1. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    How important is Mood and Tone?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by nastyjman, Jun 10, 2011.

    I'm currently in a workshop where they emphasize on three writing concepts, two of which are Mood and Tone.

    For those who are unsure of the terms, here they are:

    Mood: The primary emotional response the author wants to evoke in the reader.

    Tone: Style or manner or expression in writing. The sound of the language.
     
  2. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    Very Importante!

    If your tone can't produce the right mood for the scene and overall story, then you've done something wrong and need to fix it. I'd say mood and tone are as important as characters and plot.
     
  3. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    If you illicit the wrong mood from your readers, whatever themes you want to convey to the reader will be interpreted the incorrect way.

    If you use a strange tone, your reader will interpret your characters and their actions in a strange manner.

    However, if you are able to effectively use these two, you will be able to convey your ideas more efficiently.
     
  4. animefans12
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    animefans12 Member

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    It has to be very important! If mood and tone doesn't really matter in a story, then how are the readers suppose to know what's going on and/or what the point of the story is if the characters don't have enough feelings!
     
  5. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    The tone I use depend on the audience I want to reach.

    The mood changes through out. There are love scenes, death and so on that will have different moods.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Very important. The bad thing I've seen in creative writing instruction is when an emphasis is placed on these, as if they're something to be done in a vacuum. Proper mood and tone are results of good writing, not what create good writing. Meaning, if you're properly representing the truth of the moment in any given scene, then the mood and tone will be right. The minute you try to work on the mood or tone, a writer is bound to fail.

    Imagine being a composer and you decide 'okay, this needs more emotion!' Okay, great, but that's only an indicator of how the notes are working, so what you need are actually notes in the piece that lead to more emotion.

    So, I guess this workshop that emphasizes tone and mood is an advanced course that assumes writers have all the tools and building blocks to be able to create that, because it isn't something that's successfully created in a vacuum, but is more an indicator of whether everything else is working.

    Sadly, I've seen a ton of instruction that is big talk, but ends up being self-defining, circular reasoned nonsense. You need better mood, and to do that you write more moodier, and you only know it when you see it and can only figure out how to create mood after you've managed to. What ends up happening is the leader of the instruction sounds like some mystical genius, and meanwhile the students haven't learned a thing except whether their piece did or did not have the proper mood or tone.

    So yeah, mood and tone is very important, but it's more an indicator of whether all the little things in a piece are actually working and isn't exactly it's own think where you can now sit down and work on the mood of a story. Instead, you need to work on stuff like finding the right verbs, maintaining the suspension of disbelief, creating clarity in your prose, building authoritative believable characters and settings, etc. Basically, do all the little things and the mood and tone are right. If it's not right, there's a kink somewhere in the system, and can't be fixed without then digging into that system and finding the problem.

    This is why yes, it's important, but it seems like an odd thing to emphasize in a writing workshop unless it's a highly advanced course or they're only generalized landmarks and the real lessons/aspects being emphasized are the little things that build to these big concepts.

    Out of curiosity, what's the third thing?
     
  7. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Very important. I consider them to be two of the most crucial things in writing and pay more attention to my flow, tone of voice, mood, and style of my story than anything else to be honest. Not that character/plot/story development aren't important - they are - just that I find that I develop my characters to shape around my tone/mood/style of writing than the other way around.

    And as far as the plot/storyline - these are parts that I usually already have figured out before I start writing so it's already developed.

    But tone and flow to me are crucial. Mood is derived from my tone and find it easiest to manipulate though I don't like to manipulate it too much. I dislike books where I feel manipulated or bribed to feel a certain way and so avoid doing that in my work. I let my tone create my mood and prefer the reader to make their own judgments. The story is there and hopefully it's compelling enough to evoke emotion without me having to physically shove it in the readers face.
     
  8. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Narrative persona, the personality of the POV.
     
  9. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Shouldn't that be "muy" rather than "very"~?

    It's incredibly important! Establish the wrong atmosphere and the scene won't be potrayed correctly to the reader. Plus, it is also useful to show how the narrator interprets the scene which therefore gives the reader a better understanding of them.
     
  10. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I think they're very important. Mood and tone are what usually draw me into a story and keep me into it.
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, to a piece of writing I'd say they're important, but a workshop, it's pretty much the worst thing someone could say - a sort of vague waffle about how something isn't moody enough in one way or the other... It's so hard to define exactly how to improve such a thing, without just telling the person you're critiquing how you'd completely re-write their piece.

    I only point it out if the mood or tone is so horribly unsuited to the thing they're writing it has to be pointed out for the sake of humanity - in which case it will probably also be easy enough to give general pointers - like, "Stop using freakin exclamation marks in the narration - this is a funeral scene, not a trip to the mall!" - which should be enough to at least make the badly-written mood inconspicuous enough to focus on other issues which should be addressed first. Usually just telling someone to stop and consider the emotional direction of the scene is enough to make it not a problem. Maybe not brilliant, but at least they're trying... The same cut and paste sentence can be used for most of the stories I review to cover mood and tone in that case.

    The only other times I'd bring it up in a workshop is in the creative writing classes I did the last couple of years at university. Instead of an online writing workshop forum like this one or the one I admin, where there is buckets of time for the author to improve at their own pace, with practice and reading and some gentle nudges, we've got a couple of months to not fail a course. In which case I'm a lot harsher and more in-depth. In that case I found it a lot harder, again, because it was the all-encompassing thing for the story, and I was as guilty as the others of waving my hand in a waffly way and saying, "I dunno, it doesn't really seem scary enough... Try using darker language in the section where they're going up the stairs..." Heeelpful. :p
     
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