Writing is dear to my soon-to-be self-published heart! As a skill as well as a talent, writing benefits from frequent regular practice and ongoing education. Author Joseph Carrabis shares his thoughts about the craft…
“How to Use Atmosphere in Your Writing” by Joseph Carrabis
Writers are told to use atmosphere in their stories. What is atmosphere?
Writing texts define atmosphere as …the presenting of physical details so as to create an emotional reaction in the reader. Emotional reaction is what allows the reader to identify and empathize with characters in the story.
Consider the line “Eric stopped as Julia entered a copse of ancient, dark boled trees” from a horror story I’m working on.
The details relevant to Atmosphere are “stopped” and “a copse of ancient, dark boled trees.” The word “stopped” tells us Eric doesn’t want to do something and what he doesn’t want to do is follow Julia into “a copse of ancient, dark boled trees.”
I hope readers experience some tension, some foreboding, and at the same time want to read more to learn 1) why Eric stops and 2) what happens to Julia in the copse.
Creating reader emotional reaction is important because you want the reader involved, engaged. The line Eric stopped as Julia entered a copse of ancient, dark boled trees should make the reader sympathize more with Eric than Julia because Eric is showing caution while Julia is entering that copse of ancient, dark boled trees and people (in their heart of hearts) tend to favor caution.
That sense of confinement, foreboding, discomfort, ill-at-easeness comes from the words copse (a dense growth of trees), ancient (anything ancient’s going to either be very, very good or very, very bad), dark (it’s going to be bad), and boled (even if you don’t know what the word means it just sounds like something that’ll hurt you) to create a malevolent atmosphere.
A longer version of this piece is available at Atmosphere is….
Does atmosphere enhance your writing?