How To Create The Right Atmosphere In Your Story

By on November 25, 2019

Setting the right atmosphere for each of the different scenes in your story is crucial if you hope to engage your readers in the right way. However, it’s not always that easy. You might wish to evoke a certain mood, but it’s through a combination of several different parts of crafting the story that this will happen most effectively. A writer must pay attention to the setting, the pacing, the language, and the dialogue and use all of these elements to create the right mood. 

If you are writing a novel, you are likely to want to create several different moods throughout the story, which will change as the plot unfolds. Even if your book, by definition, is a tense thriller, or even a horror story, without lighter, easier passages, it will be challenging to increase tension and unease effectively. The relentlessness of a single atmosphere throughout with no relief could be hard going for any reader.

So what are the things you can do to strengthen the atmospheric quality of your stories?

Work on your setting

Your setting is a fantastic place to start when it comes to evoking a particular mood. You can use the weather, the colors, the objects a character observes, how crowded or isolated the place is, the noises, the smells, and so on to create a particular mood. The location could be bleak and lonely, or bright and full of laughter, or crowded and intense, and so on. The setting and the way your character reacts to their surrounds will create a particular mood. 

Pay attention to your language

You can include specific words to help build a particular atmosphere. Your word choice can be beneficial; for example, a character ambling creates a different sense of atmosphere to one who is tiptoeing. You could create a list of words that help to give off a particular mood. If you are trying to create a sense that a house is creepy, words such as creaking, thumping, moaning, cackling, whistling, humming, and so on are good choices. Work out the mood that you are hoping to convey and then make a list before you start to write those passages to help you.

Use dialogue and character reaction cleverly

Exchanges between characters and the way they react to what’s being said, as well as the situation they find themselves in is another great way to strengthen the atmosphere in a story. Conversations between characters can be fraught with tension, can be angry, full of hurt, love, laughter, and so on. Use your dialogue carefully to help convey to the reader the atmosphere in any particular scene. The way that characters act and react around one another and in their surrounds can also help to demonstrate a specific mood. In a bustling party, one character may feel energetic and excited; another may feel anxious and claustrophobic, and how you choose to describe their reaction will help build a particular mood and build anticipation for what might happen next.

Check your pacing

Pacing is crucial when it comes to the atmosphere. If a scene is particularly tense or suspenseful, action tends to unfold more quickly, and the use of shorter sentences will support this. Try to consider how complex your sentence construction could be when trying to give a particular sense of something - this can affect your pacing too.

If you are trying to get the mood right in your novel, the above tips can help ensure that you do so successfully. Do you have any suggestions or techniques for setting the right atmosphere in your stories? Share them with us here!

bethany cadman
Bethany Cadman - bethanycadman.co.uk

About Bethany Cadman

Bethany Cadman is an author and freelance writer. Her highly anticipated debut novel 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers' is available on Amazon as both an eBook and a paperback. You can find it here - http://tinyurl.com/z47t8qf

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