Emily's Foundation, Week Two: Setting And Mood In Mystery
Seeing The World Through The Eyes Of Your Character When setting the scene in a Mystery novel, ask yourself "How does my character see the scene?" We ask this question because, as a writer, we don't write a description simply for description's sake. First we set the scene; then we interpret it through the mood of the character.
Using This Image To Set The Scene And Add Mood The image for this prompt is, in and of itself, quite compelling. If you removed the woman and the boy, it would remain interesting, but we primarily would be dealing with the “Setting”. With the two of them completing the picture, though, we can add one of many possible "Moods" to the scene, all deriving either from the woman's or the boy's point of view.
Who is the point of view character in the picture above? The woman, who is probably the mother of the child? But what if she's not the mother? What if she's a social worker? What if she's the detective? What if she's the murderer, and is also the boy's mother? What if she killed her husband?
What if the point of view character is not in the picture but watching from afar? What if this unseen person is the detective in your mystery? What if he doesn't trust the woman holding the little boy's hand?
What if the observer is the murderer, and he gets sick pleasure from watching the mother and child grieving?
You can't determine any of this by just looking at the scene from the outside and describing what you see. You have to become the point of view character and see the scene through her or his eyes. Once you've asked and answered questions such as these, step back and appraise this scene through the eyes of your character, at this moment. This will greatly help you enhance the setting with mood!
Seeing The World Through The Eyes Of Your Character When setting the scene in a Mystery, ask yourself "How does my character see the scene?" We ask this question because, as a writer, we don't write a description simply for description's sake. First we set the scene; then we interpret it through the mood of the character. If this character is a detective, he probably already has a hunch about who the perpetrator is. This hunch will affect the mood of your scene.
How do you choose which character is the point of view character? You don't decide. Rather, which character is calling you? Write from his point of view. If it isn't flowing, write from the other character's point of view.
Whenever you’re writing a scene, whether it's solely from your Imagination or from a Prompt plus your Imagination, remember to consider the Setting and Mood of the scene through the eyes of your character.
The Benefits Of Using Picture Prompts I've added three more pictures above; just click on an image to see it full-sized.
Using picture prompts to set your scene allows you to focus on adding mood from your imagination. Simply seeing the details of a time and place allows you to jump deeply into the mood.
To get started on this week's scene, use the picture at the top of the page as the prompt that leads you through Setting and Mood. Or, if any of these other three pictures interests you more than the top one, use it instead.
If you're having any problems writing this week's scene, you can call Emily at (914) 962-4432 to talk about what is slowing you down.