My daughter unexpectedly had the afternoon off today – she’s a medical student – apparently the hospital has Legionnaire’s Disease – anyway, she rang to ask me which Billy Wilder film she should watch. We’re both movie buffs and love the old classics. What’ve you got? I said. Well, she said, I’ve a choice of three: Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, or Sunset Boulevard. Wow, all great films, I said. Yes, said she, but which one?
Then it came to me. OK, I said, it depends on what sort of mood you want to be in. Because Some Like It Hot is upbeat and will make you smile, The Apartment is moving yet sweet – kind of somewhere in the middle because - Sunset Boulevard is tragic and sad. So, c’mon what mood do you want to be in?
This whole conversation got me thinking about writing a story or a scene, and how lately I’ve come round to considering mood. Just what mood am I going for with which scene. Or - and sometimes more importantly, (as I do like to write in close viewpoint) – what kind of mood is my main character in? Then I can check through my short story and/or scene and/or chapter and ensure that this mood is conveyed through story.
I think it’s useful to think about how we want our readers to feel about the story, overall. I know that I’ve had to rewrite actions and dialogue to reflect better just what mood my main character is in. I feel this brings extra clarity and truth to my fiction. The action is then driven even more by my main character(s) and I am better able to convey theme through mood. Sorted.
Mood is something I now look for in students written work. If there is an overall mood to a piece then I reckon that deserves extra brownie points!