When we discuss our work with other writers, the word mood is sometimes used interchangeably with atmosphere. I see those two aspects of story as conjoined twins, marching along together. They are separate but intertwined so closely that they seem as one.
Mood happens in the background over the length of the story. Mood allows the emotions the writer instills into the story to be more specific, more intensely colored.
Atmosphere is also long-term but is part of worldbuilding. Atmosphere is conveyed by setting, which affects the overall mood of a piece.
Together, atmosphere and mood have the power to intensify the reader’s impression of the emotions experienced by the characters.
Emotion is immediate, short term. It exists in the foreground but works best when in conjunction with the overall atmosphere/mood.
Robert McKee, one of my favorite teachers on craft, tells us that “emotion is the experience of transition…
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