Friday, December 19, 2008

Let it Snow — Setting a Mood

All the lights are turned off, except one, the electronics are powered down, except the PC, and the snow is falling, mostly silent, as the day draws to a close. I had hoped to get to writing this morning, but the time was taken up by much needed physical exercise and a paying job. Now the house is quiet, the snow is blanketing the row of hemlock and there is a mood, created by the setting, the scene.

In most popular fiction, weather is passé, but it certainly does set a mood. So does quiet. Amid the comparative silence, words flow largely unhindered as the wind swirls the snow into clouds that whisk by and are gone. It's a snow globe world out there. Can't you see it in your mind's eye from the written page?

Setting a scene, providing a sense of place, isn't filler, or shouldn’t be. It sets a tone, a mood, an emotion that can match the action, if harmony is what you're looking to create, or provide contrast, if you're looking to heighten tension. Haven't we all had those days where the weather matched our mood, for example, snow falling and contemplation. And days where we weren't in synch with the atmosphere, setting or place all, and the result was an agitated state, discomfort, anxiety.

Weather is still a great tool, when used properly and in the right amount. It can foreshadow an event or obscure a motive, reveal what would otherwise be hidden, as the sun across the surface of a bay, or confuse. Whatever the use, weather is a wonderful worker of mood, story and tone. Its elemental quality can ground a piece or even just a moment in time.

See the writing tip below.

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