Yasmin Bakhtiari


            One thing I find very important in writing is setting a mood.  Of course this is accomplished through word choice. But what kind of mood am I trying to set? If the mood is going to be dark or sensuous, then I choose my words very carefully. I don’t use what I consider ‘sharp’ words or ‘metallic’ words. The words should be hushed, quiet, flowing, soft and lovely. 


I wrote a short story called ‘Sweet Jessica,’ and every word was handpicked to represent the mood and the tone of the story. I purposely used the word, ‘sharp’ one time in the story. The rest of the words were supposed to create a sense of timelessness in the story, the eternal push and pull of the ocean’s tide as a woman slowly loses her grasp on reality. The mood I was trying to create would not be the time to use ‘loud words’. Instead, I tried to use soft, lyrical words to set a tone for the story.


Also, if I am trying to create a somber mood, then I won’t read a light and funny book or watch an action, shoot ‘em up movie, or listen to hard rock music right before I start writing. I find it easier to immerse myself in the type of mood I am trying to create if I set my mind to that type of mood.


Everyone has his or her own style of creating a mood. Some people listen to soft music. Some writers light candles. For some writers getting their minds to the right place to match the tone of their stories is an easier endeavor than for other writers. Maybe just reading the last few pages of the story can set up the mood perfectly. But I find that if I just had a fight with my kids or my spouse and I am distraught and agitated, that is not the time to write a heartfelt scene with a tender moment. Why not pick that time to write about a bastard husband whose wife stabs him in the head with a fork or comes back from another life as a vampire and slices his throat open? (The pen is mightier than the sword and won’t land you on death row.)


So let your emotions help you write the scene. You don’t have to always calm down and then write. Use your senses and your emotions to write the scenes and then edit them later. Sometimes even anger can help me write the funniest of scenes, and then I laugh and laugh and kick up my legs in wicked glee.


So if you are sad and so down you can hardly get up, or you are in a great mood, or are angry as hell, run, don’t walk to your computer, and write powerfully. You may delete the whole thing later, you may even surprise yourself, but I guarantee you will set a very effective mood. Happy writing!




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  1. NB

    I agree with all of the points you make Yasi. Another great post! 🙂


  2. Susan Betancourt

    Very informative and funny at the same time. I never realized that effective writing can come from strong moods!


  3. Jeff Hahn

    Hmmm….bastard husband…fork in the head…throat slashed? Was this a “premeditated forethought? A mood setter perhaps? I would concur that it is important to be in a relative state to the topic….


  4. Wow…This is a great blog. Lots to think about. In classes, I preach: emotion, emotion, emotion. Well, with a generous dose of the senses. Thanks, Yasi, for a wonderful, thought-provoking post.


  5. Great post. I just wrote a blog that will carry along with this one. Great minds think alike! I enjoyed reading how you set the mood for your writing and I agree about having to be careful what you read while writing. Very informative blog.


  6. I enjoyed reading your post, Yasmin. When I’m trying to set a certain mood in a story I usually read a story or watch a movie with a similar tone. My favorite romance movie for dark angst is In The Cut with Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo. The movie’s tag line, Everything you know about desire is dead, describes it perfectly.


  7. I have recently been having issues with writer’s block, but I think I may have choosing to write about specific ideas and moments when I was in the wrong mindset rather than letting my mood and emotions guide me. Thank you for this blog. This morning I sat down and I let my mood and setting set the tone for my writing and I made some great progress. Thank you!!


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