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How Codes and Conventions Affect Mood

#WritingTips Creating mood and atmosphere with your writing is more than just using words. And a fine example of how we can create mood and atmosphere is this Canadian song.…
If you don't know French listen to the song and decide whether the words are scary. If you know French, still listen to the song and consider that though the words are not scary, the mood and atmosphere is.

How did the songwriter achieve this?

Well, he used codes and conventions of music that translate into our minds as scary.
Writers use codes and conventions of the genre and form in which they are writing. Codes are things that create meaning like symbols, images, and sound and lighting. Conventions are the parts that are normally found in that form.
It's how we partner passages with other words or hints to other texts, or how we use the sound of words to create the effect. These are literary devices.

Can we do this naturally? 

Sure. If you're a great reader, you have an affinity for language, and you've been writing for a long time, you may be able to produce the best draft the first time.
For the rest of us, we have to study codes and conventions by saturating ourselves in the genre and form, use a thesaurus, study the best writing that has gone before, and do lots of rewrites to make our passages the best they can be.

How to improve your writing?

  1. You can find mood words online. Sometimes Pinterest has a great graphics list that you can easily access. Keep them handy when you write, and go back into your writing and use them where you can.
  2. You can be an interactive reader, taking notes while reading some of the best writing in your genre.
  3. Find some dedicated bookworms who read voraciously in your genre of writing, and have them give you feedback on your manuscript.
  4. Take your own writing and find a passage that exemplifies mood atmosphere through your tone. Highlight how you actually did that so you are consciously paying attention to what might be automatic.
  5. Lastly, take a passage from a reading that left you a little disappointed. Consider how you can improve the text by adding/changing word choice, rhythm, sounds, length of sentence, allusions foreshadowing and all of the other wonderful literary devices available to us.


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