Description creates mood

A post at Kill Zone Blog: Description Creates a Mood

So it does! That’s not ONLY what this post is talking about. This post is also talking about how description AND mood create characterization, like so:

The fearful character might interpret their environment like this…

The moon refused to brighten the path, the forest dark, ominous. Trees loomed, froze. Leaves quaked. Stars cowered in the haze. Each footstep that neared — deliberate, slow, methodical — crunched dead flora. Sweet pine soured by the raw stench of death. Blood crawled across my tongue, vomit lurching in my throat.

Same setting filtered through a joyful character’s perspective…

The moon’s golden smolder caressed the hiking trail below the deck, the forest content and celebrating the reunion of nocturnal friends. Paws pattering, wings breathing new life into the evening hours, the sweetness of pine kissing soft fur and feathers as they flitted by. Strawberry wine slipped across my palate as I basked under the umbrella of stars in the night sky.

The “nocturnal friends” thing did make me wince a little. Could be both examples are just a trifle extreme. Nevertheless, yes, description is filtered through the character and that’s important.

This post was written by Sue Coletta, who won me over by emphasizing not just word choices, but sentence structure:

For the fearful character, I used punchy verbs (loomed, quaked, cowered, soured, crawled, lurched), staccato sentences, and offset longer sentences with em dashes to maintain the pace. The only gerund varied the sentence structure and rhythm. I also juxtaposed — sweet pine soured by the raw stench of death — but we’ll get to that after.

With the joyful character, I used softer verbs (caressed, celebrating, pattering, breathing, kissing, flitted) longer sentences, and gerunds to create a relaxing pace.

Good post, even though I do think both examples are more extreme than anything you’d probably want in a real book. If you click through, the post also includes a looong list of onomatopoeic words.

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1 thought on “Description creates mood”

  1. The OP has excellent points, but I think she could have done better with the examples. If I have to be told, and STILL can’t see that it’s the same scene being described through a different person, it’s a failure. (for example purposes, anyway.)
    Even just adding the to the second/joyful one something like: The moon’s golden light lit the haze in veils… would have been a clue as it picks up the haze from the first one.

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