Nancy's Books

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tone vs. Mood

A couple of weeks ago, I taught a class on writing children’s books. An attendee asked about the tone of the story, so here goes my answer.

Tone is the author’s attitude toward the subject or the events in the story. It reflects emotion and is revealed through word choice and narrative. In my book, THE MUNCHED-UP FLOWER GARDEN, the tone was amusing and introspective. Told in first person point of view, Liz reveals her anger in witty ways and dreams of winning a blue ribbon. Since the story has an Appalachian setting, word choice included regional phrases (She could iron nails and spit nails) to express emotions.
When Liz’s mother tells her she cannot speak unkindly to a neighbor girl, she whispers “good riddance” to her cat. My word choice expresses how the character feels about the situation in order to evoke a particular reader response (mood). Illustrations showcased the humorous facial expressions and body gestures, which added to the overall tone and mood of the story.
The more intense the tone, the more the reader is hooked. Set the tone early in the book to establish a pattern the reader will look for and identify. If you begin with humor, the reader will expect bits of humor throughout the text. When writing about Appalachia, the tone in my books is always respectful, focusing on the positive attributes of the region. The tone reflects my attitude, and my attitude toward Appalachia is emotions centered: admiring, hopeful, appreciative, and the list goes on.

Call for submissions for Adult Writers

Pockets Annual Fiction Writing Contest is open until August 15. There is no theme and no entry fee! Word count is 750-1000. Click on the link for more information.

Submission guidelines at

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