Tone, Mood, & Style—The Feel of Fiction

While both mood and tone can change over the course of story, tone is the more consistent element. Since it’s the attitude of the narrator, tone won’t change as often as mood can.

A list of moods (atmosphere)

Alarming

Brooding

Buoyant

Comical

Confining

Cool

Dark

Fantastical

Hopeful

Light

Melancholy

Ominous

Oppressive

Relaxed

Sexy

Spooky

Suspenseful

Warm

____________________________

Style
Style is the third element used for creating or changing the feel of a story or scene, though it’s a bit different from tone and mood because it’s used to affect and create the other two elements.

Style as we’re defining it here is the way the writer uses words to create not only the events of story, but their feel as well. A writer’s style is evident in his use of diction—word choices—and syntax—word order and sentence construction. A style is the writer’s method to create mood and tone, the feel of fiction. Style is also dependent on subject matter, what a write might explore and what he’d never write about. For example, one writer might never feature a pedophile in a story, another might write one as a heinous monster, and yet another might write one as a tortured soul.

One writer might feature children in his works, another cowboys, and another serial killers or detectives or archaeologists. Some writers write only about paranormal beings while others write only of humans.

One writer might focus on contemporary events while others might think only of imagined scenarios. Some writers might look to the past and others to the future.

Genre too can play a part in style. Genre can affect word choice, subject matter, setting requirements and taboos, and the style of a story’s ending (happily ever after or tear-fest or death of a major character).

A list of styles

Approachable

Business-like

Cold

Condescending

Confrontational

Contemptuous

Conversational

Deceptive

Devious

Dictatorial

Diffident

Distant

Forthright

Friendly

Literary

Long-winded

Loose

Overly familiar

Patronizing

Persuasive

Political

Preachy

Rambling

Sarcastic

Scholarly

Smarmy

Uncaring

Unsure

Note: Some of the words that reflect style could also reflect tone; some mood words could describe a writer’s style. Whatever tone, mood, and style you decide on for your stories, realize that those elements contribute to the story’s feel.

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