While more components re editing fiction could certainly be covered, I’m going to tuck away the teacher’s cap for a wee while. Here’s one last [short and hopefully sweet] post: mood.
mood = attitude = disposition = state/frame of mind
Mood doesn’t relate solely to people, but also to literature (as well as other arts). It establishes the general emotion of a story: every scene has its own specific feel and each one can certainly be different.
Depending on the storyline, to create friction and suspense, have various junctures where mood swings in one direction and then the other. But don’t make those swings willy-nilly or you may have readers going “huh?” as they briskly scratch their heads. Bear in mind: mood changes have to be logical and occur for a reason.
Mood, either positive or negative, can be used to describe someone’s emotions, how he/she feels. It can also depict ambiance—of many people (group, team, organization), places and locations, and historical times and settings.
Many people: Utilize mood to reveal how a group or crowd of people “feel”. If a tense and angry political protest is occurring, the atmosphere might be depicted as anxious, fearful, or contentious (among other things). Remember that phrase “mass hysteria”? It could truly be “mass [anything]”, depending on what’s transpiring.
Places and locations: Depending on the place and location, mood could be anything from serene and calming to frightening and upsetting. A July 4th picnic in the park might prove pleasurable and relaxing while a coastline being hit with a Category 3 hurricane could be terrifying and traumatic. Provide strong and clear imagery to paint an intense, graphic picture for readers so they receive a strong (powerful) sense and feel for all that’s taking placing.
Historical times and settings: When you’re writing in a particular period, detail the temperament and attitude of people given the incidents, norms and philosophies of the times. Anyone living in Europe during WWII, for example, would likely be apprehensive, worried, fretful, and fearful. Potential world domination by a crazed zealot, never mind resulting atrocities, would certainly horrify and panic people. The mood: somber and grim.
Because descriptions and words will create moods/ambiances, use both consciously. Smells and sounds and visuals enhance all components (such as characters, dialog, and scenes), so utilize them appropriately. Paint. Create. Show.
Mood is also a feeling in readers; it’s what a reader experiences or perceives. It’s how you, as the writer, present the plot/storyline. You establish a tone, which is the attitude of the narrator or POV character toward actions and events, and other characters—a-ha (!), another [future] post—and that tone, in turn, evokes mood.
Moods are countless. You probably don’t need a list, but here are several that might serve as food for thought:
♦ happy ♦ optimistic ♦ funny / witty ♦ idealistic ♦ tranquil ♦ resigned ♦ downcast ♦ delighted ♦ appreciative ♦ amorous ♦ excited ♦ relaxed ♦ sad ♦ dark ♦ inexplicable ♦ chaotic / frenetic ♦ gloomy ♦ pessimistic ♦ agitated ♦ bizarre ♦ bitter ♦ sour ♦ resentful ♦ cynical ♦ sulky.
When editing, ensure moods are clear, suitable for the circumstances and characters, and serve the purpose for which you intended.
À bientôt, mes amis.