It’s early morning and snow is falling fast and wet outside the warehouse windows. Apart from the whoosh of the occasional car and the steady hum of the ventilation, it is quiet as the green coffee beans wait in burlap sacks for the roaster. She arrives in a wet beanie, cursing cheerfully at Mondays and the weather, and the dusty smell of husks and paper is overtaken by something sweeter curling up through the stale air—the bloom of coffee roasting.*
A date is (usually) only as good as its atmosphere and, because we are wooing our readers, scenes are no different. So let’s look at how to set the mood.
Colors carry many associations. They are often tied to weather and time (a bright day, a gray morning) and convey specific emotions. For instance, gray often casts the narrative in a melancholic light, whereas red can bring an air of excitement—or dread—to an account. Use colors to move your reader’s emotions in the right direction.
Are they soft or harsh? Are there any sounds at all? Is the restaurant’s background music insipid and uninspired (which implies a jaded narrator and gives an overtone of boredom) or do the notes hang in the air with the suspended tension of ballet dancers mid-leap (implying/stirring up rapture, exuberance, passion)? Just going into a little more detail about the sounds of the place can bring about big rewards for your scene.
The woven texture of this book,
Smooth, heather gray tickling
My fingers running over the spine
Bumping over bronzed letters
Of author, title, unnoticed imprint
Blooming the six senses
Is more than I could ask for.
I jotted this “poem” down several months ago during a slow shift at work. It’s more observation than art, but I think it conveys my point about touch—it adds a surprising amount of depth to whatever experience we are trying to create for our readers. So add how the tabletop feels under her tapping fingers (or in our case, how the keyboard feels beneath our chronically typing fingertips); it will fill out your writing nicely.
I have an entire post dedicated to this underrated sense, which provides both my reasoning and a word bank for your reference 🙂
There is certainly more that adds to the creation of the mood of a scene, so perhaps I will take the classic writer’s out and produce a sequel to tie up the loose ends.
Until then, get writing!
Abigail signing off.
*Fun fact, I wrote this post while in the warehouse where La Barba roasts their coffee, so if my description gave you any idea at all of the feeling of the place, it’s like you were with me this morning.