I’ve been very cranky the last few days. Absolutely, downright peeved. Ever get like that? Like you’re not fit to be in the company of humans? Yeeeahhh…that’s been me—I haven’t wanted to do ANYTHING. I’ve sat, staring at my computer, at all the work I need to do—worse, at all the things I want to do…and yet, I can’t seem to do more than sigh melodramatically. No work, no play—just staring, feeling snarly.
I need a cat, I think. Cats are generally cranky, so we’d totally get one another, maybe.
See? It’s like me in cat form.
Anyway, you can imagine why I haven’t been in the best of moods to blog lately. I was afraid you’d end up with some foul-mouthed tribute to Marilyn Manson and lame jokes about Massachusetts. Or maybe you’d get a teary farewell vlog to Conan. *El Sighito.
But then, my rockin’ CP, Alexandra Shostak sent me something entirely way too cool, which seriously brightened my spirits: a “fake” (but friggin awesome) cover for my first completed novel, AETERNUS. Oh my word, check it out:
OMG!! BEST. GIFT. EVER!!!!!!!! I luvs you, Alexandra!! Thank you so much for this uber special gift. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m beyond thrilled, and I will treasure it always. It’s 100% the shiznit.
So, now that I’m feeling much more chipper, thanks to my amazing critique partner (and to my other brilliant CP, Sara McClung, who always makes me happy as well), I feel far more able to blog about awards I’ve received lately.
+The Picasso Award was given to me by the ever supportive, ultra talented Sara McClung.
Now, Sara, who I nicknamed Awesomer ages ago because she’s so dang awesome actually passed this award on to me 22 December—yeah, I know, I deserve a bit of a flogging for taking so long to blog about it. But I am ever so grateful to Sara and to the award she passed on to me. Now, the receipt of this award requires me to first list seven things about myself, but I won’t torture you with that here. If you’re interested, feel free to check out my last post with eleven things about me…. Second, I need to pass this award on to seven other blogs, so here you go. Clickety click on these marvelous blogs:
+The next award was given to me by the lovely, super sweet Shannon Messenger. Thank you, Shannon for your kindness (and for being so very entertaining pretty much all the time)! My apologies for taking so long to blog about this!
I believe this one requires me to pass it on to five uplifting blogs, so here you go, five blogs I find pretty darn silver liningey (though these are only five of many, by the way):
+And yet a third award (man, I’ve never felt so popular!) was bestowed upon me by the admirable and ever so generous Corra McFeydon. Thank you, dear Corra, for thinking of me, for commenting on my silly blog posts, and for being so supportive.
This lovely award had no expectations or instructions attached, so I think I will pass it on to my CP’s that are two very fine writers with amazing blogs. So, here’s to you, my lovelies:
and to two other blogs that provide us regularly with brilliant fiction:
And finally, I was given this Happy Blog award by five people for whom I have the deepest respect and admiration: Diana Paz, Southern Princess (Courtney), Heather (See Heather Write), Melissa (Chasing the Dream), and Christine Danek. Yes, I’m totally lame for waiting so long to post this award.
To accept this beeeeeeautiful award, in addition to passing it on to ten other happy blogs, I’m supposed to identify ten things that make me happy.
And since I’m in a rather slap-happy mood now, I’m capable of thinking about upbeat things. So, I will write my happiness list, but I want it to be special. And I don’t want just a list. Maybe a vlog??? (Oooooo!) I’ll think on it and get back to you. Maybe you’ll be shocked to discover what makes me all giddy like a school chick. Or not.
Anyway….this whole moody business has me thinking a lot about the process of creating mood/atmosphere in your writing. And because this is—ultimately—a blog about my writing journey, I thought I’d share with you some thoughts on the matter. Yeah, I know…writing lessons=boring. And since I’m not generally a boring person, I will tell you something not boring….
Setting the Mood….
If that one is a bit ancient for you, try this one:
On Writing:The mood in your story is EVERYTHING. The mood pretty much encompasses all that is good (or bad) about your writing. It sums up your characters, the setting (obviously), the language, the voice, the plot, the conflict and ___(insert every buzz word about writing)___. What does this mean? If there is no discernible mood in a scene, then you have FAILED.
Dude, I am soooo dramatic. Okay, so maybe not “failed” in all caps. Maybe it’s more like, “Hon, you’ve got some work to do here.” The fact is, when you read a scene, you should get a strong sense of mood—the picture should feel clear to you. So, think of it as a scene in a movie—in particular, think of just about any scene from a well-done horror film. What happens in those scenes to scare the living tar out of you? You get dim lighting, shadows, creepy music, scared whispers, scritchy-scratchy sounds, gravel crunching, and for some reason, a bizarre amount of eyeball close-ups. All of these things add to the feel of the film--they suck you in. But what happens if you take that “Dunnnnn dun” creepy music out of Jaws? You get a big mechanical fish in water.
But how do you accomplish mood in writing? Why, with your language, of course. Seems easy enough, but it’s actually harder to do than you’d imagine. If you’re writing a story about a goth, introverted teenager lost in the conformity hell that is high school, you can’t write things like
Annalise walked down the hall, thinking about how much she didn’t like this school.
Ugh. Horrible, right? Totally generic. Doesn’t tell us much. Okay, try this one:
Annalise tread down the brightly lit halls of her new high school, feeling a bit like an outsider.
Eh…better, but it doesn’t set the right mood. “Brightly” implies happy, for starters—even if the halls are bright. And overall, it’s still kind of sloppy. Let’s give it another go:
A defeated Annalise trudged through the overly bright corridors of her new high school, shuddering as she passed through the thick mass of Abercrombie and Fitch hell.
That’s a seriously long sentence, but you get my drift. You have to set the mood with carefully chosen verbs and modifiers, and even nouns (notice the change from “halls” to corridors” which feels sort of dungeon-like, doesn’t it?) You also need to be careful with setting. Notice that even though I set Annalise in a brightly lit hall, the use of the adverb (gasp!) “overly” gives us a sense of Annalise’s mood, so that in this instance, the contradictory setting actually helps to intensify the dark mood of the scene. And of course, the fun addition of “hell” after the oh-so-popular Abercrombie & Fitch reveals much about Annalise’s attitude towards the conformist students, while creating an atmosphere of a very dark place where bad things happen. And guess what? You also got a taste of the conflict, right? Annalise is so gonna have to deal with those A&F wannabes.
OMG, I totally got boring for a second there. Forgive me. Anyway, these are just some minor thoughts. Maybe I’ll write again on the subject. When the mood strikes.
So…what do you do to set the mood? Got any really good mood-revealing sentences? I’m very curious…Dunnnnn dun.
Just a quick note to say that our
Cosmic Coincidence flash fiction contest ends on January 31—that’s only six days, people!!!
Simon Larter and I are hoping to see your short story in our inbox soon (carolsimoncontest AT gmail Dot com). For a refresher, check out the rules at Simon's blog and the prizes at my blog. Please do consider entering. Think about what a great opportunity this will be—not only can you win fab critiques and books, but you have the chance to showcase your skills with a really cool writing prompt. If you’re one of the winners, we’ll also feature your story on both our blogs with all the reasons why your story (and you, by default) are amazing. And it is now within your power to boost my self-confidence (or crush it entirely).