We all have things that make us feel good; things, which bring us comfort, or lift our heart. Maybe it’s a snatch of song, the scent of cookies baking, watching kittens play, or the sound of a baby’s delighted laugh. The first snowfall and the quiet hush of peace and beauty it brings to our heart. It’s all about atmosphere. Sometimes atmosphere is something that happens, other times it’s something we invoke.
When I’m not in the mood to do household tasks, but know it has to be done, I play music with a strong beat and rhythm. Want to set a party mood, music again. Music and scent have always been a big thing in my life. Music makes me feel good, adds energy and can reset my mood. Music is a tool I’ve used to give the atmosphere of peace and serenity after an argument or so my baby could sleep.
After a stressful day out in the world I long for the comfort of home. I light my scented candles, turn on music, change into something comfortable—comfortable lounge pants, oversize shirt, a pair of soft socks or barefoot. If it’s cold and dreary, cooking special foods for dinner will call upon memories of growing up or happy times. I surround myself with cozy things to snuggle up to on a cold winter’s night, a funny movie, the smell of popcorn, a down comforter, a cat in my lap, a dog at my feet, and my family around me. A plate of homemade cookies, the snap and crackle of a fire all are atmospheric things of comfort I deliberately set up in my environment.
How do you set the atmosphere in your writing?
We want to show not tell, so how do you show the mood and tone surrounding your characters? Dialog will give the reader verbal cues but how you ‘paint’ your ‘scene’ gives subconscious clue to your atmosphere.
Take a moment and think: At the end of the day or the close of a long week, what does your mind leap to that spells comfort or invokes peace or happiness?
Chances are, you will automatically add in the atmosphere. It’s not just the action or words or a place, but the background your mind layers in subconsciously. If you contemplate how your comfort is built it becomes a pattern to build atmosphere in your writing.
When you need to set a particular tone or mood with your writing, what do you do to put yourself there first? Do you use sound? Touch? Scent? Open the inner journal of times past?