Conveying the Mood

Something I’ve lately realized is that every author, even my favorite, has what I think of as ‘fall-back’ tricks they use when describing certain scenes, little quirks and twists of words that are as personal and unique as a signature. The great authors can get away with this, because their stories are just so darned compelling that we don’t notice or don’t care.

I’ve had to face it–when I, as an author, make a habit of resorting to writing my characters with excessive shrugging or sighing, it’s clear I’ve run out of ideas. I recently had a wonderful discussion with several other authors who have noticed this phenomenon in their own work. After that discussion, I found myself wondering how to maintain speed in my writing when I am in the zone, but still have a variety of words and ideas available to me for describing mood and emotion.

So–since tattoos are expensive, and my palm isn’t really large enough to contain a really good table of visual cues, I resorted to my handy-dandy Excel program, and created one there.

What I discovered while compiling this, is that my little brain is quite limited. I had to struggle to picture what these moods and emotions looked like.  Once I had the facial expression in my mind, it was easier to imagine how a character might appear to an observer.

What these cues do is help me come up with a fresh description when I want to show something that may happen frequently within a group of characters. I don’t necessarily use these cues verbatim as they are written here, but they do give my mind a jumping off point and I can extrapolate from there.

Please feel free to: right click> save as> png or jpeg and print it out for your own use.

Conveying Mood and Emotion in Writing



Filed under blogging, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, WordPress, writer, writing

9 responses to “Conveying the Mood

  1. Thanks Connie. This is very helpful.


  2. Another great tool is the Emotional Thesaurus. It was highly recommended by my editor and I have found it really useful!


  3. Thanks Connie for sharing your hard work – this looks like a great resource.
    I use The Emotion Thesaurus a lot (it’s pretty cheap to buy the kindle version and as I write on computer it’s always there at the click of a mouse), and here’s a link to another helpful little piece:


    • @Deborah–Those are wonderful resources, and I think people will get a lot of use out of them. For me, the exercise of creating a table that could be taped to the desk or wall next to the computer was as much about stretching my mind as it was about creating a free, simple, one-glance resource. I will probably expand on it and repost an updated version later.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like you’ve done a great deal of work there, Connie. I wrote a series of 3 posts a couple of years ago about looking at people’s features, expressions, and how to describe them (which isn’t quite the same as you’ve done). However, people might find them a handy resource too. I’ve posted the links here. I hope someone will find them useful. 🙂
    Describing People Part One: Faces –
    Describing People Part Two: From the Neck Down –
    Describing People Part Three: Gestures, Expressions, and Mannerisms –