: Tone is a powerful tool for creating a specific atmosphere or mood in a story. For example, a suspenseful tone can create a sense of tension and anticipation, while a humorous tone can make a story feel light-hearted and entertaining.
  • Character Development: The tone of a character's dialogue and thoughts can reveal a lot about their personality and emotional state. A character might speak in a sarcastic tone, revealing a cynical worldview, or their internal narrative might be melancholic, indicating feelings of sadness or regret.
  • Plot Development: The tone can shift with the plot, reflecting changes in the story's circumstances. An initially optimistic tone might become increasingly desperate as a situation worsens, or a serious tone could give way to relief and joy when a conflict is resolved.
  • Theme Expression: The overall tone of a story can reinforce its themes. For instance, a dark and somber tone could underscore themes of loss and grief, while a hopeful and inspirational tone could enhance themes of resilience and personal growth.
  • Reader Engagement: A well-chosen tone can engage the reader's emotions, making them more invested in the story. A dramatic, high-stakes tone can keep readers on the edge of their seats, while a romantic, sentimental tone can make them swoon.
  • Style and Voice: The tone is part of the writer's unique voice and style. The way you blend humor and seriousness, or the balance you strike between formal and informal language, can give your work a distinctive feel.

In creative writing, it's important to ensure that your tone is consistent, unless a change in tone is intentional and serves a specific purpose in your story. An inconsistent or shifting tone can be jarring and confusing for the reader. To check your tone, try reading your work aloud, as this can make shifts in tone more evident.

Tone in Academic Writing

In academic writing, the choice of tone is crucial as it helps to establish credibility and convey information in a clear, unambiguous manner. Here are some aspects to consider about tone in academic writing:

  • Formal: Academic writing typically uses a formal tone, which means avoiding colloquialisms, slang, and casual language. This helps to maintain a level of professionalism and seriousness that is appropriate for scholarly work. For instance, instead of saying “experts think this is really bad,” a more formal phrasing would be, “scholars have identified significant concerns regarding this matter.”
  • Objective: The tone in academic writing should usually be objective, rather than subjective. This means focusing on facts, evidence, and logical arguments rather than personal opinions or emotions. For example, instead of saying “I believe that climate change is a major issue,” an objective statement would be, “Research indicates that climate change poses substantial environmental risks.”
  • Precise: Precision is crucial in academic writing, so the tone should be specific and direct. Avoid vague or ambiguous language that might confuse the reader or obscure the meaning of your argument. For example, instead of saying “several studies,” specify the exact number of studies or name the authors if relevant.
  • Respectful: Even when critiquing other scholars' work, it's essential to maintain a respectful tone. This means avoiding harsh or judgmental language and focusing on the intellectual content of the argument rather than personal attacks.
  • Unbiased: Strive for an unbiased tone by presenting multiple perspectives on the issue at hand, especially when it's a subject of debate in the field. This shows that you have a comprehensive understanding of the topic and that your conclusions are based on a balanced assessment of the evidence.
  • Scholarly: A scholarly tone uses discipline-specific terminology and acknowledges existing research on the topic. However, it's also important to explain any complex or specialized terms for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with them.

By choosing an appropriate tone, you can ensure that your academic writing is professional, credible, and accessible to your intended audience. Remember, the tone can subtly influence how your readers perceive your work and whether they find your arguments convincing.

Tone in Business Writing

In business writing, your tone should be professional, clear, and respectful. Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Professional and Formal: Just like in academic writing, business writing typically uses a professional and formal tone. This ensures that the communication is taken seriously and maintains an air of professionalism. However, remember that “formal” doesn't necessarily mean “stiff” or “impersonal”—a little warmth can make your writing more engaging.
  • Clear and Direct: Your tone should also be clear and direct. Ambiguity can lead to misunderstanding, which can have negative consequences in a business setting. Make sure your main points are obvious and not hidden in jargon or overly complex sentences.
  • Respectful: Respect is crucial in business communication. Even when addressing difficult topics or delivering bad news, keep your tone courteous and considerate. This fosters a positive business relationship and shows that you value the other party.
  • Concise: In the business world, time is often at a premium. Therefore, a concise tone—saying what you need to say as briefly as possible—is often appreciated. This is where the minimalist tone can shine.
  • Persuasive: In many situations, such as a sales pitch or a negotiation, a persuasive tone is beneficial. This involves making your points convincingly, showing enthusiasm where appropriate, and using language that motivates the reader to act.
  • Neutral: In situations where you're sharing information without trying to persuade or express an opinion, a neutral tone is best. For example, when writing a business report or summarizing meeting minutes, stick to the facts without letting personal bias influence your language.

By adapting your tone based on these guidelines and the specific context, you can ensure your business writing is effective and appropriate.

Tone in Online Writing

Online writing can vary greatly depending on the platform and purpose of the content. However, some common considerations for tone include:

  • Conversational and Informal: Online readers often prefer a more conversational, informal tone that mimics everyday speech. This can make your writing feel more personal and relatable. Blogs, social media posts, and personal websites often employ this tone.
  • Engaging and Enthusiastic: With so much content available online, an engaging and enthusiastic tone can help grab readers' attention and keep them interested. You can express your passion for a topic, ask questions, or use humor to make your writing more lively and engaging.
  • Clear and Direct: Just like in business and academic writing, clarity is key in online writing. Whether you're writing a how-to article, a product description, or a blog post, make your points clearly and directly to help your readers understand your message.
  • Descriptive and Vivid: Because online writing often involves storytelling or explaining complex ideas, a descriptive tone can be very effective. Use vivid language and sensory details to help readers visualize what you're talking about.
  • Authoritative: If you're writing content that's meant to inform or educate, an authoritative tone can help establish your credibility. This involves demonstrating your knowledge and expertise on the topic, citing reliable sources, and presenting your information in a confident, professional manner.
  • Optimistic and Inspirational: Particularly for motivational blogs, self-help articles, or other content meant to inspire, an optimistic tone can be very effective. This involves looking at the positive side of things, encouraging readers, and offering hope.

Remember, the best tone for online writing depends heavily on your audience, purpose, and platform. Always keep your readers in mind, and adapt your tone to suit their needs and expectations.

How to Master Tone

Tone isn't as hard as you think.

If you've ever said something with feeling in your voice or with a certain attitude, you know how it works.

And while mastering the word choice, syntax, and other techniques to use tone effectively can be tricky, just by choosing a tone, being aware of tone in your writing, and making a concerted effort to practice it will add depth and style to your writing, heightening both the meaning and your audiences enjoyment.

Remember, we all have tone. You just need to practice  using  it. Happy writing!

What tone do you find yourself using the most in your writing ? Let us know in the comments .

Here are two writing exercises for you to practice tone.

Exercise 1: Identify the Tone

Using the ten identification examples above, write out the tones for each of the examples. Then use this answer guide to check your work.

  • Pessimistic
  • Inspirational

How many did you get correctly? Let me know in the comments .

Exercise 2: Choose One Tone and Write

Choose one of the tones above, set a timer for fifteen minutes, then free write in that tone. 

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How to Create a Captivating Mood and Atmosphere in Your Writing

Published July 20, 2019 | Last Updated May 21, 2020 By Nicole Bianchi 4 Comments

Woman writing in notebook at desk next to globe, muffins on plate, books

Imagine you’re watching a thriller film.

The protagonist, a detective pursuing a serial killer, has decided to investigate a basement in an abandoned house.

As she slowly descends the rickety stairs, the soundtrack softly dies. The creak of each step is magnified. The lights flicker. There’s a close-up of her face, and you can see the fear in her eyes.

You want to scream at the television “Don’t go down those stairs!” because you’re sure the murderer is lurking below.

With a combination of cinematic techniques, the director has succeeded in making your heart race. They’ve created a suspenseful atmosphere by increasing the volume of certain sounds, pulling the camera in close, and dimming the lights.

But they could create a completely different mood using the same set. Let’s say the lights don’t flicker. The music is bright and cheerful. It’s now a scene in a family film, and Grandma is heading down to the basement to get another jar of her fruit preserves.

Just as filmmakers can create a certain mood with their cinematic techniques, we can set a mood in our writing too.

No matter whether you’re writing a novel or you’re working on a story to include in a nonfiction book or in a speech or on a sales page, it’s essential that you set the right mood for your piece.

Establishing a mood will not only make your writing more enjoyable to read, but it will also help your readers connect emotionally with your words.

Usually, when we write, we’re trying to evoke a specific emotion in our audience. Maybe it’s fear or sadness or happiness or awe.

By creating a convincing mood, we give our readers cues for how they should feel. The mood also helps pull our readers right into the story, just like when you find yourself glued to the screen when you’re watching a suspenseful scene in a movie.

In today’s article, you’ll discover three different writing techniques you can use to set a vivid mood and atmosphere in your stories.

1. Set the mood by carefully choosing your words

When you write your sentences, pay attention to the words that you use.

Even synonyms can evoke very different emotions and mental images and mean very different things.

For example, I looked up synonyms for “puddle” in an online thesaurus. Two words that were listed were “pool” and “splash”.

However, “a pool of light” gives you a very different mental image than “puddle of light” or even “splash of light”.

Let’s go deeper. Say you’re writing about your stay at a stone cottage and want to convey the sense of peacefulness you felt in that place. You might write something like, “The little stone cottage rested at the top of a softly sloping hill.”

The words “rested” and “softly” conjure up that feeling of peacefulness much better than just writing, “The little stone cottage was at the top of a hill.”

In contrast, here’s how Emily Brontë describes the farmhouse Wuthering Heights in her gothic novel of the same name:

…One may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones. Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door…

The words “stunted”, “gaunt”, “defended”, “jutting”, and “grotesque” give the scene an eerie mood and a sense of foreboding. This is definitely not a house I’d want to stay at on a vacation.

Notice also Brontë’s wonderful simile. She says the thorns are stretching their limbs “as if craving alms of the sun.”

Similes and metaphors are another excellent way to set the mood in your writing. Let’s look at them next.

2. Set the mood with similes and metaphors

Similes and metaphors help you take your description to another level by comparing two unlike things to each other as if they were alike.

The only difference between them is that similes use the words “like” or “as” (the wind sounded like a moan) and metaphors do not (the wind moaned).

They’re a fantastic way to set the mood in a paragraph because they allow you to introduce imagery that already has a specific connotation in the mind of the reader.

For example, comparing a person to a “serpent” usually conjures up a negative image: “Her body twisted like a serpent as she danced.” But comparing someone to a “sparrow” would have a completely different connotation: “She danced across the room as lightly as a sparrow.”

In this article , I showed how F. Scott Fitzgerald expertly used similes and metaphors in his writing to set the mood.

Here’s one example from The Great Gatsby :

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house.

Those similes help us better visualize the scene. Here’s what the paragraph would sound like without them:

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were seated. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering.

A bit boring, right? Without the similes, there isn’t really anything to make that scene stand out.

But with those similes, Fitzgerald established a mood for the paragraph. Although he wasn’t writing a fantasy novel, his use of similes about balloons and flying women lets him give this scene an otherworldly feel.

You can do the same thing in your writing. Let’s say you’re writing about how you felt trapped in your job and decided to make a career change.

You could use the metaphor of a prison to help your readers better understand the way you felt. You write about how you felt shackled to your dead-end job, and maybe you compare your boss to a jailer. (He must have been pretty awful!)

In a way, your metaphors and similes create a mini-story within your story.

3. Set the mood with your sentence structure

Third, and finally, you can set the mood with the pace and structure of your sentences.

For example, sandwiching abrupt short sentences in between very long sentences can help create an air of suspense, tension, or anxiety. Here’s an example from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451:

He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold over, and down on itself like a tallow skin, like the stuff of a fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown out. Darkness. He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.

That long sentence at the end without any punctuation reads at a breakneck pace. There’s no comma telling you to pause for even a second. And so it powerfully conveys the character’s agitated thoughts.

This fantastic quote by the writer Gary Provost explains why varying sentence structure is so powerful:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

Want to make your readers feel a sense of languor or of breathless excitement? Experiment with the structure and pacing of your sentences.

The Takeaway

While I’ve used examples from masterful writers throughout this article, these three techniques are simple and straightforward. You can start using them right away to establish a strong mood and atmosphere in your writing.

That mood and atmosphere will help your writing come alive. Your readers will be able to more fully immerse themselves in your writing. And thus you’ll be more effective at sharing your message with the world.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend who you think might find it helpful too. I’d also love to hear from you in the comments how you will use these techniques. Thanks for reading!

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Chidinma John says

December 22, 2019 at 9:04 pm

I found this really helpful, I got value. Exactly what I needed at the moment. You are great at this I must say.

Chidinma says

December 22, 2019 at 9:02 pm

I found this really helpful, I got value. Exactly what I needed to know at the moment. You’re great at this.

DERRICK WASHINGTON says

July 31, 2019 at 7:40 pm

This is a brilliant article, Nicole! It’s clear to me that you know your stuff. You broke down some very important elements to setting the atmosphere and captivating the mood in a story. I believe that if beginner writers was to master what you explained in your blog, it can definitely be an increase to their story telling ability.

Nicole Bianchi says

August 2, 2019 at 6:42 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words, Derrick!

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Brilliantio

Describing Sadness in Creative Writing: 33 Ways to Capture the Blues

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on August 25, 2023

Categories Creative Writing , Writing

Describing sadness in creative writing can be a challenging task for any writer.

Sadness is an emotion that can be felt in different ways, and it’s important to be able to convey it in a way that is authentic and relatable to readers. Whether you’re writing a novel, short story, or even a poem, the ability to describe sadness can make or break a story.

Understanding sadness in writing is essential to creating a believable character or scene. Sadness is a complex emotion that can be caused by a variety of factors, such as loss, disappointment, or loneliness. It’s important to consider the context in which the sadness is occurring, as this can influence the way it is expressed.

By exploring the emotional spectrum of characters and the physical manifestations of sadness, writers can create a more authentic portrayal of the emotion.

In this article, we will explore the different ways to describe sadness in creative writing. We will discuss the emotional spectrum of characters, the physical manifestations of sadness, and the language and dialogue used to express it. We’ll also look at expert views on emotion and provide unique examples of describing sadness.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to authentically convey sadness in your writing.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the emotional spectrum of characters is essential to creating a believable portrayal of sadness.
  • Physical manifestations of sadness can be used to convey the emotion in a more authentic way.
  • Authenticity in describing sadness can be achieved through language and dialogue, as well as expert views on emotion.

33 Ways to Express Sadness in Creative Writing

Let’s start with some concrete examples of sadness metaphors and similes:

Here are 33 ways to express sadness in creative writing:

  • A heavy sigh escaped her lips as a tear rolled down her cheek.
  • His eyes glistened with unleashed tears that he quickly blinked away.
  • Her heart felt like it was being squeezed by a cold, metal fist.
  • A profound emptiness opened up inside him, threatening to swallow him whole.
  • An avalanche of sorrow crashed over her without warning.
  • His spirit sank like a stone in water.
  • A dark cloud of grief descended on her.
  • Waves of sadness washed over him, pulling him under.
  • She felt like she was drowning in an ocean of melancholy.
  • His eyes darkened with sadness like a gathering storm.
  • Grief enveloped her like a wet blanket, heavy and smothering.
  • The light in his eyes dimmed to a flicker behind tears.
  • Sadness seeped through her veins like icy slush.
  • The corners of his mouth drooped like a wilting flower.
  • Her breath came in short, ragged gasps between sobs.
  • A profound melancholy oozed from his pores.
  • The weight of despair crushed her like a vice.
  • A haunted, hollow look glazed over his eyes.
  • An invisible hand squeezed her heart, wringing out all joy.
  • His soul curdled like spoiled milk.
  • A silent scream lodged in her throat.
  • He was consumed by a fathomless gloom.
  • Sorrow pulsed through her veins with every beat of her heart.
  • Grief blanketed him like new-fallen snow, numbing and icy.
  • Tears stung her eyes like shards of glass.
  • A cold, dark abyss of sadness swallowed him.
  • Melancholy seeped from her like rain from a leaky roof.
  • His spirit shriveled and sank like a deflating balloon.
  • A sick, hollow ache blossomed inside her.
  • Rivulets of anguish trickled down his cheeks.
  • Sadness smothered her like a poisonous fog.
  • Gloom settled on his shoulders like a black shroud.
  • Her sorrow poured out in a river of tears.

Understanding Sadness in Writing

Describing sadness in writing can be a challenging task.

Sadness is a complex emotion that can manifest in different ways. It can be expressed through tears, sighs, silence, or even a simple change in posture. As a writer, you need to be able to convey sadness effectively to your readers, while also avoiding cliches and melodrama.

One way to approach describing sadness is to focus on the physical sensations and reactions that accompany it. For example, you might describe the feeling of a lump in your throat, or the tightness in your chest. You could also describe the way your eyes become watery, or the way your hands tremble.

These physical descriptions can help your readers to empathize with your characters and feel the same emotions.

Another important aspect of describing sadness is the tone of your writing. You want to strike a balance between conveying the depth of the emotion and avoiding excessive sentimentality.

One way to achieve this is to use simple, direct language that conveys the emotion without resorting to flowery language or overwrought metaphors.

When describing sadness, it’s also important to consider the context in which it occurs. Sadness can be a response to many different situations, such as loss, disappointment, or rejection. It can also be accompanied by other emotions, such as anger, confusion, or melancholy.

By considering the context and accompanying emotions, you can create a more nuanced and realistic portrayal of sadness in your writing.

Finally, it can be helpful to draw on examples of how other writers have successfully described sadness. By studying the techniques and descriptions used by other writers, you can gain a better understanding of how to effectively convey sadness in your own writing.

In conclusion, describing sadness in writing requires a careful balance of physical descriptions, tone, context, and examples. By focusing on these elements, you can create a more nuanced and effective portrayal of this complex emotion.

Emotional Spectrum in Characters

In creative writing, it’s important to create characters that are multi-dimensional and have a wide range of emotions. When it comes to describing sadness, it’s essential to understand the emotional spectrum of characters and how they respond to different situations.

Characters can experience a variety of emotions, including love, happiness, surprise, anger, fear, nervousness, and more.

Each character has a unique personality that influences their emotional responses. For example, a protagonist might respond to sadness with a broken heart, dismay, or feeling desolate.

On the other hand, a character might respond with anger, contempt, or apathy.

When describing sadness, it’s important to consider the emotional response of the character. For example, a haunted character might respond to sadness with exhaustion or a sense of being drained. A crestfallen character might respond with a sense of defeat or disappointment.

It’s also important to consider how sadness affects the character’s personality. Some characters might become withdrawn or depressed, while others might become more emotional or volatile. When describing sadness, it’s important to show how it affects the character’s behavior and interactions with others.

Overall, the emotional spectrum of characters is an important aspect of creative writing. By understanding how characters respond to different emotions, you can create more realistic and relatable characters. When describing sadness, it’s important to consider the character’s emotional response, personality, and behavior.

Physical Manifestations of Sadness

When you’re feeling sad, it’s not just an emotion that you experience mentally. It can also manifest physically. Here are some physical manifestations of sadness that you can use in your creative writing to make your characters more believable.

Tears are one of the most common physical manifestations of sadness. When you’re feeling sad, your eyes may start to water, and tears may fall down your cheeks. Tears can be used to show that a character is feeling overwhelmed with emotion.

Crying is another physical manifestation of sadness. When you’re feeling sad, you may cry. Crying can be used to show that a character is feeling deeply hurt or upset.

Numbness is a physical sensation that can accompany sadness. When you’re feeling sad, you may feel emotionally numb. This can be used to show that a character is feeling disconnected from their emotions.

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions can also be used to show sadness. When you’re feeling sad, your face may droop, and your eyes may look downcast. This can be used to show that a character is feeling down or depressed.

Gestures can also be used to show sadness. When you’re feeling sad, you may slump your shoulders or hang your head. This can be used to show that a character is feeling defeated or hopeless.

Body Language

Body language can also be used to show sadness. When you’re feeling sad, you may cross your arms or hunch over. This can be used to show that a character is feeling closed off or defensive.

Cold and Heat

Sadness can also affect your body temperature. When you’re feeling sad, you may feel cold or hot. This can be used to show that a character is feeling uncomfortable or out of place.

Sobbing is another physical manifestation of sadness. When you’re feeling sad, you may sob uncontrollably. This can be used to show that a character is feeling overwhelmed with emotion.

Sweating is another physical manifestation of sadness. When you’re feeling sad, you may sweat profusely. This can be used to show that a character is feeling anxious or nervous.

By using these physical manifestations of sadness in your writing, you can make your characters more realistic and relatable. Remember to use them sparingly and only when they are relevant to the story.

Authenticity in Describing Sadness

When it comes to describing sadness in creative writing, authenticity is key. Readers can tell when an author is not being genuine, and it can make the story feel less impactful. In order to authentically describe sadness, it’s important to tap into your own emotions and experiences.

Think about a time when you felt truly sad. What did it feel like? What physical sensations did you experience? How did your thoughts and emotions change? By tapping into your own experiences, you can better convey the emotions of your characters.

It’s also important to remember that sadness can manifest in different ways for different people. Some people may cry, while others may become withdrawn or angry. By understanding the unique ways that sadness can present itself, you can create more authentic and realistic characters.

If you’re struggling to authentically describe sadness, consider talking to a loved one or best friend about their experiences. Hearing firsthand accounts can help you better understand the nuances of the emotion.

Ultimately, the key to authentically describing sadness is to approach it with empathy and understanding. By putting yourself in the shoes of your characters and readers, you can create a powerful and impactful story that resonates with your audience.

Language and Dialogue in Expressing Sadness

When writing about sadness, the language you use can make a big difference in how your readers will perceive the emotions of your characters.

Consider using metaphors and similes to create vivid images that will help your readers connect with the emotions of your characters.

For example, you might describe the sadness as a heavy weight on the character’s chest or a dark cloud hanging over their head.

In addition to using metaphors, you can also use adjectives to describe the character’s emotions. Be careful not to overuse adjectives, as this can detract from the impact of your writing. Instead, choose a few powerful adjectives that will help your readers understand the depth of the character’s sadness.

For example, you might describe the sadness as overwhelming, suffocating, or unbearable.

When it comes to dialogue, it’s important to remember that people don’t always express their emotions directly. In fact, sometimes what isn’t said is just as important as what is said.

Consider using subtext to convey the character’s sadness indirectly. For example, a character might say “I’m fine,” when in reality they are struggling with intense sadness.

Another way to use dialogue to convey sadness is through the use of behaviors. For example, a character might withdraw from social situations, stop eating or sleeping properly, or engage in self-destructive behaviors as a result of their sadness.

By showing these behaviors, you can help your readers understand the depth of the character’s emotions.

Finally, when describing sadness, it’s important to consider the overall mood of the scene. Use sensory details to create a somber atmosphere that will help your readers connect with the emotions of your characters.

For example, you might describe the rain falling heavily outside, the silence of an empty room, or the dim lighting of a funeral home.

Overall, when writing about sadness, it’s important to choose your words carefully and use a variety of techniques to convey the depth of your character’s emotions.

By using metaphors, adjectives, dialogue, behaviors, and sensory details, you can create a powerful and emotionally resonant story that will stay with your readers long after they’ve finished reading.

Expert Views on Emotion

When it comes to writing about emotions, it’s important to have a deep understanding of how they work and how they can be conveyed effectively through writing. Here are some expert views on emotion that can help you write about sadness in a more effective and engaging way.

Dr. Paul Ekman

Dr. Paul Ekman is a renowned psychologist who has spent decades studying emotions and their expressions. According to Dr. Ekman, there are six basic emotions that are universally recognized across cultures: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust.

When it comes to writing about sadness, Dr. Ekman suggests focusing on the physical sensations that accompany the emotion.

For example, you might describe the heaviness in your chest, the lump in your throat, or the tears that well up in your eyes. By focusing on these physical sensations, you can help your readers connect with the emotion on a deeper level.

While sadness is often seen as a “negative” emotion, it’s important to remember that all emotions have their place in creative writing. Disgust, for example, can be a powerful tool for conveying a character’s revulsion or aversion to something.

When writing about disgust, it’s important to be specific about what is causing the emotion. For example, you might describe the smell of rotting garbage, the sight of maggots wriggling in a pile of food, or the texture of slimy, raw meat.

By being specific, you can help your readers feel the full force of the emotion and understand why your character is feeling it.

Overall, when it comes to writing about emotions, it’s important to be both specific and authentic. By drawing on your own experiences and using concrete details to describe the physical sensations and causes of emotions, you can create a more engaging and emotionally resonant piece of writing.

Unique Examples of Describing Sadness

When it comes to describing sadness in creative writing, there are many unique ways to convey this emotion to your readers. Here are some examples that can help you create a powerful and moving scene:

  • The crying scene : One of the most common ways to show sadness is through tears. However, instead of just saying “she cried,” try to describe the crying scene in detail. For instance, you could describe how her tears fell like raindrops on the floor, or how her sobs shook her body like a violent storm. This will help your readers visualize the scene and feel the character’s pain.
  • The socks : Another way to show sadness is through symbolism. For example, you could describe how the character is wearing mismatched socks, which represents how her life is falling apart and nothing seems to fit together anymore. This can be a subtle yet effective way to convey sadness without being too obvious.
  • John : If your character is named John, you can use his name to create a sense of melancholy. For example, you could describe how the raindrops fell on John’s shoulders, weighing him down like the burdens of his life. This can be a creative way to convey sadness while also adding depth to your character.

Remember, when describing sadness in creative writing, it’s important to be specific and use vivid language. This will help your readers connect with your character on a deeper level and feel their pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some effective ways to describe a person’s sadness without using the word ‘sad’.

When describing sadness, it’s important to avoid using the word “sad” as it can come across as cliché and lackluster. Instead, try using more descriptive words that evoke a sense of sadness in the reader. For example, you could use words like “heartbroken,” “bereft,” “devastated,” “despondent,” or “forlorn.” These words help to create a more vivid and emotional description of sadness that readers can connect with.

How can you describe the physical manifestations of sadness on a person’s face?

When describing the physical manifestations of sadness on a person’s face, it’s important to pay attention to the small details. For example, you could describe the way their eyes become red and swollen from crying, or how their mouth trembles as they try to hold back tears. You could also describe the way their shoulders slump or how they withdraw into themselves. By focusing on these small but telling details, you can create a more realistic and relatable portrayal of sadness.

What are some examples of using metaphor and simile to convey sadness in creative writing?

Metaphors and similes can be powerful tools for conveying sadness in creative writing. For example, you could compare a person’s sadness to a heavy weight that they’re carrying on their shoulders, or to a storm cloud that follows them wherever they go. You could also use metaphors and similes to describe the way sadness feels, such as a “gnawing ache” in the pit of their stomach or a “cold, empty void” inside their chest.

How can you effectively convey the emotional weight of sadness through dialogue?

When writing dialogue for a character who is experiencing sadness, it’s important to focus on the emotions and feelings that they’re experiencing. Use short, simple sentences to convey the character’s sadness, and avoid using overly complex language or metaphors. You could also use pauses and silences to create a sense of emotional weight and tension in the scene.

What are some techniques for describing a character’s inner sadness in a way that is relatable to the reader?

One effective technique for describing a character’s inner sadness is to focus on their thoughts and feelings. Use introspection to delve into the character’s emotions and describe how they’re feeling in a way that is relatable to the reader. You could also use flashbacks or memories to show why the character is feeling sad, and how it’s affecting their current actions and decisions.

How can you use sensory language to create a vivid portrayal of sadness in a poem or story?

Sensory language is an effective way to create a vivid portrayal of sadness in a poem or story. Use descriptive words that evoke the senses, such as the smell of rain on a sad day or the sound of a distant train whistle. You could also use sensory language to describe the physical sensations of sadness, such as the weight of a heavy heart or the taste of tears on the tongue. By using sensory language, you can create a more immersive and emotional reading experience for your audience.

example of mood in creative writing

Emotions in Writing: The Author’s Guide to Stirring Up Big Feels

example of mood in creative writing

If you know how to convey emotions in writing, you know how to draw your reader in, hold them captive, and make them remember you forever.

And if you think that sounds manipulative, my brother/writing partner once referred to this skill as the art of “jerking people’s emotions around.”

But he’s right, and we writers might as well own it. The only reason anyone picks up a novel is because they want to feel something.

Thrilled. Terrified. Soothed. Devastated. Anxious. Intoxicated.

Sure, fiction makes us smarter and more insightful. But let’s be real: the only reason it succeeds in making us think is because it first succeeds in making us feel . 

So how do you become an all-powerful emotion wizard?

It’s all right here. You’re about to learn how to plot a story built for emotional resonance and draft scenes that speak to your reader’s soul. So… big stuff.

Let’s start feeling those feels.

Lay the Emotional Groundwork

The first rule of emotions in writing:

Set up your story to elicit big feels.

New writers especially tend to think building emotion is a matter of heartbreaking dialogue or shocking cliffhangers. And sure, that’s part of it. 

But the fact is, it won’t matter how well you nail those micro details if the story itself doesn’t feel authentic and resonate with your reader.

So before we dive into the matter of bringing out emotions in your writing, let’s lay the groundwork for a powerful story.

Know How You Want Your Readers to Feel

A person with long dark hair smiles while reading a book.

What specific emotional experience are you trying to create for your readers?

Or to put it another way:

If you were going to read a book in your chosen genre, what would you want to feel?

Be specific, because specificity is your mightiest tool when it comes to conveying emotions in writing.

For example, you’d probably want the romantic subplot in an adventure novel to charm and delight you. Maybe even dizzy you up a bit. 

But if you pick up a romance , you’re looking for a full-on swoon. Those love scenes had better make your heart race, make you breathless, make you believe in love again no matter what broken dreams lie in your past.

Revisit some of the books that made you want to write in your genre in the first place. Make notes about how you feel, when you feel it, and what the author did to spark those emotions. 

Then, as you draft each new scene, go into it knowing exactly what you want your readers to feel so you can make it happen.

Establish Relatability

How are you going to get your reader to emotionally invest in your protagonist?

You’ve got to offer at least a glimmer of relatability, and you’ve got to do it early. 

Fortunately, this is way easier than you might think. Your reader doesn’t need to see their actual life reflected in your story. They also don’t even need to see their personality reflected in your character. All they really need in order to relate is a glimpse of vulnerability. That’s it.

In White Ivy , Ivy Lin is a young Chinese immigrant trying to carve out a path to status and power in a cold new world. She’s a protagonist with a shockingly negative character arc , and I definitely do not recognize my life in hers.

But on page one, I learn two important pieces of information.

She feels invisible and she wishes she could trade her face for someone else’s.

These are near-universal vulnerabilities. Even though Ivy’s feelings are connected to the very specific experience of being an Asian immigrant in the U.S.—an experience I couldn’t claim to understand intimately—I can at least say there have been times in my life when I’ve felt invisible and unappealing.

This is why literature is such a powerful tool for empathy. Great books start with an emotional entry point. They show a character’s insecurities, fears, failings, or wounds, inviting the reader to say, “Oof. Yeah, I know that one.” Suddenly, the unfamiliar becomes the understandable. 

Flesh Out Characters

Once you’ve hooked your reader’s heart by dropping some relatable vulnerabilities, follow through by making sure your characters are multi-dimensional creations.

This includes side characters and antagonists . You want your players to feel human (even if they’re not). This means they’ve got to have:

  • Compelling motivation

Also remember that your characters do not exist in a vacuum. They’re influenced by their upbringing, culture, economic class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, physical and mental health , and about a million other things. Let your reader see how your characters’ influences shape who they are.

On that note, backstory helps a lot as you build emotion into your story. What has your character been through? How has it shaped their perception of the world? What old wounds are they carrying? 

This stuff can get pretty dense, but it’s worth putting in the work. I recommend checking out these two Dabble articles to get started:

  • How to Write Compelling Characters From the Inside Out
  • No Pain, No Gain: Giving Your Characters a Compelling (and Traumatic) Backstory

Get Readers Invested in the Outcome

A person bites a pencil while nervously reading a computer screen.

So how does the actual plot factor into the process of jerking people’s emotions around?

The good news is that you’ve already done a lot of the heavy lifting in your character development. If your readers care about your protagonist, they’ll care what happens to your protagonist.

But you still need a plot that supports all your hard character work. This means:

‍ Your major characters should face both external conflicts and internal conflicts. As the external conflict intensifies, it should heighten the internal conflict (and vice versa). You can learn more about how to do this here .

‍ You continuously raise the stakes for your protagonist. With each new twist and turn, your hero(ine) has even more to lose.

‍ The protagonist’s choices drive the plot. Don’t make your main character a constant victim of their circumstances. At best, a passive character will only elicit pity, which is the most boring of all emotions. Allow your very human protagonist to make choices that make the conflict worse.

‍ It all makes sense. Logic has an important role to play when it comes to emotions in writing. A gaping plot hole or unsupported character decision will break the spell you’ve worked so hard to cast. For a great guide to plotting an airtight story, download our free ebook , Let’s Write a Book .

Now that you’ve designed your story to stir the soul, let’s get down to the details.

How to Convey Character Emotions in Writing

You’ve laid your foundation. Time to wipe the sweat off your brow and get into the nitty gritty.

Here’s how to bring your character’s emotions to life when you actually get down to drafting.

Use Sensory Details to Set the Mood

Conveying character emotions in your writing isn't just about telling the reader what your character feels.

It’s also about reflecting those feelings in the scene itself. This is especially true when it comes to your point-of-view (POV) character . 

See, even if you write in third person, you still write through the lens of your character’s perception.

You might write in third-person limited , where you only show one character’s perspective at a time. Or you might write in third-person omniscient , which allows you to hop from one character’s POV to another’s. Either way, the character’s emotional state should be reflected in the scene you set.

For example:

“I just can’t marry you,” Daniel had said in the suffocating heat of his car.

So simple, right? One quick scene detail—”suffocating heat”—immediately puts us in Ivy’s shoes. We know what kind of hurt this break-up brings: the kind that makes it hard to think, hard to breathe, hard to stay calm. It's a hot, suffocating kind of heartbreak.

Now, the reason “suffocating heat” works so well to establish an emotional experience is because it’s a sensory detail. It’s concrete. Believe it or not, that’s the key to sliding your reader’s feet into your character’s emotional shoes.

We tend to think of “feelings” as abstract, but when it really comes down to it, we experience everything through physical bodies. We’ve built associations between what we feel in our hearts and what we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel on our skin.

That’s why, if you want to give your reader the heebie-jeebies, your best bet is not to tell them it was really scary in the alleyway, but to show them the long shadow of the broken fire escape ladder. The old advice “show, don’t tell” is really about giving your audience all the feels.

Get Into Your Own Body

A person sits on the edge of a bed, holding their head in their hand.

Here’s another reason why sensory details are so essential to communicating emotions in writing:

We experience emotions physically. We know what we feel because our body tells us what we feel.

If you’ve never thought about this before, now is the time to start noticing.

What physical sensations arise when you feel angry? Anxious? Amorous? Try to notice. Write it down. Remember it when you’re trying to convey your character’s emotions.

This is honestly one of my favorite things about being a writer—the phenomenon of feeling and observing at the exact same time. I’ve had full-blown panic attacks where my inner writer was still there watching and murmuring, “Oh, interesting.” as she scribbled in her little notebook.

In addition to observing yourself, you can find great examples of how to convey the physical experience of emotion in any book that’s successfully sparked emotion in you . 

But if you want the masterclass, check out The Sign for Home . Part of this novel is told through the POV of Arlo, a young DeafBlind man who experiences the world through physical sensation. The result is a lot of passages like these:

‍ Electricity ignites all over your brain, causing the hair follicles on your arms and the back of your neck to vibrate. 
‍ You had never met the principal before, but his power was legendary. Your face felt hot. Your stomach tightened. You wanted to pee.

When our brains read passages like this, they register these physical experiences as if they were our own. We feel the vibration and, therefore, the excitement. We don’t put ourselves in the character’s shoes as easily when all we know is that the character was “psyched.” 

Master the Art of Subtext

This is another skill that takes some real-world observation and a lot of novel-reading to master.

You probably know you can’t have your characters running around saying exactly what they feel all the time unless it’s an actual character trait. Real people don’t do that, so if your characters do it, your reader’s going to remember that this is all make-believe. 

Pssheww! That’s the sound of your reader’s emotional connection exploding.

So then how do you help your readers hear what your characters aren’t saying?

One helpful fact about human beings is that we’ve developed a sort of subtext shorthand. We already have phrases that we know will signal our feelings without requiring us to do the dirty business of actually stating those feelings outright. 

For example, here’s a line of dialogue from Seven Days in June with zero context.

‍ “Fine. Go explain to Audre why you’re scared to try new things.”

You don’t need me to tell you anything about the scene in order to understand that the speaker is tired of the listener’s crap. Right?

So, as a writer, all you have to do is start noticing our universal shorthand for “I’m pissed” and “I’m jealous.”

You can also use the descriptions between lines of dialogue to clarify your characters’ states of mind. Here’s another passage from the same novel:

‍ “What’s he like?” Shane knew he was going too far.
‍ “Travis Scott?”
‍ “Audre’s dad.”
‍ Eva sat back in the booth, hard. She grimaced and massaged a temple with her knuckles. “He’s stable .”
‍ Shane went further. “Where is he?”
‍ “You tell me. Where do men go when they’re done?”

You can feel the tension, right? To create it, the author taps into Shane’s thoughts (as he’s the POV character in this scene) and Eva’s actions. (Not to mention that stinging line at the end.)

It also helps that the author has written vivid characters. By this point in the story, we know these people well enough to understand how they’re likely to feel in this conversation. 

Incorporate Body Language

Three teenagers stand by a fence looking at a phone.

In the last example, Eva’s body language served as a clue that there were big feelings bubbling behind her measured words.

But body language and facial expressions aren’t just a subtext tool. They provide a window into a character’s state of mind in any given moment. Here’s Eva just standing around at a prestigious event right after unexpectedly running into Shane:

‍ [The dress] had gotten tighter somehow, sucking at her like Saran Wrap. She kept shifting it around her hips.

In other words, she can’t get comfortable… physically or emotionally.

Now, there’s one big challenge when it comes to using body language to convey emotions in writing. Most of us end up falling back on the same all-too-obvious body language cues.

‍ She wiped away a tear. He grinned. They shrugged.

My first drafts are positively riddled with shrugs and quiet smiles. A big part of polishing later drafts is going back over these boring descriptions and coming up with more specific, less repetitive details.

‍ The Emotion Thesaurus is an extremely helpful tool for this. So is good ol’ fashioned real-life observation.

Banish Clichés

As long as you’re searching that first draft for overused body language and facial expressions, you might as well look for clichés , too.

Because when we’re trying to get the reader to experience an emotion, we start loading up the clichés. 

‍ A single tear fell from his eye. She glared daggers. Their heart shattered into a million pieces.

These phrases are so common they’re almost meaningless. We’re numb to them. Unfortunately, their prevalence also makes them the first thing that comes to mind when we’re trying to describe emotions in writing.

Keep pushing past the first thought. Maybe even the second and third, too. Play with metaphor and (once again) use the physical to make the emotional come alive. 

When you do that, you can replace “They were meant to be” with passages more like:

‍ With him, she was at ease: her skin felt as though it were her right size.

(That’s from Americanah , by the way.)

Trust Your Reader

Finally, be aware that it is possible to overdo emotions in writing. 

Sometimes writers are so eager to make sure the reader connects with the character’s experience that they overload every page with feelings.

Emotional manipulation requires light touch. When a reader sees a lot of feelings talk, they stop seeing the story and start seeing the author frantically trying to tug at their heart.

Trust them to be smart enough to follow your subtext and the emotional logic of your story. When in doubt, invite your beta readers to tell you about their emotional experience of your novel.

Also allow your genre to inform how thick you want to lay it on. A noir mystery novel will probably take on a more cold and objective tone that only stirs curiosity and the occasional chill. 

Romances, on the other hand, tend to do a lot of emotional check-ins.

Know your readers. This is all for them, after all.

Let Dabble Help You Become a Master Manipulator

Now you know how to build a story that resonates and bring it home with powerful prose.

You’ve probably also figured out that this can be a messy process. Dabble can help.

Dabble’s Plot Grid allows you to plan, review, and edit your entire plot in one glimpse so you can see your characters’ emotional journey clearly. Plus, handy features like Comments and Stickies help you stay on top of pesky clichés and excessive shrugging.

A screenshot of a Dabble manuscript with a comment reminding the writer to revise the way they depict emotions in writing.

The best part? You can try all these features and more for free for fourteen days. No credit card required. How does that make you feel? Click here to get started.

Abi Wurdeman is the author of Cross-Section of a Human Heart: A Memoir of Early Adulthood, as well as the novella, Holiday Gifts for Insufferable People. She also writes for film and television with her brother and writing partner, Phil Wurdeman. On occasion, Abi pretends to be a poet. One of her poems is (legally) stamped into a sidewalk in Santa Clarita, California. When she’s not writing, Abi is most likely hiking, reading, or texting her mother pictures of her houseplants to ask why they look like that.

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example of mood in creative writing

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example of mood in creative writing

Book marketing. Those two innocuous words instill fear and loathing into the hearts of so many writers. You just want to write your books and have them sell themselves. Why do you have to tell people about it? Well, Susan, because you do. I know you want to write, but if your goal is to write, publish, and make money from your books, then you’re going to have to find a way to make them visible. Thousands of new titles are uploaded to Amazon every single day. Millions of books are being published every year, and no matter how good your story is, without marketing, there’s not much chance very many people will find it. 

example of mood in creative writing

What kind of writer are you? Are you the sort who writes a meticulous outline that tips into the five digits or the type who sits down in front of a blank sheet of paper and lets the words pour out of you like a runaway train? Did you know there are specific terms for this kind of writing? Writers will come up with words for anything, I swear. Plotters are the first type of writer. They like to have detailed outlines that tell them exactly where their story is going. Pantsers are the other type of writer, which is kind of a weird name, but the term was coined by Stephen King (a famous pantser) to describe writing by the seat of your pants. Cute, eh? There is no right or wrong way to write your book, and I’m going to repeat this so many times. The right way is the way that works for you. 

example of mood in creative writing

Dystopian fiction is one of the darker subgenres of science fiction and fantasy. It takes us into dark, foreboding worlds, where oppression and bleak landscapes are the norm. Books like 1984 by George Orwell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley have become classics that shine a light on political corruption, environmental disaster, and societal collapse.Why do we love these stories? Maybe it's because dystopian fiction allows us to explore worst-case scenarios, to grapple with the idea that the world we know and love could be lost forever. It's a way for us to confront our fears and anxieties about the future, to see what could happen if we continue down a certain path.

Definition of Mood

As a literary device, mood refers to the emotional response that the writer wishes to evoke in the reader through a story . This response can range anywhere from feelings of calm, fear, anger, or joy depending on the literary work. In general, short stories and poems feature a consistent mood due to their length. Novels can feature more than one mood, although readers will typically identify an overall emotional response to the work as a whole. Mood allows a writer to create a memorable and meaningful story with which the reader can connect. In addition, writers reveal their artistic use of language and creative skills when establishing the mood of a literary work.

For example, in her novel about the relationships between mothers and daughters, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club  utilizes mood as a literary device to evoke emotions in the reader as a parallel for the way the mother characters attempt to emotionally connect with their daughters.

It’s not that we had no heart or eyes for pain. We were all afraid. We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable…What was worse, to sit and wait for our own deaths with proper somber faces? Or to choose our own happiness?

In this passage, though the subject matter centers around pain, despair, and loss, the mood of the narrative is hopeful. Tan intentionally establishes this mood to evoke hope in readers in the same way that the mothers in the novel wish to inspire and evoke hope in their daughters.

Common Examples of Adjectives to Describe Mood

As a literary device, mood represents the emotional quality of a story that is created through the writer’s use of language. Mood can be evoked through description of events in a story, its setting , reactions among characters, and even through the story’s outcome or resolution of the conflict .

Here are some common examples of adjectives to describe mood:

  • sentimental

Examples of How Writers Establish Mood

Mood is an essential literary device to bring cohesion to a story and create an emotional response in readers. This response allows readers to experience emotion and connection within a story, making the literary work more meaningful and memorable. When writers establish mood, it should be consistent with the literary work so that the mood is not disjointed from the story yet remains emotionally accessible and resonant for readers. Though it may seem difficult to achieve mood in a story without being too overt or too subtle for readers, writers can rely on four techniques to craft this literary device.

Here are some examples of how writers establish mood:

A story’s setting refers to its “physical” location and time frame in which it takes place. Setting can have a distinct impact on the mood of a story. For example, if a story is set in an idyllic pasture on a sunny day, readers will be inclined to expect a happy mood. In turn, if a story is set in a futuristic dystopia , readers may expect a mood of tension or hopelessness.

Though tone and mood appear similar, they are distinct. Mood indicates the emotions evoked in the reader by the story. Tone refers to the narrator ’s attitude toward the events taking place in the story, which can also evoke emotion in a reader. The tone of a narrator can contribute to a story’s mood by enhancing the reader’s emotional response.

Choice of Words

Word choice in a story is key to establishing its mood. This includes the way words “sound” to a reader, perhaps harsh or loving, and the use of connotative meanings of words. For example, if a writer states that a family returned to their house, the implied meaning is that the family has come back to the structure in which they live. If, instead, a writer states that a family has returned to their home, the implied meaning is that the family has come back to a place of comfort and belonging. A writer’s choice of words is significant in establishing a story’s mood by evoking emotional responses in readers.

Subject Matter

The subject matter of a story can also help establish its mood. For example, a story about war is likely to feature a sad mood, whereas a story about romantic love is likely to feature a happy mood.

Difference Between Mood and Atmosphere

Though mood and atmosphere can seem interchangeable as literary devices , they are distinguishable. Essentially, mood is a literary device that is created directly by the writer to evoke an emotion in the reader. Atmosphere is a general feeling or sensation generated by the environment of a scene in a literary work. Atmosphere is a feeling imposed on the reader rather than an emotion evoked in a reader. For example, the atmosphere of a very dramatic scene in literature may be described as restrictive. However, “restrictive” is not applicable in describing the mood and emotion of the reader in response to the scene. Instead, restrictive applies to the atmospheric feeling of the environment created in the scene, not the mood.

Examples of Mood in Literature

Establishing mood in a story, poem , novel, or other fictional work is an essential literary device. Mood engages the reader with the narrative and helps them understand many aspects of a story on an emotional level. This allows the reader to make further connections with the literary work as the writer is able to express deeper meaning.

Here are some examples of mood in well-known literature:

Example 1:  Eurydice (H.D.)

So you have swept me back, I who could have walked with the live souls above the earth, I who could have slept among the live flowers at last; so for your arrogance and your ruthlessness I am swept back where dead lichens drip dead cinders upon moss of ash; so for your arrogance I am broken at last, I who had lived unconscious, who was almost forgot;

In her poem, H.D. gives Eurydice (a nymph in Greek mythology, daughter of Apollo, and wife of Orpheus) a voice to express her anger and resentment at her fate. Orpheus has the chance to rescue Eurydice from the Underworld and bring her back to life on Earth, under the condition that he not look back at her until both of them are touched by daylight. Unfortunately, Orpheus looks back at Eurydice as soon as he reaches the surface, not waiting for her to do the same, and she is banished once again to the Underworld forever.

The mood of the poem that H.D. establishes for the reader on the part of Eurydice is anger and resentment at Orpheus for his actions in determining her fate. This is clear through her choice of words such as “arrogance,” “ruthlessness,” and “broken.” However, there is an overarching mood of anguish in the poem as well that evokes the same feeling for readers. This anguish is a result of the “promise” of being brought back to life on Earth and all its beauty for Eurydice. She is in as much pain for the reawakening of hope in her at the thought of being among the living, and the anguished mood of the poem evokes these emotions in the reader as well.

Example 2:  And Then There Were None  (Agatha Christie)

The others went upstairs, a slow unwilling procession. If this had been an old house, with creaking wood, and dark shadows, and heavily panelled walls, there might have been an eerie feeling. But this house was the essence of modernity. There were no dark corners – no possible sliding panels – it was flooded with electric light – everything was new and bright and shining. There was nothing hidden in this house, nothing concealed. It had no atmosphere about it. Somehow, that was the most frightening thing of all. They exchanged good- nights on the upper landing. Each of them went into his or her own room, and each of them automatically, almost without conscious thought, locked the door….

In her well-known novel, Christie makes an interesting and clear delineation between mood and atmosphere in a narrative. The atmosphere of the house where the group is staying is modern, new, and open, and therefore emanates what should be a non-threatening feeling to the characters and readers as well. However, in describing the behavior of the characters in this “non-threatening” setting, the mood of the story becomes ominous and foreboding. Therefore, Christie utilizes mood as a literary device to evoke feelings in the reader of nervousness and fear even though the atmosphere of the setting does not appear frightening. This makes for an engaging and memorable reading experience.

Example 3:  The Old Man and the Sea  (Ernest Hemingway)

He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now . But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea .

In his well-known novel, Hemingway portrays a character (the old man) who lives much of his life in isolation and often suffers from loneliness. However, as demonstrated in this passage, the overall mood of the story reflects the comforting presence of nature, which eases the man’s feelings of loneliness and those of the reader as well. Hemingway establishes this mood through the peaceful and comforting tone of the narrator towards the old man and the setting, which influences the reader’s emotions.

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What is Mood in Writing? Examples, Definitions, and How to Create Them

What is Mood in Writing

M ood is the overall atmosphere or feeling of a piece of writing , which is influenced by diction , detail , and tone . It can range from sad and som ber to light hearted and humorous . The overall mood of a story is often determined by the author — so don ’ t forget to have fun with it !

Some famous examples of modern movies that do an amazing job conve ying mood include “ The Shining ” ( cre ep y ), “ The Note book ” ( rom antic ), and “ The Hang over ” ( h ilar ious ).

Understanding Mood in Writing: The Secret Sauce

Think of mood as the secret sauce of writing. It’s that invisible ingredient that adds flavor to the words, making them unforgettable. The secret to creating a distinct mood is to carefully choose words and details that evoke specific emotions. Just as a chef knows the right blend of spices for the perfect dish, a writer must find the perfect combination of elements to create the desired mood.

The Role of Diction in Setting the Mood

Diction, or the choice of words, plays a huge role in setting the mood of a piece of writing. Imagine the difference between describing a sunny day as “pleasant and warm” versus “scorching and unbearable.” The first description creates a mood of relaxation and enjoyment, while the second suggests discomfort and irritation. As a writer, choosing the right words is like choosing the right colors to paint a picture. Be mindful of the words and make sure they contribute to the desired mood.

Details make the writing come alive, and they also have a strong impact on the mood. By using vivid and descriptive language, the writer can draw the reader into the scene and make them feel a part of it. For example, a description of a haunted house might include details like “the floorboards creaked with each step, and a chill breeze slipped through the cracked windows.” This description creates an eerie and spooky mood, which is perfect for a horror story.

Tone is the attitude of the writer towards the subject or the audience. It is conveyed through the writer’s word choice, sentence structure, and use of literary devices. A sarcastic tone, for example, creates a mood of irony and humor, while a serious tone can create a mood of tension or solemnity. By adjusting the tone, a writer can fine-tune the mood of their story to suit their intended message.

Mood in Action: Examples of Different Moods in Writing

Now that the ingredients of mood have been explained, let’s explore some examples to see how they work together. Each example will demonstrate a different mood using diction, detail, and tone.

A Joyful Mood

The sun beamed brightly, casting a golden glow over the park. Laughter bubbled from children as they chased each other through the soft, green grass. A warm breeze carried the sweet scent of blooming flowers, and the cheerful chirping of birds filled the air.

This example creates a joyful and lighthearted mood through the use of positive diction (e.g., “beamed,” “golden,” “laughter”), vivid details (e.g., “soft, green grass,” “sweet scent of blooming flowers”), and an upbeat tone.

A Mysterious Mood

The thick fog rolled in, shrouding the town in a veil of gray. Shadows danced on the walls, and whispers seemed to echo through the dimly lit streets. Doors creaked on their hinges, and footsteps echoed softly in the distance, leaving a lingering sense of unease.

In this example, a mysterious and eerie mood is created by using diction that evokes uncertainty (e.g., “shrouding,” “whispers,” “echoed”), atmospheric details (e.g., “thick fog,” “dimly lit streets”), and a suspenseful tone.

A Melancholic Mood

The rain drizzled down, casting a dreary pallor over the city. People huddled beneath their umbrellas, their footsteps slow and heavy. The world seemed to be painted in shades of gray, and the constant patter of raindrops offered a somber soundtrack.

This passage creates a melancholic mood through the use of negative diction (e.g., “dreary,” “slow,” “heavy”), descriptive details (e.g., “rain drizzled down,” “shades of gray”), and a somber tone.

A Tense Mood

Sweat dripped down his brow as he gripped the steering wheel, knuckles turning white. The engine roared like a wild beast, and the tires screeched on the asphalt. Time seemed to slow down, each second feeling like an eternity, as the car raced towards the finish line.

Here, a tense and suspenseful mood is created through the use of intense diction (e.g., “gripped,” “roared,” “screeched”), vivid details (e.g., “sweat dripped down,” “knuckles turning white”), and a fast-paced tone.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Mood in Your Writing

Ready to set the mood in your own writing? Here are some tips to get started:

  • Identify the desired mood : Before writing, consider the mood you want to create. Is it a lighthearted comedy, a suspenseful thriller, or a heartwarming romance? Knowing the desired mood will guide your choice of words and details.
  • Choose appropriate diction : Select words that evoke the emotions you want your reader to feel. A happy scene might use words like “bright,” “cheerful,” and “giggling,” while a sad scene might use words like “gloomy,” “tearful,” and “sighing.”
  • Add vivid details : Use descriptive language to paint a picture for your reader. The more specific and sensory your details, the more the mood will come to life.
  • Adjust your tone : Consider your attitude towards the subject or the audience. Adjust your tone to match the mood you want to create, whether it’s playful, serious, or something in between.
  • Read your work aloud : Finally, read your writing aloud to see if the mood comes through. Sometimes, hearing the words spoken can help identify areas where the mood might need to be strengthened or adjusted.

In conclusion, mood is a vital element of writing that helps to create an emotional connection with the reader. By carefully selecting diction, incorporating vivid details, and adjusting the tone, writers can create powerful moods that will leave a lasting impression on their audience.

If you’re thirsty for more writing knowledge, head over here to  learn all 74 literary devices .

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What is Mood? Definition, Examples of Mood in Literature & Poetry

Home » The Writer’s Dictionary » What is Mood? Definition, Examples of Mood in Literature & Poetry

Mood definition: Mood—also known as atmosphere—is the overall feeling for the audience an author creates in his writing.

What is Mood / What is the Mood of a Story?

What does mood mean? Mood—also known as atmosphere—is the overall feeling for the audience an author creates in his writing. When you read a text and you have a particular feeling that you associate with the descriptive language, you are experiencing the mood of a story.

An author will create mood through language. He does not tell the reader what to think but rather utilizes the elements of writing to create a particular and specific feeling for the reader.

Example of mood definition literature

How to Create Mood in a Story

Creating Mood Through Setting:

A particular setting will help an author to create a particular mood. For example, an uninhabited, dilapidated house in an empty forest might be one setting. An author is going to use descriptive and sensory language to create that setting. The way that the audience feels as a result of that setting is mood.

Creating Mood Through Tone:

What is a mood examples

Creating Mood Through Diction:

Diction is perhaps the key player to creating mood. Each word an author selects should further communicate the mood he wants to create. This involves any narration or dialogue, as well.

For example, it would be very strange for the author trying to create a dreary mood to have an exclamation of excitement in his dialogue. Each word choice should reinforce the mood the author wants to achieve.

The Purpose of Mood

Literary definition of mood examples in literature

This is all due to mood. An author wants his reader to feel a certain way when he reads his text. In fact, mood is probably why we continue (or cease) to read a certain text. We either like the feeling the words give us, or we don’t.

Writers should create mood to match their intention. If the mood does not match the message, a reader will lose interest.

Examples of Mood in Literature

Mood in poetry meaning and mood poetry definition

The opening scene occurs as the watchmen are changing guard. Their discussion is about a ghost they saw the previous night. And, just as they are discussing, the ghost itself appears.

Here, Shakespeare utilizes diction, setting, and tone to create an ominous mood. He appropriately sets the stage for his tragedy, providing relevant background information, including the ghost of the murdered king, pulling in his audience and inciting fear and mystery.

Summary: Mood Literary Definition

Define mood in literature: The definition of mood in literature is the overall feeling and author creates for his audience.

Mood is the atmosphere the text creates. In a way, it’s all of the “unsaid” elements that create a feeling the text provides for the audience. Mood is essential to engage readers.

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Setting the Mood: Creating Atmosphere in Your Story

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Every writer aims to create an immersive experience that resonates with their reader. A crucial aspect of that is establishing the right mood or atmosphere. Mood can help create the setting of your story and give it a depth that makes it feel more alive. So, what exactly is mood and how do you build it?

Understanding Mood and Atmosphere

Mood, or atmosphere, is the feeling a writer wants to convey – joy, anxiety, contentment, annoyance. It breathes life into the characters, strengthens the setting, and reinforces a story’s theme. Mood often acts as a lens through which the reader interprets events and actions. 

This is separate from the tone, which is the attitude of the narrator. A story can have different moods and tones. For example, a book could have a serious or even scary mood but have a funny tone. 

Experimenting with moods and tones can add a new dimension to a novel. It can heighten tension, give a comedic edge, or create mystery.

Building Atmosphere

Use sensory details.

To tap into the reader’s emotions, try to create a scene that engages all their senses. When looking at a scene, identify which of the five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, taste – is most important in it. Focus on that sense when describing what’s happening to evoke the mood you want. Talk about the rustling of leaves, the startling rush of cold water in a hot bath, or the sour taste of a rotten grape. Paint pictures of experiences using tiny details.

Hold On To Inspiration

While writing, find inspiration for the mood you want to convey and hold onto it. Think of a word or image and keep it in your mind. You can also leave notes about mood and return to them while you’re in that mood (ex: writing while you’re angry to make a character believably angry) or recreate a scene or memory in real-life to feel it while writing.

Platforms like Pinterest or Spotify allow you to create mood boards and playlists to look at and listen to while you write. These can be a constant source of inspiration for different moods, which you can easily edit or save for another time.

Focus On Language, But Limit Imagery

Carefully consider word choice. For each scene, as yourself if the words you’re using match the mood you’re trying to set. If you’re writing a chase scene, use short and abrupt words with harsh sounds. If you’re writing a dark mood, use negative words.

Small details using the senses can add to this. Use words to describe the texture of furniture, the feeling of a piece of fabric, the sound of something in the distance or closeby. 

While you do this, experience with sentence, paragraph, and chapter lengths. These affect the atmosphere and pacing of the story. For example, sentence fragments can help create a quick pace and tense mood for an action sequence while longer, flowing sentences can create a sense of peace.

Be careful not to overdo it. Write about necessary details and refrain from too many metaphors. They can be redundant, complex, and distracting. Choose one to three themes to use as metaphors and refer to them subtly throughout the story.

The Importance of Setting

Setting is a powerful tool you can use to establish a mood. A sunny day can mean happiness while a rainy day sorrow or depression. But don’t limit your setting to just that. How you detail it can shape the mood it creates.

A forest can be whimsical in the morning light but frightening at night. A happy, sunny day can easily become foreboding if you describe the burning touch of the sun’s rays, cracked land, and shriveled plants. 

Characters and Dialogue

Don’t forget your characters. How you describe them can help shape what the reader feels, as long as an emotional connection has been established. Are they shaky? Jumpy? Have they stopped to think about something or are they running to tell someone happy news?  How they feel and act in a situation can add more layers to the mood already created through setting. 

Tackle It Later

Don’t get overwhelmed. Establishing mood can be really hard . First drafts aren’t about perfection; they’re about potential. If capturing the exact mood feels too diffcult, let the story flow and add in details about mood in the revisions stage.

Crafting the perfect atmosphere or mood in a story is an art that requires thoughtful consideration of various elements. By understanding what mood and atmosphere are, utilizing sensory details, focusing on language, considering setting and tone, and reflecting mood through characters and dialogue, writers can create a rich and resonant emotional landscape.

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Last updated on Feb 14, 2023

10 Types of Creative Writing (with Examples You’ll Love)

A lot falls under the term ‘creative writing’: poetry, short fiction, plays, novels, personal essays, and songs, to name just a few. By virtue of the creativity that characterizes it, creative writing is an extremely versatile art. So instead of defining what creative writing is , it may be easier to understand what it does by looking at examples that demonstrate the sheer range of styles and genres under its vast umbrella.

To that end, we’ve collected a non-exhaustive list of works across multiple formats that have inspired the writers here at Reedsy. With 20 different works to explore, we hope they will inspire you, too. 

People have been writing creatively for almost as long as we have been able to hold pens. Just think of long-form epic poems like The Odyssey or, later, the Cantar de Mio Cid — some of the earliest recorded writings of their kind. 

Poetry is also a great place to start if you want to dip your own pen into the inkwell of creative writing. It can be as short or long as you want (you don’t have to write an epic of Homeric proportions), encourages you to build your observation skills, and often speaks from a single point of view . 

Here are a few examples:

“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The ruins of pillars and walls with the broken statue of a man in the center set against a bright blue sky.

This classic poem by Romantic poet Percy Shelley (also known as Mary Shelley’s husband) is all about legacy. What do we leave behind? How will we be remembered? The great king Ozymandias built himself a massive statue, proclaiming his might, but the irony is that his statue doesn’t survive the ravages of time. By framing this poem as told to him by a “traveller from an antique land,” Shelley effectively turns this into a story. Along with the careful use of juxtaposition to create irony, this poem accomplishes a lot in just a few lines. 

“Trying to Raise the Dead” by Dorianne Laux

 A direction. An object. My love, it needs a place to rest. Say anything. I’m listening. I’m ready to believe. Even lies, I don’t care.

Poetry is cherished for its ability to evoke strong emotions from the reader using very few words which is exactly what Dorianne Laux does in “ Trying to Raise the Dead .” With vivid imagery that underscores the painful yearning of the narrator, she transports us to a private nighttime scene as the narrator sneaks away from a party to pray to someone they’ve lost. We ache for their loss and how badly they want their lost loved one to acknowledge them in some way. It’s truly a masterclass on how writing can be used to portray emotions. 

If you find yourself inspired to try out some poetry — and maybe even get it published — check out these poetry layouts that can elevate your verse!

Song Lyrics

Poetry’s closely related cousin, song lyrics are another great way to flex your creative writing muscles. You not only have to find the perfect rhyme scheme but also match it to the rhythm of the music. This can be a great challenge for an experienced poet or the musically inclined. 

To see how music can add something extra to your poetry, check out these two examples:

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

 You say I took the name in vain I don't even know the name But if I did, well, really, what's it to ya? There's a blaze of light in every word It doesn't matter which you heard The holy or the broken Hallelujah 

Metaphors are commonplace in almost every kind of creative writing, but will often take center stage in shorter works like poetry and songs. At the slightest mention, they invite the listener to bring their emotional or cultural experience to the piece, allowing the writer to express more with fewer words while also giving it a deeper meaning. If a whole song is couched in metaphor, you might even be able to find multiple meanings to it, like in Leonard Cohen’s “ Hallelujah .” While Cohen’s Biblical references create a song that, on the surface, seems like it’s about a struggle with religion, the ambiguity of the lyrics has allowed it to be seen as a song about a complicated romantic relationship. 

“I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie

 ​​If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks Then I'll follow you into the dark

A red neon

You can think of song lyrics as poetry set to music. They manage to do many of the same things their literary counterparts do — including tugging on your heartstrings. Death Cab for Cutie’s incredibly popular indie rock ballad is about the singer’s deep devotion to his lover. While some might find the song a bit too dark and macabre, its melancholy tune and poignant lyrics remind us that love can endure beyond death.

Plays and Screenplays

From the short form of poetry, we move into the world of drama — also known as the play. This form is as old as the poem, stretching back to the works of ancient Greek playwrights like Sophocles, who adapted the myths of their day into dramatic form. The stage play (and the more modern screenplay) gives the words on the page a literal human voice, bringing life to a story and its characters entirely through dialogue. 

Interested to see what that looks like? Take a look at these examples:

All My Sons by Arthur Miller

“I know you're no worse than most men but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father.” 

Creative Writing Examples | Photo of the Old Vic production of All My Sons by Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller acts as a bridge between the classic and the new, creating 20th century tragedies that take place in living rooms and backyard instead of royal courts, so we had to include his breakout hit on this list. Set in the backyard of an all-American family in the summer of 1946, this tragedy manages to communicate family tensions in an unimaginable scale, building up to an intense climax reminiscent of classical drama. 

💡 Read more about Arthur Miller and classical influences in our breakdown of Freytag’s pyramid . 

“Everything is Fine” by Michael Schur ( The Good Place )

“Well, then this system sucks. What...one in a million gets to live in paradise and everyone else is tortured for eternity? Come on! I mean, I wasn't freaking Gandhi, but I was okay. I was a medium person. I should get to spend eternity in a medium place! Like Cincinnati. Everyone who wasn't perfect but wasn't terrible should get to spend eternity in Cincinnati.” 

A screenplay, especially a TV pilot, is like a mini-play, but with the extra job of convincing an audience that they want to watch a hundred more episodes of the show. Blending moral philosophy with comedy, The Good Place is a fun hang-out show set in the afterlife that asks some big questions about what it means to be good. 

It follows Eleanor Shellstrop, an incredibly imperfect woman from Arizona who wakes up in ‘The Good Place’ and realizes that there’s been a cosmic mixup. Determined not to lose her place in paradise, she recruits her “soulmate,” a former ethics professor, to teach her philosophy with the hope that she can learn to be a good person and keep up her charade of being an upstanding citizen. The pilot does a superb job of setting up the stakes, the story, and the characters, while smuggling in deep philosophical ideas.

Personal essays

Our first foray into nonfiction on this list is the personal essay. As its name suggests, these stories are in some way autobiographical — concerned with the author’s life and experiences. But don’t be fooled by the realistic component. These essays can take any shape or form, from comics to diary entries to recipes and anything else you can imagine. Typically zeroing in on a single issue, they allow you to explore your life and prove that the personal can be universal.

Here are a couple of fantastic examples:

“On Selling Your First Novel After 11 Years” by Min Jin Lee (Literary Hub)

There was so much to learn and practice, but I began to see the prose in verse and the verse in prose. Patterns surfaced in poems, stories, and plays. There was music in sentences and paragraphs. I could hear the silences in a sentence. All this schooling was like getting x-ray vision and animal-like hearing. 

Stacks of multicolored hardcover books.

This deeply honest personal essay by Pachinko author Min Jin Lee is an account of her eleven-year struggle to publish her first novel . Like all good writing, it is intensely focused on personal emotional details. While grounded in the specifics of the author's personal journey, it embodies an experience that is absolutely universal: that of difficulty and adversity met by eventual success. 

“A Cyclist on the English Landscape” by Roff Smith (New York Times)

These images, though, aren’t meant to be about me. They’re meant to represent a cyclist on the landscape, anybody — you, perhaps. 

Roff Smith’s gorgeous photo essay for the NYT is a testament to the power of creatively combining visuals with text. Here, photographs of Smith atop a bike are far from simply ornamental. They’re integral to the ruminative mood of the essay, as essential as the writing. Though Smith places his work at the crosscurrents of various aesthetic influences (such as the painter Edward Hopper), what stands out the most in this taciturn, thoughtful piece of writing is his use of the second person to address the reader directly. Suddenly, the writer steps out of the body of the essay and makes eye contact with the reader. The reader is now part of the story as a second character, finally entering the picture.

Short Fiction

The short story is the happy medium of fiction writing. These bite-sized narratives can be devoured in a single sitting and still leave you reeling. Sometimes viewed as a stepping stone to novel writing, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Short story writing is an art all its own. The limited length means every word counts and there’s no better way to see that than with these two examples:

“An MFA Story” by Paul Dalla Rosa (Electric Literature)

At Starbucks, I remembered a reading Zhen had given, a reading organized by the program’s faculty. I had not wanted to go but did. In the bar, he read, "I wrote this in a Starbucks in Shanghai. On the bank of the Huangpu." It wasn’t an aside or introduction. It was two lines of the poem. I was in a Starbucks and I wasn’t writing any poems. I wasn’t writing anything. 

Creative Writing Examples | Photograph of New York City street.

This short story is a delightfully metafictional tale about the struggles of being a writer in New York. From paying the bills to facing criticism in a writing workshop and envying more productive writers, Paul Dalla Rosa’s story is a clever satire of the tribulations involved in the writing profession, and all the contradictions embodied by systemic creativity (as famously laid out in Mark McGurl’s The Program Era ). What’s more, this story is an excellent example of something that often happens in creative writing: a writer casting light on the private thoughts or moments of doubt we don’t admit to or openly talk about. 

“Flowering Walrus” by Scott Skinner (Reedsy)

I tell him they’d been there a month at least, and he looks concerned. He has my tongue on a tissue paper and is gripping its sides with his pointer and thumb. My tongue has never spent much time outside of my mouth, and I imagine it as a walrus basking in the rays of the dental light. My walrus is not well. 

A winner of Reedsy’s weekly Prompts writing contest, ‘ Flowering Walrus ’ is a story that balances the trivial and the serious well. In the pauses between its excellent, natural dialogue , the story manages to scatter the fear and sadness of bad medical news, as the protagonist hides his worries from his wife and daughter. Rich in subtext, these silences grow and resonate with the readers.

Want to give short story writing a go? Give our free course a go!

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Perhaps the thing that first comes to mind when talking about creative writing, novels are a form of fiction that many people know and love but writers sometimes find intimidating. The good news is that novels are nothing but one word put after another, like any other piece of writing, but expanded and put into a flowing narrative. Piece of cake, right?

To get an idea of the format’s breadth of scope, take a look at these two (very different) satirical novels: 

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

I wished I was back in the convenience store where I was valued as a working member of staff and things weren’t as complicated as this. Once we donned our uniforms, we were all equals regardless of gender, age, or nationality — all simply store workers. 

Creative Writing Examples | Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Keiko, a thirty-six-year-old convenience store employee, finds comfort and happiness in the strict, uneventful routine of the shop’s daily operations. A funny, satirical, but simultaneously unnerving examination of the social structures we take for granted, Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is deeply original and lingers with the reader long after they’ve put it down.

Erasure by Percival Everett

The hard, gritty truth of the matter is that I hardly ever think about race. Those times when I did think about it a lot I did so because of my guilt for not thinking about it.  

Erasure is a truly accomplished satire of the publishing industry’s tendency to essentialize African American authors and their writing. Everett’s protagonist is a writer whose work doesn’t fit with what publishers expect from him — work that describes the “African American experience” — so he writes a parody novel about life in the ghetto. The publishers go crazy for it and, to the protagonist’s horror, it becomes the next big thing. This sophisticated novel is both ironic and tender, leaving its readers with much food for thought.

Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction is pretty broad: it applies to anything that does not claim to be fictional (although the rise of autofiction has definitely blurred the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction). It encompasses everything from personal essays and memoirs to humor writing, and they range in length from blog posts to full-length books. The defining characteristic of this massive genre is that it takes the world or the author’s experience and turns it into a narrative that a reader can follow along with.

Here, we want to focus on novel-length works that dig deep into their respective topics. While very different, these two examples truly show the breadth and depth of possibility of creative nonfiction:

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men’s bodies litter my family history. The pain of the women they left behind pulls them from the beyond, makes them appear as ghosts. In death, they transcend the circumstances of this place that I love and hate all at once and become supernatural. 

Writer Jesmyn Ward recounts the deaths of five men from her rural Mississippi community in as many years. In her award-winning memoir , she delves into the lives of the friends and family she lost and tries to find some sense among the tragedy. Working backwards across five years, she questions why this had to happen over and over again, and slowly unveils the long history of racism and poverty that rules rural Black communities. Moving and emotionally raw, Men We Reaped is an indictment of a cruel system and the story of a woman's grief and rage as she tries to navigate it.

Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

He believed that wine could reshape someone’s life. That’s why he preferred buying bottles to splurging on sweaters. Sweaters were things. Bottles of wine, said Morgan, “are ways that my humanity will be changed.” 

In this work of immersive journalism , Bianca Bosker leaves behind her life as a tech journalist to explore the world of wine. Becoming a “cork dork” takes her everywhere from New York’s most refined restaurants to science labs while she learns what it takes to be a sommelier and a true wine obsessive. This funny and entertaining trip through the past and present of wine-making and tasting is sure to leave you better informed and wishing you, too, could leave your life behind for one devoted to wine. 

Illustrated Narratives (Comics, graphic novels)

Once relegated to the “funny pages”, the past forty years of comics history have proven it to be a serious medium. Comics have transformed from the early days of Jack Kirby’s superheroes into a medium where almost every genre is represented. Humorous one-shots in the Sunday papers stand alongside illustrated memoirs, horror, fantasy, and just about anything else you can imagine. This type of visual storytelling lets the writer and artist get creative with perspective, tone, and so much more. For two very different, though equally entertaining, examples, check these out:

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

"Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure." 

A Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. A little blond boy Calvin makes multiple silly faces in school photos. In the last panel, his father says, "That's our son. *Sigh*" His mother then says, "The pictures will remind of more than we want to remember."

This beloved comic strip follows Calvin, a rambunctious six-year-old boy, and his stuffed tiger/imaginary friend, Hobbes. They get into all kinds of hijinks at school and at home, and muse on the world in the way only a six-year-old and an anthropomorphic tiger can. As laugh-out-loud funny as it is, Calvin & Hobbes ’ popularity persists as much for its whimsy as its use of humor to comment on life, childhood, adulthood, and everything in between. 

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell 

"I shall tell you where we are. We're in the most extreme and utter region of the human mind. A dim, subconscious underworld. A radiant abyss where men meet themselves. Hell, Netley. We're in Hell." 

Comics aren't just the realm of superheroes and one-joke strips, as Alan Moore proves in this serialized graphic novel released between 1989 and 1998. A meticulously researched alternative history of Victorian London’s Ripper killings, this macabre story pulls no punches. Fact and fiction blend into a world where the Royal Family is involved in a dark conspiracy and Freemasons lurk on the sidelines. It’s a surreal mad-cap adventure that’s unsettling in the best way possible. 

Video Games and RPGs

Probably the least expected entry on this list, we thought that video games and RPGs also deserved a mention — and some well-earned recognition for the intricate storytelling that goes into creating them. 

Essentially gamified adventure stories, without attention to plot, characters, and a narrative arc, these games would lose a lot of their charm, so let’s look at two examples where the creative writing really shines through: 

80 Days by inkle studios

"It was a triumph of invention over nature, and will almost certainly disappear into the dust once more in the next fifty years." 

A video game screenshot of 80 days. In the center is a city with mechanical legs. It's titled "The Moving City." In the lower right hand corner is a profile of man with a speech balloon that says, "A starched collar, very good indeed."

Named Time Magazine ’s game of the year in 2014, this narrative adventure is based on Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. The player is cast as the novel’s narrator, Passpartout, and tasked with circumnavigating the globe in service of their employer, Phileas Fogg. Set in an alternate steampunk Victorian era, the game uses its globe-trotting to comment on the colonialist fantasies inherent in the original novel and its time period. On a storytelling level, the choose-your-own-adventure style means no two players’ journeys will be the same. This innovative approach to a classic novel shows the potential of video games as a storytelling medium, truly making the player part of the story. 

What Remains of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow

"If we lived forever, maybe we'd have time to understand things. But as it is, I think the best we can do is try to open our eyes, and appreciate how strange and brief all of this is." 

This video game casts the player as 17-year-old Edith Finch. Returning to her family’s home on an island in the Pacific northwest, Edith explores the vast house and tries to figure out why she’s the only one of her family left alive. The story of each family member is revealed as you make your way through the house, slowly unpacking the tragic fate of the Finches. Eerie and immersive, this first-person exploration game uses the medium to tell a series of truly unique tales. 

Fun and breezy on the surface, humor is often recognized as one of the trickiest forms of creative writing. After all, while you can see the artistic value in a piece of prose that you don’t necessarily enjoy, if a joke isn’t funny, you could say that it’s objectively failed.

With that said, it’s far from an impossible task, and many have succeeded in bringing smiles to their readers’ faces through their writing. Here are two examples:

‘How You Hope Your Extended Family Will React When You Explain Your Job to Them’ by Mike Lacher (McSweeney’s Internet Tendency)

“Is it true you don’t have desks?” your grandmother will ask. You will nod again and crack open a can of Country Time Lemonade. “My stars,” she will say, “it must be so wonderful to not have a traditional office and instead share a bistro-esque coworking space.” 

An open plan office seen from a bird's eye view. There are multiple strands of Edison lights hanging from the ceiling. At long light wooden tables multiple people sit working at computers, many of them wearing headphones.

Satire and parody make up a whole subgenre of creative writing, and websites like McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The Onion consistently hit the mark with their parodies of magazine publishing and news media. This particular example finds humor in the divide between traditional family expectations and contemporary, ‘trendy’ work cultures. Playing on the inherent silliness of today’s tech-forward middle-class jobs, this witty piece imagines a scenario where the writer’s family fully understands what they do — and are enthralled to hear more. “‘Now is it true,’ your uncle will whisper, ‘that you’ve got a potential investment from one of the founders of I Can Haz Cheezburger?’”

‘Not a Foodie’ by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell (Electric Literature)

I’m not a foodie, I never have been, and I know, in my heart, I never will be. 

Highlighting what she sees as an unbearable social obsession with food , in this comic Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell takes a hilarious stand against the importance of food. From the writer’s courageous thesis (“I think there are more exciting things to talk about, and focus on in life, than what’s for dinner”) to the amusing appearance of family members and the narrator’s partner, ‘Not a Foodie’ demonstrates that even a seemingly mundane pet peeve can be approached creatively — and even reveal something profound about life.

We hope this list inspires you with your own writing. If there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be that there is no limit to what you can write about or how you can write about it. 

In the next part of this guide, we'll drill down into the fascinating world of creative nonfiction.

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WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®

WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®

Helping writers become bestselling authors

Creating Mood In A Scene Using Light and Shadow

August 22, 2016 by ANGELA ACKERMAN

What’s one of the first things a person does to set the mood at home for a romantic evening? She turns down the lights. This simple adjustment is a big step toward creating a calm, receptive atmosphere. Just as the amount and quality of lighting will influence the way people feel in real life, we can adjust the mood for both characters and readers in our stories by playing with light and shadow.

Most everyone has familiar places that they’ve visited in daylight. But enter that same place at night and it becomes unfamiliar, with a totally different feel. By changing the amount and quality of light in a given place, you can shift the mood without changing the setting. For example, consider an example from a classic, L. M. Montgomery’s description of Birch Path, a recurring location in her Anne of Green Gables series:

AGG1

      It was a little narrow, twisting path, winding down over a long hill straight through Mr. Bell’s woods, where the light came down sifted through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless as the heart of a diamond.

One can easily envision this scene under the trees. The green-tinged sunlight gives the scene a lighthearted, cheerful feel, and though the season isn’t mentioned, late spring or summer is inferred, simply by referencing the light.

But the same path traveled later in the day by a character in another frame of mind can look and feel vastly different. Here is Birch Path again, traveled by a more mature Anne in the third book of the series:

AGG2

  Anne felt lonelier than ever as she walked home, going by way of the Birch Path and Willowmere. She had not walked that way for many moons. It was a darkly-purple bloomy night. The air was heavy with blossom fragrance—almost too heavy.

The darkly-purple light, combined with Anne’s loneliness and the cloying odors, give the scene a heavy, melancholy feel that wasn’t there before.

(Do keep in mind this example is sourced from a classic, and when writing for a modern audience, we’d need to be careful about wandering too far down the flowery language path–pun intentional!)

Because light and shadow lies within the realm of universal symbolism , people tend to respond to light in a feral way: well-lit areas are deemed safer, putting us at ease, while darker spots have more weight and feel heavier both on the body and the spirit. When setting the mood for a scene, carefully consider the lighting. How much light is there? Where does it come from? Is it hard or soft, comforting or blinding? Is it constant and totally revealing, or does it allow for shadows and hidden places? Questions like these will serve as a guide for how to light a scene in order to set the desired mood.

Keep in mind however that light and shadow may represent something entirely different if one has taken the time to set up personal symbolism . Light itself may represent pain, exposure, risk, or danger to a character who lives safely below ground, or by the necessity of survival, is only able to come out at night. One needs only to look at vampire, werewolf, and demon fiction to see this played out within a story.

TIP: Should you adapt the universal symbolism of light and shadow to something personal which fits the personality of your point of view character or the reality of the world upon which the story is built, make sure to set this up so the meaning is always clear to readers.

Want more ideas on how to set the mood? Save this checklist to Pinterest.

The Setting Thesaurus_Mood Building

Becca and I have a love affair with powerful description , the kind that does so much more than paints a picture for readers. Creating Mood is only one of ways setting can make your scenes rich and more meaningful.

If you’d like to find out how to also use it to characterize the story’s cast , reveal critical backstory naturally and effectively, steer the plot , reinforce emotion , provide tension & conflict , poke at your protagonist’s emotional wounds and gosh, SO MUCH MORE, we hope you’ll check out our new Urban Setting and Rural Setting Thesaurus books.  🙂

The Setting Thesaurus Duo

Happy writing!

And, if you’d like more information on creating mood, visit Jami Gold’s terrific blog. 🙂

ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers , a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.

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Reader Interactions

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February 17, 2021 at 9:17 am

Excellent, as always. Thanks, Becca and Angela.

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February 17, 2021 at 11:58 am

Happy to be of service 🙂

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August 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Excellent information, as always. Thanks!!

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August 22, 2016 at 12:20 pm

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a new writer was that straight description is almost never as powerful as description filtered through the lens of the point-of-view character. These are perfect examples, thanks.

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August 22, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Yes, absolutely! When you filter it, you get the emotional slant of that description. A character who is afraid will see the world much differently than one that is content, or filled with gratitude, or elation.

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August 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Okay okay, I’ll buy a setting thesaurus! Question: my own epic-in-the-making, The Age of Pisces, is set in the ancient past (48 BC to start with). Would your Urban Setting Thesaurus have anything to offer the creator of ancient urban settings? Or should I stick with The Rural Setting Thesaurus ?

August 22, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Both of the thesaurus books have high level lessons on how to use description effectively, so we recommend using them as a pair, but that said, for you, Rural will likely have the most value as far as the entries go and that volume contains the natural settings (rivers, mountains, deserts, forests, etc.) However, with the urban volume, keep in mind that while clearly a historical book won’t use the exact same description as a contemporary setting, the elements will be the same in the sense that urban areas, past or present, will still have streets, law enforcement and government buildings, cultural influences, entertainment venues, construction, etc. and so you can use this volume to help you layer realism in any setting. 🙂

Hope this helps! And thanks for wanting to give it a test drive. 🙂 We hope you love either or both, whichever you choose. 🙂

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August 22, 2016 at 8:28 am

This was a great post. Just added it to my Pinterest board and my class wiki. Thanks.

August 22, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Awesome! Glad it will help 🙂

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August 22, 2016 at 8:19 am

I love prose that creates mood and scenes that I can sink into. But I have to say that the “darkly-purple bloomy night” would read as purple prose to most modern readers today. Your Rural Setting Thesaurus looks fascinating though. I’ve got to get it.

August 22, 2016 at 10:04 am

Paula, I agree–this example does walk the edge and if there was too much of this, it would definitely be purple. That’s one thing we definitely do need to remember when sourcing the classics, so I should probably add a disclaimer. That said, I also love the creativity if it, of thinking past the common, so that’s why I included it. 🙂

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154 Mood Words: Understanding Their Power and Impact

By: Author English Study Online

Posted on Last updated: August 2, 2023

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Mood words are used to describe the emotional state of a person or character in a story or essay. They can help to create a particular mood or atmosphere in a piece of writing. Mood words can also be used to describe the emotional state of a person in real life. For example, if someone is feeling sad, they might use words like “depressed,” “melancholy,” or “blue” to describe their mood.

Mood Words

Table of Contents

Understanding Mood Words

Mood vs emotion.

Mood and emotion are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Emotions are intense feelings that are usually triggered by a specific event or situation. They are often fleeting and short-lived. Moods, on the other hand, are less intense and longer-lasting. They are not always triggered by a specific event or situation, but can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as weather, hormones, and stress.

Mood vs Sentiment

Mood and sentiment are also often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing either. Sentiment refers to an overall attitude or feeling towards something, while mood refers to a specific emotional state. For example, someone might have a positive sentiment towards a particular brand, but be in a negative mood due to a personal issue.

Mood vs Temperament

Temperament refers to a person’s natural disposition or personality traits. It is often used to describe someone’s general mood or emotional state over time. Mood, on the other hand, is a temporary emotional state that can fluctuate throughout the day or even within a few minutes.

Understanding the differences between mood, emotion, sentiment, and temperament is important when using mood words in writing. Mood words are adjectives that describe the emotional tone or atmosphere of a particular scene, character, or piece of writing. They can be used to create a specific mood or to enhance the reader’s emotional response to a particular situation.

Some common mood words include:

  • Suspenseful

When using mood words in writing, it is important to consider the context and the intended effect on the reader. Using too many mood words can be overwhelming and distracting, while using too few can make the writing feel flat and unemotional. The key is to strike a balance and use mood words strategically to create the desired emotional response in the reader.

Types of Mood Words

Mood words are words that help to describe the emotional state of a character, situation, or setting. These words are essential in writing because they help to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. There are two main types of mood words: positive and negative.

Positive Mood Words

Positive mood words are used to describe emotions that are generally considered to be pleasant. They can be used to create a sense of happiness, joy, or contentment in the reader. Some examples of positive mood words include:

Using positive mood words in writing can help to create a sense of positivity and happiness in the reader. It can also help to create a sense of hope and optimism.

Negative Mood Words

Negative mood words are used to describe emotions that are generally considered to be unpleasant. They can be used to create a sense of sadness, anger, or fear in the reader. Some examples of negative mood words include:

Using negative mood words in writing can help to create a sense of tension and conflict in the reader. It can also help to create a sense of realism and authenticity.

154 Mood Words List

There are many mood words that can be used in writing. Some of the most common mood words include:

Using a variety of mood words in writing can help to create a sense of depth and complexity in the reader’s understanding of the characters and situations.

Mood Words and Emotions

Mood words are an essential tool for writers to convey the atmosphere of a scene or describe a character’s emotional state. Emotions and moods are closely related, but they are not the same thing. Emotions are intense feelings that are often triggered by specific events, while moods are more generalized and longer-lasting.

Happy and Excited

When someone is feeling happy or excited, they may use words like:

These words can be used to describe a person’s mood or the atmosphere of a scene. For example, a writer might describe a room as “filled with joy and excitement” to convey the mood of a party.

Sad and Down

When someone is feeling sad or down, they may use words like:

  • Heartbroken

These words can be used to describe a person’s mood or the atmosphere of a scene. For example, a writer might describe a rainy day as “dreary and melancholy” to convey the mood of the weather.

Angry and Frustrated

When someone is feeling angry or frustrated, they may use words like:

These words can be used to describe a person’s mood or the atmosphere of a scene. For example, a writer might describe a tense conversation as “filled with anger and frustration” to convey the mood of the interaction.

Confused and Anxious

When someone is feeling confused or anxious, they may use words like:

  • Overwhelmed

These words can be used to describe a person’s mood or the atmosphere of a scene. For example, a writer might describe a character’s thoughts as “jumbled and confused” to convey the mood of their mental state.

Calm and Relaxed

When someone is feeling calm or relaxed, they may use words like:

These words can be used to describe a person’s mood or the atmosphere of a scene. For example, a writer might describe a peaceful garden as “serene and tranquil” to convey the mood of the setting.

In conclusion, mood words are an essential tool for writers to convey the atmosphere of a scene or describe a character’s emotional state. By using the appropriate words, writers can create a vivid and immersive experience for their readers.

Mood Words and Personality

Mood words can be used to describe not only a person’s current emotional state, but also their overall personality. The words used to describe an individual’s mood can give insight into their general disposition and temperament.

For example, someone who frequently uses words like “happy,” “content,” and “optimistic” to describe their mood may be seen as generally positive and upbeat. On the other hand, someone who frequently uses words like “sad,” “anxious,” and “irritable” may be seen as more negative or pessimistic.

It’s important to note that mood words can be influenced by a variety of factors, including external circumstances, physical health, and mental health. Therefore, it’s important not to make sweeping judgments about a person’s personality based solely on the words they use to describe their mood.

However, paying attention to the mood words someone uses can be a useful tool in understanding their general outlook on life and how they may approach different situations.

Here are a few examples of mood words and the personality traits they may be associated with:

Positive mood words: Happy, joyful, content, optimistic, grateful

  • These words may be associated with a generally positive and optimistic personality.

Negative mood words: Sad, anxious, irritable, angry, frustrated

  • These words may be associated with a more negative or pessimistic personality.

Neutral mood words: Calm, relaxed, indifferent, bored, curious

  • These words may be associated with a more even-keeled or curious personality.

Overall, paying attention to the mood words someone uses can be a useful tool in understanding their general disposition and temperament. However, it’s important to keep in mind that mood words are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding someone’s personality.

Mood Words in Literature

When it comes to literature, mood words are essential to create a specific atmosphere for the reader. These words help to establish the tone and emotion of the story, which can range from suspenseful to lighthearted, melancholy to romantic, and everything in between. In this section, we will explore how mood words are used in literature to create a particular mood and how they can be used to depict characters.

Creating Atmosphere

Mood words are used to create an atmosphere that immerses the reader in the story. Words like “dark,” “ominous,” and “foreboding” can create a sense of danger or suspense, while “bright,” “sunny,” and “joyful” can create a lighthearted and happy atmosphere. The use of color is also crucial in creating a mood. For example, the color blue can represent sadness or melancholy, while red can represent anger or passion.

Authors use a variety of techniques to create atmosphere, including the use of imagery, metaphors, and similes. They may describe the setting in detail, using sensory language to help the reader visualize the scene. For example, in “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the color green to represent wealth and envy, creating a sense of opulence and decadence.

Depicting Characters

Mood words can also be used to depict characters in literature. The way a character is described can give the reader insight into their personality, emotions, and motivations. For example, a character described as “moody” may be unpredictable and prone to sudden changes in emotion, while a character described as “cheerful” may be optimistic and positive.

Authors may also use mood words to create contrast between characters. For example, in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee contrasts the innocent and playful mood of Scout and Jem with the dark and ominous mood surrounding the trial of Tom Robinson.

In conclusion, mood words are an essential tool for authors to create a specific atmosphere and depict characters in literature. By using sensory language and color, authors can immerse the reader in the story and create a mood that reflects the tone and emotion of the narrative.

Mood Words in Everyday Life

Mood words are an essential part of everyday life. People use them to express their feelings and emotions, whether they are happy, sad, angry, or anxious. Mood words can help individuals communicate their emotions to others, which can lead to better understanding and empathy. Here are some examples of how mood words are used in everyday life:

Conversations

When people talk to each other, they often use mood words to convey their feelings and emotions. For example, if someone is feeling happy, they might say, “I’m feeling great today!” or “I’m so excited about this.” Similarly, if someone is feeling sad, they might say, “I’m feeling down today” or “I’m feeling a bit blue.” Mood words can help people express their emotions more clearly, which can lead to better communication and understanding.

Mood words are also commonly used in writing, whether it’s in a personal journal or a professional document. Writers use mood words to convey the tone and atmosphere of their writing. For example, if someone is writing a horror story, they might use mood words like “creepy,” “eerie,” or “chilling” to create a sense of suspense and fear. Similarly, if someone is writing a love letter, they might use mood words like “romantic,” “passionate,” or “tender” to convey their feelings of love and affection.

Music is another area where mood words are commonly used. Musicians use mood words to describe the emotions and feelings that their music evokes. For example, a musician might describe their music as “upbeat,” “energetic,” or “joyful” if they want to create a sense of happiness and excitement. Alternatively, they might use mood words like “melancholy,” “sad,” or “heartbroken” if they want to create a sense of sadness and loss.

Artists also use mood words to convey the emotions and feelings that their art evokes. For example, a painter might use mood words like “vibrant,” “colorful,” or “lively” to describe their artwork if they want to create a sense of energy and excitement. Alternatively, they might use mood words like “dark,” “moody,” or “mysterious” if they want to create a sense of mystery and intrigue.

In conclusion, mood words are an important part of everyday life. They help people express their emotions and feelings, whether it’s in conversations, writing, music, or art. By using mood words, people can communicate more effectively and create a better understanding of their emotions and thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some unique words to describe moods?

Some unique words to describe moods include “ennui” to describe a feeling of boredom or dissatisfaction, “melancholy” to describe a feeling of sadness or depression, and “euphoria” to describe a feeling of intense happiness or excitement.

What are examples of mood in literature?

Mood in literature refers to the atmosphere or feeling that a piece of writing evokes in the reader. Examples of mood in literature include the eerie and tense mood in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” the romantic and dreamy mood in William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” and the somber and reflective mood in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.”

What are some negative mood words in literature?

Negative mood words in literature include “despair,” “gloom,” “anguish,” “depression,” and “hopelessness.” These words are used to convey a sense of sadness, despair, or hopelessness in the reader.

What are some words to describe mood in mental health?

Words to describe mood in mental health include “anxious,” “depressed,” “manic,” “irritable,” and “apathetic.” These words are used to describe different emotional states that may be experienced by individuals with mental health conditions.

What are some types of mood?

Types of mood include “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “anxious,” “romantic,” “melancholy,” “euphoric,” and “peaceful.” These different types of mood can be experienced in response to different situations and stimuli.

What words describe a positive mood?

Words that describe a positive mood include “joyful,” “excited,” “content,” “optimistic,” “hopeful,” and “grateful.” These words are used to describe feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and positivity.

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  4. How to Set the Mood in Creative Writing

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  5. Tone vs. Mood: How to Use Tone and Mood in Your Writing

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Set the Mood in Creative Writing

    When you finish a book or a chapter and pause to linger in the moment, it's because that author has left an emotional impression on you. Mood is one of the ways you can create that emotional impression in each of your scenes.

  2. How to Create Atmosphere and Mood in Writing

    While this line (part of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel Paul Clifford) is an infamous example of over-the-top creative writing, it also serves a very important purpose for the novel's opening scene: it establishes a clear mood. Every piece of literature has a mood, because a strong mood is vital for a story's emotional resonance and lasting power.

  3. What is Mood in Literature? Mood Definition and Examples

    In this article, we'll be talking about a story's mood —what it means, how to build it within your story world, and some helpful literary examples from effective novels. What is mood in literature? A story's mood is defined as the emotional response the story creates within the reader.

  4. How To Convey Emotion in Your Writing: 12 Tips (with Examples)

    Tone defines the mood of your writing — relaxed, serious, humorous, friendly, etc. — so aligning it with the emotion(s) you want to convey is key. Say you want to evoke joy in your writing. Ensure your tone is lively and filled with positive language. For example, instead of writing, "I was happy," say, "My heart was bursting with ...

  5. Emotive Language in Creative Writing, & How to Use It in a Story

    Emotive language, according to Writing Explained, is: … word choice that is used to evoke emotion. The language is just as important as presentation. Strategic presentation = writing for emotional impact. It's not about stuffing your pages full of emotionally-charged words and calling it quits.

  6. What is Mood in Literature? Creating Mood in Writing

    Take the below example: Statement of emotion: The land felt bleak and barren. Emotion evoked through mood: The land sat gray and lifeless, unstirred by sun or rain. Often, works of literature, especially longform prose and poetry, evoke multiple different emotions.

  7. How to Build Atmosphere in Creative Writing

    Atmosphere and mood in creative writing are very similar. In fact, the terms overlap. Both refer to the emotion of a scene. Both influence the other. The difference is atmosphere is more about the emotion of the setting, the space of the scene, and mood is more about the emotion of the overall scene.

  8. Mood

    Resources Mood Definition What is mood? Here's a quick and simple definition: The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader.

  9. Mood In Writing: What It Is And How To Create It

    Example One: Agatha Christie is one of my favourite authors because she truly makes me feel something. The others went upstairs, a slow unwilling procession. If this had been an old house, with creaking wood, and dark shadows, and heavily panelled walls, there might have been an eerie feeling. But this house was the essence of modernity.

  10. Creating Mood And Atmosphere In Your Writing

    Many writers are able to create mood and atmosphere with little effort. But to become a better writer, you need a conscious, practical sense of the tools you can use to manipulate mood, atmosphere, and tone in your writing. 8 Sure-fire Ways To Establish Mood Using all of these tools together will help you create a consistent atmosphere or mood:

  11. Creating the mood of a story: 6 tips for strong atmosphere

    For example, you can create a creepy mood in an old, dilapidated house by describing sounds that suggest eerie presence. For example: Creaking. Rattling. Thumping. Whistling (of the wind) Moaning. Humming. Similarly, making a character tiptoe, creep or inch through a house immediately casts a mood over the setting.

  12. Tone in Writing: 42 Examples of Tone For All Types of Writing

    by Joe Bunting | 1 Comment What is tone in writing and why does it matter? Tone is key to all communication. Think of the mother telling her disrespectful child, "Watch your tone, young man." Or the sarcastic, humorous tone of a comedian performing stand up. Or the awe filled way people speak about their favorite musician, author, or actor.

  13. How to Create a Captivating Mood and Atmosphere in Your Writing

    1. Set the mood by carefully choosing your words. When you write your sentences, pay attention to the words that you use. Even synonyms can evoke very different emotions and mental images and mean very different things. For example, I looked up synonyms for "puddle" in an online thesaurus.

  14. Mood in Literature: Definition and Examples

    Below are 30 examples of words that might be used to describe mood in literature. As you will notice, most words that describe emotions or feelings can also be used to describe mood. . Mood Adjectives Download the list of 30 words to describe mood to help you identify moods in different types of writing. Examples of Mood in Literature

  15. Describing Sadness in Creative Writing: 33 Ways to ...

    Let's start with some concrete examples of sadness metaphors and similes: Here are 33 ways to express sadness in creative writing: A heavy sigh escaped her lips as a tear rolled down her cheek. His eyes glistened with unleashed tears that he quickly blinked away. Her heart felt like it was being squeezed by a cold, metal fist.

  16. Emotions in Writing: The Author's Guide to Stirring Up Big Feels

    Unfortunately, their prevalence also makes them the first thing that comes to mind when we're trying to describe emotions in writing. Keep pushing past the first thought. Maybe even the second and third, too. Play with metaphor and (once again) use the physical to make the emotional come alive.

  17. Mood

    Common Examples of Adjectives to Describe Mood As a literary device, mood represents the emotional quality of a story that is created through the writer's use of language. Mood can be evoked through description of events in a story, its setting, reactions among characters, and even through the story's outcome or resolution of the conflict.

  18. What is Mood in Writing? Examples, Definitions, and How to Create Them

    It can range from sad and somber to lighthearted and humorous. The overall mood of a story is often determined by the author—so don't forget to have fun with it! Some famous examples of modern movies that do an amazing job conveying mood include "The Shining" (creepy), "The Notebook" (romantic), and "The Hangover" (hilarious).

  19. What is Mood? Definition, Examples of Mood in ...

    Summary: Mood Literary Definition. Define mood in literature: The definition of mood in literature is the overall feeling and author creates for his audience. Mood is the atmosphere the text creates. In a way, it's all of the "unsaid" elements that create a feeling the text provides for the audience. Mood is essential to engage readers ...

  20. Setting the Mood: Creating Atmosphere in Your Story

    Mood, or atmosphere, is the feeling a writer wants to convey - joy, anxiety, contentment, annoyance. It breathes life into the characters, strengthens the setting, and reinforces a story's theme. Mood often acts as a lens through which the reader interprets events and actions. This is separate from the tone, which is the attitude of the narrator.

  21. Tone vs. Mood

    What is mood in writing? Mood, on the other hand, is the vibe that a larger chunk of text gives you. Think of descriptions of spooky locales in thriller novels, or how a writer describes realizing that they were in love. Example of mood in writing. Take the first description of the titular estate in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights:

  22. Mood Examples in Literature and Writing

    Words such as frightened, panicked and depressed are commonly used to describe people's moods during this time. Moods Found in Literature In literature, mood is the feeling created in the reader. This feeling is the result of both the tone and atmosphere of the story.

  23. What Is Tone and How to Use It in Creative Writing

    When readers say a piece is whimsical, sentimental, critical, or vindictive, they are referring to the author's and characters' attitudes. They are talking about the tone of your piece. Just like tone of voice, your writing's tone impacts your story's meaning.

  24. 10 Types of Creative Writing (with Examples You'll Love)

    A lot falls under the term 'creative writing': poetry, short fiction, plays, novels, personal essays, and songs, to name just a few. By virtue of the creativity that characterizes it, creative writing is an extremely versatile art. So instead of defining what creative writing is, it may be easier to understand what it does by looking at ...

  25. Creating Mood In A Scene Using Light and Shadow

    Becca and I have a love affair with powerful description, the kind that does so much more than paints a picture for readers.Creating Mood is only one of ways setting can make your scenes rich and more meaningful.. If you'd like to find out how to also use it to characterize the story's cast, reveal critical backstory naturally and effectively, steer the plot, reinforce emotion, provide ...

  26. 154 Mood Words: Understanding Their Power and Impact

    Mood words are used to create an atmosphere that immerses the reader in the story. Words like "dark," "ominous," and "foreboding" can create a sense of danger or suspense, while "bright," "sunny," and "joyful" can create a lighthearted and happy atmosphere. The use of color is also crucial in creating a mood.