Setting the Mood

Setting the Mood

Setting the Mood 

ambiance: n. The special atmosphere or mood created by a particular environment.

When writing fiction, every scene, every interaction between characters, every descriptive paragraph needs to portray a certain ambiance. In order to write these things effectively, we have to be able to “feel” the mood, don’t you think? So, let’s explore some of the ways we can do this.

Of course, the best of all worlds is to be in the actual place or setting about which you are writing. Sitting on the shore listening to the breakers, the gentle swish of waves ebbing and flowing, the tangy salt-fish taste of the air. Or the beat of angry waves crashing against the rocks and cliffs during a storm. Or you’re out in the country, enjoying the one-of-a-kind scent of freshly-mown hay, the hum of bees buzzing the dandelions and clover, and then, as disk settles, the opening strains of the happy cricket and croaking bull-frog symphony.

Of course, these are sounds most of us have heard at one time or another in our lives and it’s probably not too hard to imagine you can hear them. Some are fortunate enough to hear them every day. But what if you can’t quite capture what you’re reaching for? What do you do?

Well, there are recordings of these sounds, mostly made for relaxation and therapeutic purposes. But why couldn’t’ they be used as background ‘mood-setting’ writer’s helps?

Okay, let’s try something else. You’re writing a romantic scene, say, your heroine is cooking dinner for our hero. She’s got everything all ready in the kitchen and has a perfectly beautiful table set in the dining room, complete with sparkling crystal and candles, soft romantic music playing in the background. Now, that’s a visual we can all see just as I’ve written it. But why not really get into the proper mood and set that scene up in your own home. Special meal, lovely table setting, soft music. Light the candles, dim the lights and sit down across from your special guy (or gal, guys do things like this too) and feel it. Then go write it down just as you experienced it.

There are other ways to get the mood or ambiance you want or need. I write to music some of the time. Mostly instrumental because vocals distract me. Even the instrumentals tend to pull me away, too, because I hum along! However, the right music can be a great help when you’re writing. Certain types of music lend themselves to specific scenes and can influence the way you write. I like the ‘oldies”—songs from the 40’s and the old big band standards. Classical music is another great background choice. That’s a matter of personal taste, of course. One of my all-time favorite ‘mood music’ pieces is “Sleepwalk” by Santo and Johnny. Gentle, flowing, soft, haunting — beautiful.

Another good ‘mood setter’ are scented candles or incense. There are so many fragrances available now, from Sandalwood to Apples and everything in-between. You can easily invoke a scene in a garden or conservatory with the scents of roses, lavender, white peony, lilac, hyacinth, hydrangea…lovely. Or you can find yourself in an exotic place with sandalwood or ylang-ylang. And to light a vanilla, spiced apple, lemon-honey candle takes one immediately back to the kitchen or grandma’s house of long ago.

There are so many ways to create the mood by using the things you have around you every day and you don’t have to leave your home. Hope I’ve given you some ideas.

Why not share your thoughts here, too?


Peg Phifer About Peg Phifer

Multi-published author Peggy Blann Phifer writes a mixture of contemporary women’s fiction with three parts suspense, three parts mystery, and four parts romance, stirred up with a sprinkling of humor. Peg believes God has a sense of humor and that He intended to place laughter into our lives no matter our circumstances. Read more on her website.

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