(To survey other elements and author quotes, visit the Elements of Fiction home page)

“All passages of narrative are set in a kind of musical key, and usually you won’t put in accidentals unless they have some special reason, they seem to work. It’s mood.” John Fowles

“What happens in the writer’s development of characters happens also in his development of atmosphere and setting. The megaliths and walls that form the salient feature of the cities of the Achaians, antithetical to the flowered walkways and the topless towers of Ilium, grow more stern, more alarming in their solidity with each revision. Menelaos’ scepter, which he uses as a cane, takes on a daemonic force.” John Gardner

“I give the reader precise information about the sight by means of those details which convey its essence. . . . I convey the mood by the kind of words and metaphor I select. . . . I do not try to convey the mood apart from that which creates the mood. Instead, I carefully select those words that both convey the exact physical details and have specific connotations.” Ayn Rand

“In your description of a sunrise, you want to convey a certain mood; the sunrise, let us say, in a ominous one. That requires different words than a description of a bright, cheerful sunrise would. Consider how much knowledge goes into your ability to differentiate between the two intentions. What is ominous? What is cheerful? What kind of concepts, words, metaphors will convey each?” Ayn Rand

“Make the mood of the world feed the story and theme.” Ulf Wolf

“It’s the roundabout method that seems so simple and is actually a choice of symbol blended with word sound. The intent is to soften resistance to the mood by the continuing of sounds and small pictures—miniscule things, about imperceptible.” John Steinbeck

“Space is the lord of War and Peace, not time.” E.M. Forster

“We are bearing in mind that the atmosphere in a story may not be the least of its glories.” Eudora Welty

“The difficulty is always at the beginning of chapters or sections where a whole new mood has to be caught, plumb in the center.” Virginia Woolf