Setting the Mood: Writer’s Problems


I’m am currently 3.5 chapters into my newest novel, a fantasy and science fiction melding about a girl who’s life is forever changed when she opens her father’s journal.  I’m a discovery writer so really I’m still figuring out what this book is about and what’s happening to my main character as we wade into her story.  I’m getting some inklings about what kind of characters and scenes might be coming ahead, but mostly I just build as I go.

Now, I realize that discovery writing isn’t for everyone, but for my part, I do my best writing when I don’t necessarily know what’s coming next.  I may know how I want to end a story (and it may or may not actually end the way I want it to), a scene or two along the way, and the characters I want to introduce.  Other than that, I’m flying blind, and I love it.  The two stories that have been published in literary magazines were both written this way, and had little or no editing when I first submitted them for publication so I can write this way just fine.

I am, however, hoping that my writer friends might offer some suggestions about a mood/setting issue I’m having.  You see, I want a more dangerous and dark fairytale mood in my story.  Similar to Tanith Lee’s Flat Earth series or like that of the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth.  At the moment, I have a very Harry Potter-esque feel and mood to the whole thing, I think, and while I want there to be that aspect of the main character discovering things about herself and her family and her world that she never knew about before, I still want that danger and risk and dark mood to hang over the whole thing.  I’m just not getting it.

To be fair, I am only on chapter four and just now beginning to build some more important aspects of the world and the history so I know there’s time to add that stuff in.  In the meantime, I wanted to know if you guys had any suggestions for how to get the mood I want in a particular story, without sacrificing the character building I’ve done (I really like my main character the way she is and I’d rather not change her, if I can help it).  Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

That’s all for now.  I have a sick dog to tend and some rest to get so that I can finish my own recovery from a sick/holiday weekend.  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a lovely week!

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One thought on “Setting the Mood: Writer’s Problems

  1. Hi T. Glad you’re writing.
    You can leave your MC’s personality in tact and create the darkness around her in multiple ways. EG: You can have others around her stand in stark contrast to her mood/bearing. This can be accomplished with looks, comments, etc. You can show her naivety burning her against the fabric of the dark/dangerous world around her. This could lead you to an interesting character arc for her: Does she become darkened? Does her Polyanna grin get ripped off of her face by life?
    Most/all stories need a series arc; perhaps this is hers.

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