Mood definition: Mood—also known as atmosphere—is the overall feeling for the audience an author creates in his writing.
What is Mood / What is the Mood of a Story?
What does mood mean? Mood—also known as atmosphere—is the overall feeling for the audience an author creates in his writing. When you read a text and you have a particular feeling that you associate with the descriptive language, you are experiencing the mood of a story.
An author will create mood through language. He does not tell the reader what to think but rather utilizes the elements of writing to create a particular and specific feeling for the reader.
Mood is described with adjectives—dark, warm, foreboding, peaceful. Mood is developed through setting, tone, and diction.
How to Create Mood in a Story
Creating Mood Through Setting:
A particular setting will help an author to create a particular mood. For example, an uninhabited, dilapidated house in an empty forest might be one setting. An author is going to use descriptive and sensory language to create that setting. The way that the audience feels as a result of that setting is mood.
Creating Mood Through Tone:
Tone can also help an author create mood. If an author writes using a distant and withdrawn tone, his audience will feel a certain way—perhaps cold and neglected. On the other hand, if an author writes in a witty tone, he might create a jovial and lighthearted mood.
Creating Mood Through Diction:
Diction is perhaps the key player to creating mood. Each word an author selects should further communicate the mood he wants to create. This involves any narration or dialogue, as well.
For example, it would be very strange for the author trying to create a dreary mood to have an exclamation of excitement in his dialogue. Each word choice should reinforce the mood the author wants to achieve.
The Purpose of Mood
Why use mood? Have you ever had a particular feeling when reading a certain book? Surely you can remember that one book that made you feel connected or understood. Or perhaps you recall a thriller that had you wrapped you in its spell, anxious to see if your protagonist would make it out alive?
This is all due to mood. An author wants his reader to feel a certain way when he reads his text. In fact, mood is probably why we continue (or cease) to read a certain text. We either like the feeling the words give us, or we don’t.
Writers should create mood to match their intention. If the mood does not match the message, a reader will lose interest.
Examples of Mood in Literature
What is mood in literature? William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, creates a particular mood from the opening scene.
The opening scene occurs as the watchmen are changing guard. Their discussion is about a ghost they saw the previous night. And, just as they are discussing, the ghost itself appears.
Here, Shakespeare utilizes diction, setting, and tone to create an ominous mood. He appropriately sets the stage for his tragedy, providing relevant background information, including the ghost of the murdered king, pulling in his audience and inciting fear and mystery.
Summary: Mood Literary Definition
Define mood in literature: The definition of mood in literature is the overall feeling and author creates for his audience.
Mood is the atmosphere the text creates. In a way, it’s all of the “unsaid” elements that create a feeling the text provides for the audience. Mood is essential to engage readers.