Friday, October 4, 2013

Getting into the Mood (of your scene)

Photo by: gorand1983
In order to write certain types of scenes well, I have to be in the right sort of mood. Particularly tricky are portions of the story that need to be especially emotionally charged. For example, I have to be in precisely the right mood to write key scenes if they're filled with:

  • Action
  • Fear/Suspense
  • Grief
  • Romance

Getting Myself into the Mood of the Scene

It's difficult to write a scene filled with adrenaline when I'm feeling calm and relaxed, a suspenseful scene when I'm amused, or a love scene when I'm impatient and frustrated. So, to get around this, I've started using a couple of tricks:

  • Mood Music
    Music helps me immensely when I'm having trouble getting in the right mindset for a scene. Music with lyrics is difficult for me to listen to while writing, but sometimes I'll listen to a few lyrical songs before I actually start to set the tone. Then, while I'm writing I'll put on some instrumental tunes to keep the juices flowing. These are some of my favorite instrumental artists to listen to when writing.

  • Body Language
    In my post about getting into the mood to write, I talked about how a change of clothing or scenery can help motivate. Likewise, silly though it may sound, something as simple as posture can really affect how well I can *get into* the mood of the scene. For slow, romantic, happy, or funny scenes, lounging on the bed or couch can actually put me in the relaxed mood I need to be to write them. But as soon as I want to inject a little more tension or action into a scene, it helps if I switch to a chair that forces me not to slouch. Literally sitting on the edge of my seat when writing can help the transform what could have been a mediocre passage into an edge-of-the-seat scene when reading.
    How are You Writing Today?
    Andrew Wales

  • Re-typing an Inspiring Scene
    One of my new favorite things to do is to pick up a book by an author that I know is a master at writing whatever type of scene I'm looking to do. Then I'll jump to those parts of the book and sit down and type it all out into an "Inspiration" document. The act of physically typing out the scene(s) helps get me in the right mood zone for writing my own. Much more so than simply reading the scene would (though this is good too).
    Note: This was an idea I saw on a blog somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember where. If it was you, let me know so I can give you credit and link to the post here!!!

  • Skipping Ahead :
    Let the Mood Choose the Scene!

    Instead of forcing myself into a different mood, sometimes I just run with it and skip ahead to a scene that fits my mood better than the current one. If I'm feeling particularly jazzed up, I might leap to a chase scene I know is coming in a couple chapters. If I'm on edge, I'll shift to a tense, suspense-laden passage. Feeling punchy, I'll change to a moment of light-hearted banter between my characters. I'll cut and paste the anachronistic scene into a running "Add Later" document. Then eventually, when I get to that point in the story, there's a pre-written scene all ready and waiting for me. So adorable.

Interestingly, some emotion-laden scenes come more easily to me, whether I'm in the mood or not. For example, it's usually easy for me to conjure up: anger, curiosity, embarrassment, irritability or somberness. Read into that what you will!

Other Resources:

Not in the Mood to Write? Write What You Feel - Elizabeth Craig || Inspiration & Imagination - Miss Cole || In a Bad Mood? - Maybe it's time to edit your work! ||

What about you? Do you find it difficult to write certain kinds of scenes when in a particular mood? Which type of scenes are the most challenging for you? The easiest? What tricks do you use to get yourself into the mood of the scene you're writing?


  1. These are all great ideas. I'm a big fan of the last one myself. I think it was Veronica Roth who said that she writes what she's in the mood for instead of forcing herself to write linearly. (That was when she was writing DIVERGENT. I'm not sure if that's changed since she was published.) I often leave notes in brackets to fill in whole chunks of writing at some later point, but it really seems to work for me.

    I hadn't thought of typing up another author's inspiring scenes, but I can see how that would really get you into the right frame of mind to write something in the same vein. Very cool!

  2. I'm a big fan of writing whatever scene pops in my head and forget continuity. It requires quite precise indexing so I can string it together later, but it keeps me writing :D And we aaaaaaall know how I feel about music ;)

    Thanks for the link to my blog!

  3. Fantastic ideas! I like to listen to the right kind of music for a scene just before, if not during my writing. I have to have that instrumental soundtrack going on in my head.

    I haven't tried the type up a scene from another book approach. I might have to try that one. ;)



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