My wife called me the other night, excited about something my eight-year-old son Josiah said on their drive home. Apparently he described the night sky by saying, “An army of clouds surrounds the powerful force of the moon.”
Not bad for an eight-year-old, eh? Not bad for an adult, at that.
Of course I’d like to take all the credit, tell you that he learned it all from me. But truth be told, he came up with that on his own.
My wife, of course, immediately posted it on Facebook, to rave reviews. The most popular comment? “I want to read the rest of the story!”
See what happens when you combine setting, detail, and mood? You create atmosphere. Obviously, the clouds are not an army, but the metaphor creates an image of strife. That simple description creates tension within the setting, and sets the stage for a story that will, likely, take place beneath the “powerful force of the moon.”
Were he to continue the story, as he may some day, he might use that opening image to establish a similar conflict below—an army nearing a powerful force, an epic battle beneath the tumultuous night sky.
Never forget the power of setting and mood. I’d encourage you, upon revision of your current story or novel (or even as you move forward in your current work in progress), to keep an eye open for opportunities your setting provides to create tension and unease.
Until next week, good writing.