Mood words are words and phrases that are used to describe the mood of characters, situations, and settings. These mood words are necessary because you can’t see things like body language and facial expression when reading. You can’t hear tone in dialogue.
The mood is established through word choice and specific language in the content of the writing. This article will discuss and demonstrate how writers can describe the mood in their fiction so that it is easily conveyed to the reader.
Mood Words and Mood Examples
The mood is conveyed to the reader by the language used in the text. While most books have shifting moods due to their plot, the overall mood is established, and as the mood changes, the language does, as well. The following examples convey the mood and feelings of both characters, situations, and settings in literature. They shape reader experiences with the story, as the language often pushes the reader to feel the same thing being described as the mood in the scenes.
A cheerful mood can be conveyed with happy and lighthearted language. For example, much of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is written in a cheerful mood. The language used in the text tells us how in awe of the magical world and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry the main character is. Children smile, giggle, and laugh. Harry Potter is often said to be in disbelief at how wonderful everything in this new world is. It’s a world of new possibilities for a child who, up until that point, had led a fairly miserable life.
A romantic mood is established by using language that establishes a connection between two people. Language such as “their eyes immediately met” and “the spark between them when their hands touched was undeniable.” This type of language includes butterflies felt in the stomach, confusion, and forgetfulness in the presence of someone new and wonderful, a sense of emotion that exudes a calm and peaceful setting when the two characters are in a scene together. We see this often in poems and love songs.
Whimsy is conveyed in text with nonsense language, lighthearted language, vivid colors and imagery, and unbelievable actions and dialogue from unlikely characters. For example, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the protagonist, Alice, encounters a very large caterpillar. He is sitting on a huge mushroom, with many pairs of his arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah. He takes not the smallest notice of the child who discovers him and instead carries on with his activity.
Due to the fact that is not the behavior you would ever expect from a caterpillar of any size, the mood created is one of lighthearted whimsy. Alice doesn’t know exactly what to do when she sees this creature, and the author’s attitude in writing and the language seems to imply that this smoking bug is in a bad mood. He is immediately dismissive of Alice once he notices her presence, basically telling her to get lost.
Emotions in a Story
When the author feels that emotions should be conveyed in a story, he or she changes the tone by using descriptive and emotional language.
For example, if a character is experiencing one of the negative emotions, such as fear, the author might use words and phrases such as: trembled, gasped, screamed, whispered, froze, ran, hid. The text might convey that the character had to conquer this negative emotion by trying to calm down, taking deep breaths, repeating a mantra to himself, saying a quick prayer, or counting to himself until the fear subsided. The tone of the writing and the actions gives us an idea of the emotion and mood being expressed.
Melancholy, a favorite emotion of Poe, expressed this well in his writing by creating an atmosphere in which the readers had no choice but to feel the sadness he felt. In Annabel Lee by Poe, the tone is dark and incredibly melancholy. The atmosphere is heavy; the setting is lonely. Poe was able to create almost a vacuum effect in this poem, making the readers feel like the happiness and air have been sucked out of the world with the passing of Annabel Lee.
Authors create positive emotions using the same methods as when they are setting negative ones. Examples of this show up in all humorous works of fiction and nonfiction alike. Humor is offset by mentioning things like glee, laughing, being “tickled,” giggling, smiling, etc.
Joy is another positive feeling that is typically set up in the setting to create a happy atmosphere. For example, going back to Harry Potter, Rowling describes joy on the very first train ride to Hogwarts. Harry meets the characters who will turn out to be his best friends, Hermione and Ron. They experience magical candies together, talk about their families, and explain the world of magic to Potter.
Not only do the happy and cheerful words that are used in that scene on the train convey the positive mood of the story, but the stark contrast from the madness and gloom that was the Dursley’s home, where Potter had lived in a small space beneath the stairs, paints such a totally different picture that we have no choice as readers but to feel that difference, and experience that exuberance with him.
Genre and Mood
Genre often gives the person reading the book a hint as to what the mood of the story will be. Suspense novels have suspenseful language. There are many pregnant pauses between both speech and action. There are cliffhangers, there are mysteries, and there are mistakes made by characters, all to make the reading more suspenseful.
The style of writing lends emotion, mood, and tone to the work. Genre helps us to figure all of those things out before we even open the front cover. Going back to Harry Potter, the writing style tells us that we start out the story with a depressed boy who lives a sad life. He doesn’t want special treatment. He just wants a peaceful existence. The reader knows that magic will be involved at some point simply because of the genre and the book’s cover art; we just don’t know when that switch will take place.
Look For Mood Examples in Your Favorite Books
When you reflect upon your favorite book, think about the writing style and whether the language in it helps set the mood. Ask yourself if the person who wrote the book set you up, as the audience, to be curious about how the mood would influence the plot or your feelings towards the characters. All of this is done with clever wording, descriptive language, and tone.
The world of wonder that we go to with Alice is at times gloomy, and we find that she is confused and afraid. We wouldn’t understand that if it weren’t for the mood words used by the author. If the author hadn’t put silly adventures, silly speech, and play into the actions and setting, we would have been even more confused.
The author wants to make the mood evident to the reader so that the focus and the mood of the fiction are understood. The word choice to describe mood, the mood words used, and the tone of the fiction all steer the audience in the right direction.
Words to Describe Setting
It is important to note that the description of the setting often affects the mood of a literary piece. When writing about the setting, you need to pick the adjectives that let the reader visualize what residing in that place and time feels like, such as living with comfort or discomfort, tranquility or chaos, enlightenment or confusion, or existing in old, present, or future timelines. No matter what feelings you want the reader to feel, the right choice of descriptors would help you achieve this.
Below are some words that you can consider or get ideas from to describe the setting of your story:
Words to Describe Attitude
Adequate characterization also boosts the mood of a literary work. In making your writing an action packed or a heartfelt piece, you need words that clearly illustrate the characters’ attitudes. These words articulate how the characters reflect, feel, and act.
Below are some words that you may use to describe a character’s attitude: