Setting the Emotional Stage

Mood in Literature

Mood is a literary device that allows writers to convey their ideas on an emotional level. Mood is influenced by several different literary elements including setting, tone, and diction.

Creating the right mood is crucial for your story. Watch this Course Hero video to learn more about how to use mood in your writing.


The atmosphere in literature is the overall feeling a reader gets from reading a particular piece. It is usually created through a combination of different literary elements, such as diction and setting.

For example, if a story is set in a cramped apartment with scorching sunlight burning through floor-to-ceiling windows, the reader will probably feel uncomfortable and trapped in the situation. This is because the author has created an atmosphere of discomfort in this small space.

Atmosphere is also influenced by tone, which describes the way that an author or narrator sounds on the page. Using clear, strong diction can help to create an atmosphere of confidence and hopefulness, while a somber voice may contribute to a mood of despair or mourning. Mood and tone are often used interchangeably, but they are two separate literary devices that work together to create a specific feeling for the reader. They are both essential parts of any literature, whether it is a book, poem or play.


Tone is the overall feeling that a work of literature creates. It is the author’s attitude toward the subject matter, which reflects through word choice and sentence structure. A piece of writing can take on a variety of tones: cynical, inflammatory, humorous, hopeful, and so on. Other words used to describe tone include voice, feel, style, flavor, spirit, character and temperament.

Mood and tone are often confused. They are both feelings, but they differ in who the feelings affect: tone is set by the writer or narrator, while mood is how you, as the reader, perceive the story.

You can create a certain mood in a piece of literature through the use of setting, genre, context clues, and dialogue. However, you will need to be very careful with how you choose your words to convey your tone. Using the wrong ones can detract from the experience and make it less enjoyable for your readers. It is also important to consider the audience when choosing your tone.


When determining proper diction for a text, it’s important to consider tone, atmosphere, and audience. Tone expresses the author’s attitude toward their subject and readers, while atmosphere creates an emotional environment for the reader.

For example, a novel intended for young children may have simple diction, while one written for an academic audience would likely contain much more complicated language. In addition, the audience can influence the tone and mood of a work as different audiences have varying expectations.

Although the terms tone and mood are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. Tone refers to the writer’s attitude and can be formal, informal, serious, humorous, or sarcastic. Mood, on the other hand, is an emotional atmosphere that can be dark, suspenseful, or romantic. By establishing tone and mood, authors can create a memorable and meaningful literary work that allows readers to make emotional connections with the story. By using a variety of techniques, including imagery, setting, and characterization, writers can create an atmosphere that will engage readers.

Word Choice

Mood enables writers to take their audience on an emotional journey through a work. It reveals the central themes of a piece through the emotions evoked in readers, making it easier for them to identify with the author and characters.

Word choice, also known as diction, plays a significant role in creating mood in literature. The right word can make or break a piece, and determining the correct words to use requires attention to both denotation (the dictionary definition) and connotation (the underlying meaning).

For example, the setting of “a dark and stormy night” contributes to the overall mood of the story by establishing the physical atmosphere, but the specific diction used to describe the weather adds to the mood as well: the words “sombre,” “decrepit” and “savage race” convey a gloomy and melancholy tone.

The English language is full of words that look and sound similar, but they often carry different connotations. Strong writers have a large vocabulary and know which words to choose to express exactly what they mean.

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