1. Magnatolia

    Magnatolia Active Member

    Jan 11, 2014
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    Creating atmosphere?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Magnatolia, Apr 7, 2014.

    Hi guys,

    Can anyone point me in the right direction for some books or learning material on creating atmosphere? I'm writing horror, so trying to work that into it.

    Here's an example of what I have:

    I think it's well-written in a descriptive, visual sense but it doesn't feel like it has atmosphere. Any thoughts?

  2. Thomas Kitchen

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

    Nov 5, 2012
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    I'm Welsh - and proud!
    I can't point to any books, I'm afraid, but I can say that you should obviously read as many books as you can - particularly crime, thriller, and horror, in your case.

    I've read your paragraph, and I think what you haven't quite grasped yet is putting the reader in the scene, which creates a huge amount of atmosphere in itself. As you say, there's nothing wrong with what you've written, but the reader isn't there. For example:

    You wrote "The front door had scratches running up and down its length, and the door handle was covered in a sticky red substance."

    Instead, try something like "Scratches ran up and down the front door's length, with a sticky red substance covering the door handle."

    Can you see the difference? In my opinion, I believe the second example is better, and obviously not because it was my rewriting. Using more "present" words can help the reader feel like they're there, and I'm sure this alone would affect your writing greatly, and it would certainly improve. Obviously you shouldn't use "present" words the whole way through your work, because that would be boring and tiresome on the eyes, so switch things up. Hopefully you understand what I mean.

    Also, remember to use all the senses for a horror story. Granted this is only a small extract, but consider what smells there are, what the characters can feel, what they can hear, and what they can taste - as well as the visual. Visual is obviously very important (depending on the horror story), but again, using all senses will transport your reader into that world, which is of course what you want.

    Keep 'em up at night! ;)
    Magnatolia, AlannaHart and peachalulu like this.
  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I wrote about Mood in an article on here if you'd like to read it - https://www.writingforums.org/articles/establishing-mood-in-your-writing/

    Atmosphere from what I've noticed ( not an authority here just an opinion ), is a way of setting a mood. It's not just the details of a scene it's details linking to characters, triggering emotions. A bank is a bank on an ordinary day but take the same set and now fill it with bank robbers. The atmosphere has changed, the teller who probably never thought much of the bullet proof glass is fogging it up hoping to God it really is bullet proof.

    Don't go for random details go for most significant, most interesting - something your character would notice ( not take in as in a general sweep. ) Having just watched The Walking Dead - the camera makes a general sweep when the characters walk into the house but the character's notice specific things like curious art work and suspiciously clean floors and family photos.
    Magnatolia likes this.
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    the best way to learn how is by reading/studying the works of the best novelists... not how-tos...

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