Writer Guy’s Tip #5: Tone and Mood

In the earlier posts, we have completed our discussion on the four primary components of fiction writing, namely Setting, Plot, Narrative, and Characters.

Now, we take a look at the components do not necessarily need to be addressed, in order to actually write a book, but can differentiate between an ordinary one and a good one.

Therefore, I would advise you to start writing only after you have read this post.

So, to summarise, you should, at this stage-

  1. Have a rough idea of the plot.
  2. Have created the primary characters, and preferably even some secondary ones, of your story.
  3. Have a fair idea of the setting of your world.
  4. Have considered the possibilities regarding your plot structure and style of narrative.
  5. Have not written too much, already, or are willing to rewrite.

In this post, we talk about two components of fiction writing that, more often than not, go together, Tone and Mood.


Basically, tone refers to how the writer expresses himself, with respect to the subject matter.

The tone of a narrative is conveyed by the diction, syntax, and imagery used, and depends largely on the narrative voice.

Often, the tone may vary between, or within, segments of the narrative. However, this variation should be justified, in order to seem smooth and rational.

For example, throughout Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the tone of the narrative remains informal and somewhat goofy.

In contrast, the tone of the narrator in Darkly Dreaming Dexter varies as the titular character’s confidence in himself is affected by certain events in the plot.

So basically, in all narratives in character voice, the variation in a dynamic character will be mirrored in the tone of the narrative.


Mood is basically the emotional atmosphere created around the reader. This is one of the most passive of all components, being the cumulative result of multiple other aspects, and cannot be controlled directly by the writer.

The overall mood conveyed at any moment in the story is, in my opinion, not absolute, and may be dependant on the reader, and his past experiences and current preferences.

Of course, the mood may be created directly through the plot itself. For instance, if a major character suddenly dies in the middle of the story, then the mood for the subsequent chapters is quite likely to be sombre.

The mood may be partly conveyed through the setting itself, as certain locations can imbue certain feelings in the reader.

For example, the description of the moors in Wuthering Heights conveys a sense of wildness and solitude to the reader, which is in turn mirrored by Heathcliff’s character.

These feelings may, in turn, be either reinforced or contrasted by the tone used, or any other component, depending on the author’s intent. Using this one point smartly can, by itself, improve the quality of your manuscript twofold.

If, for example, Julius Caesar were to be retold from Cassius’ point of view, the tone of his narrative during Caesar’s funeral would be in stark contrast with the mood created by the setting and the plot, and later by Mark Anthony’s speech. This would also be an example where the resultant, cumulative mood would depend largely on the reader.

And honestly speaking, someone should write The Tragedy of Cassius. I, for one, would love to read it.

Now, that was not too complex, was it? As you’d agree, having this discussion is helpful, but perhaps not entirely necessary.

And, I believe congratulations are in order! Having read these five tips, you are now ready to start writing your own work of fiction.

In the next few tips, we will talk about the other minor components of fiction writing, before we begin discussing the actual techniques you could use.

These are really feeling more like tutorials than tips.

Well, anyway, if you feel the need to discuss anything in particular, please feel free to contact us.

So that is all for tonight.

Thank you.

Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

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