Mood is the emotional attitude the author takes towards hir subject. Similar to Tone.
From Talkie List Dec 06 From: Kevin Collins > He wants to know why it matters. Not knowing who the > student is (but based on the title he/she is reading, I think it's a > freshman), I'm wondering how to reply. Suggestions? Valerie: There are, I think, three different questions implied in his posting, all of which are valid: --The first is "why is it important that we students learn to recognize mood?" --The second is "do authors really try to set a mood with word choice, etc.deliberately?" --And, third "are readers truly affected by it?" The answers to these questions focus on enlarging our students as readers, consumers, creators, and interpreters of their culture. #1. Certainly, the informed reader is a discriminating reader. An educated person can recognize when he/she is being manipulated, willingly or unwillingly, by an accomplished writer (or purveyor of...whatever -- goods, ideas, policies). If a writer "sucks us in" to a world in which we feel the tension, or the suspense, or the roll of the waves, there is a transcendent pleasure there. And while it may be true that a reader doesn't *need* to have the ability to recognize the elements of the writer's craft to enjoy the experience, those who can will have their experience enhanced because (if the author is good) the experience is tinged with admiration. And if the writer is a hack, the insightful reader will learn to recognize when he/she is being manipulated just to sell copies. #2. English teachers deal with this all the time. Most students believe that writing "just happens" because that's how *they* write. Even the most articulate explanations will fall by the wayside with many kids, because they have yet to experience enough things to recognize patterns of deliberate action, except at the mos obvious levels (this is particularly true of freshmen and sophomores). All I can offer is one of the earliest examples of "setting a mood": Homer's choice of "the wine-dark sea" in _The Iliad_. Let us suppose that he had chosen "the blood red sea," or "the glistening azure sea" instead. Each one clearly connotes a different mood, and surely if we can assume Homer had many, many descriptive words at his disposal, this particular pair had a purpose. #3. If he is a fan of "The Matrix," he should take a look at it again and note how in the "real world," everything is tinged with blue and is asymmetrical, while in the "matrix world," everything is tinged with green and is often rigidly symmetrical. This was a deliberate choice of the directors and the art director, to set the right mood with the audience. Several hundred million dollars later, I think we can say they made the right choice. Kevin From: Mary Tigner-Rasanen i was thinking that it's very easy to see the impact of this with film. if you showed your students two films of different mood - say The Sound of Music and Blade Runner, and asked them how the films would be different if the moods were switched - how the characters and our expectations of them would change - it would be quite easy for them to see how important mood is to the work, how it impacts the viewer, or in the case of written work, the reader. it may be easier to talk about this with film because it's visual and immediate (although mood can be set with music too - which is, again, immediate). it is often not as easy with writing to sense the mood, especially for inexperienced readers. mary I think the "implied" questions you suggested the student has are absolutely correct. Reading between the lines of a student's words, especially in a blog and not knowing who the student is, proves a challenge for me. I know even in my creative writing classes in past, students struggle with the idea that an author chose each word specifically, with an audience in mind. For me, mood reveals the author's intention (at least a lot of the time). What is it about audience that the writer has in mind when he's writing? How does he want audience to be affected? How does he do this? Not knowing/noticing or caring about an author's mood is akin to eating a gourmet dish prepared by a chef who has spent hours cooking a dish all with the "audience" in mind. You eat it and sure, it may be good, but you're missing such an enjoyable part of the experience if you don't take note; like a dog who just wolfs things down. But, with our society's emphasis on speed and efficiency, thus the market for fast food, does it really matter? With this discussion in mind, I'm wondering what you see as the finer differences between mood and tone. Oh, I know the difference in technical definition, but I wonder about the deeper differences. I know my AP teacher says that in AP land, everything comes back to tone and she teaches this. It reminds me of Marshall McCluhan's idea that the medium is the message (reading I had to do in college and idea I struggled to understand but as I get older, the more it makes sense). Do you think that holds just as true with words? Valerie Person From: Kevin Collins > With this discussion in mind, I'm wondering what you see as the finer > differences between mood and tone. Oh, I know the difference in > technical > definition, but I wonder about the deeper differences. I know my AP > teacher > says that in AP land, everything comes back to tone and she teaches > this. It > reminds me of Marshall McLuhan's idea that the medium is the message > (reading > I had to do in college an idea I struggled to understand but as I get > older, > the more it makes sense). Do you think that holds just as true with > words? > ===== These are superb questions, Valerie. And I think your suggestion that there is a connection between "tone" and McLuhan's maxim has merit, though it had not occurred to me before. Tone, unlike mood, may be inadvertent -- which connects to McLuhan's "the medium is the message," since the intent of the communicator is nearly irrelevant, at least as far as the cultural impact is concerned. The author is often at the mercy of the events in his/her life, or his/her age, etc., when crafting a work of literature. For instance, Amy Tan has had second thoughts about some choices she made regarding the use of the number four in _The Joy Luck Club_. She still has a difficult time reconciling what may have been on her mind as a first-time novelist when she wrote it, and the method with which she has crafted her mature works. Or, perhaps even more pertinent are the works of Kurt Vonnegut. In so many of the Introductions to his novels, he will reflect upon the tone of an earlier work with regret (and surprise), especially when he reveals that readers have pointed out to him, for example, the "suicidal" tone of his mid-60s novels. As McLuhan noted, the content of a particular medium is another medium. The content of video is print, and the content of print is verbalization. We can also apply this to writers and readers, at another level. "Reader response" theory holds that the interpretation of a work of literature is based entirely on an individual reader's interaction with the text -- in other words, the meaning of a work of literature is based upon the content of the reader's mind at the moment of textual interaction. In the same vein, the reason why a particular sentence may have been crafted at a particular time in an author's life may often only be clear in retrospect. Anyway, I don't know if this is an answer as much as it is an exploration inspired by your observation. Useful to think about, though. Kevin From: Jan Bone Valerie, you make the distinction--or at least, I'm inferring that you do--between writing, and "creative writing." Don't the kids realize that even in, and maybe leave off "even," --in commercial writing, audience and purpose are essential to reach the intended audience? But it's far more than that...writers on the commercial side (and I'd suspect, repeat-sellers on the "creative" side) think a great deal about who their audience is, and why they're writing what they are writing. Consider, for instance, the difference in tone between he said, he alleged, he stated, he surmised, he told, he shared, he suggested... and the difference the verb choice makes in the audience/ reader reaction. That's why you see "said" so much in newspapers and reporting...it's the neutral verb, to do away with the implications of the others. There are so many things the commercial writer--I'm defining this term as a person who's writing primarily for pay, often for hire or as part of employment--has to consider on audience...are the readers subject-matter-experts, are they managers--in which case, business-and money-related information on which they'll make decision is important and played up--are they technicians/tech people who care deeply about the "how" something is done, in contrast to the consequences of doing it,are they Reader's Digest-type of lay people looking for entertainment or mild levels of information? Consider those categories, and think what they mean to the writer working to reach the different audiences. Interesting discussion - but don't let it stop at "literature"... jan
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