Every novel projects the opinions of its author while creating a certain atmosphere for readers. These elements are known as the story tone and mood. While both reinforce the main story theme, they are two different things. Their interrelated nature can make telling them apart confusing, but it’s not difficult once you understand them.
Knowing how to use story tone and mood is an important skill that contributes to a mastery of plot structure.
Story Tone and Mood Definition
Think of story tone and mood as an exchange between the writer and reader. The writer imparts an opinion of the theme in a particular tone of voice, creating a story mood that draws a response from the reader.
Story Tone is About the Author
Your story theme is the topic of your novel. The story tone is what you have to say about that topic. You express your opinion, based on your worldview, through word choice, usage, point of view, setting, characterizations, plot points, and multiple details presented in the course of telling the story.
Don’t be afraid to give your opinion and worldview. Not everyone will agree with you, but at least you will have made your point. made your voice heard what you have to say. If you’re worried about turning readers away, remember that controversy tends to increase audience size. Trying to placate everyone is the surest way to please no one.
When writing Hills of Nevermore, the first installment in my new western historical romance series, I created the character of Shane Hayes, a preacher determined not to fight. Living in the Wild West had a way of putting Shane in conflict with his own values. While reaching a resolution to this problem that Shane could live with, I expressed my own views on using violence for self-defense. Since my book is billed at inspirational fiction, I worried that my publisher might balk or that reviewers would bash me. So far, the opposite has happened.
Most people accept that writers are entitled to their opinions. I can say as a reader that I don’t expect every novel to align with my unique worldview. If I vehemently disagree, I’ll stop reading, but most of the time when the story is compelling, I overlook different opinions. Sometimes I even learn from them. Fiction has the power to change minds.
Story Mood is About the Reader
Readers love novels for the way they make them feel. Sharpen your writing tools and techniques to create an atmosphere that supports your theme, and you’ll pave the way for them to enter your storyworld.
Final Thoughts from Janalyn
Write about a topic that sparks your own passion, and your zeal will carry your readers. Marry your passion with a mastery of the writing craft, and you’ll create a treasure of a story. Next week we’ll go into more detail on how to set a winning story tone based on your theme. Subscribe to Live Write Breathe if you haven’t already to receive notification when the next post publishes.