What Is Tone and Mood in a Story? Readers and Emotions.

For many people, reading is an escape. When they are reading a book, it is easy to get lost in the story and forget about reality for hours at a time. But not all books are the same – some have happy endings while others have sad ones, for example. So, what makes these different stories so different? The answer lies in tone and mood.

Tone and mood in a story are both very different things and are often incorrectly used interchangeably. The mood is the overall feeling you have reading a story, such as passion, excitement, or sadness. Tone describes how the author feels about the story, such as happy, sad or dramatic. Story tone is one important way to establish the mood for the reader.

Mother and Child Reading

As a writer, you need to understand the difference between tone and mood so that you can create a story with the appropriate feeling. Unfortunately, many writers do not consider them at all and they incorrectly use them interchangeably.

Let’s clarify the difference between tone and mood in a little more detail and give some examples.


Tone refers to the way the author feels when writing. The writer will use language to set the tone of the story, such as description or dialogue to convey the tone to the reader.

Tone is a term that goes along well with writing styles, but it is usually used to describe how a book feels.

Tone reflects an emotion and permeates a character and makes the reader feel the character’s feeling. A writer will use language to help the reader imagine what the character is feeling. For example, a character feeling afraid is called “haunted,” envious as “embittered,” or angry as “fired up.”

Is it positive or negative? Humorous or serious? It might be a combination of any one of these things, depending on what you’re reading and your interpretation of it. You can find tone in practically anything that’s written down – not just books.

Examples of Tone

As an example, the tone in a book can be seen in the way that it is written. For example, authors often use descriptive language to convey how they feel about their work. These can help you form an idea of what the author is trying to say.

Another example of tone in literature would be if a character was telling jokes at inappropriate times – this might convey that they are not taking things seriously, reflecting the tone the writer is trying to convey.

A good storyteller will weave their own feelings into the characters’ dialogue, which gives us hints about how they feel. For example, if you’ve ever read a book and then heard it being adapted into a film later on, the way the character’s emotions are portrayed in one can differ from another.


Mood describes how you feel as you read through a book or story. The tone set by the writer can create a mood that you feel as a reader.

For example, if the tone of a story is optimistic and hopeful but it ends on a sad note, then the mood would be melancholy because we didn’t get what we were hoping for in the end.

In some stories, this sadness may be intended to convey another message, such as loss or disappointment related to the story or characters.

Mood is communicated by an author’s choice of colors, tones and word usage to create a mood or atmosphere for any part of the story. For example, a red rose blooming on May 1st induces feelings of romance or peace.

Examples of Mood

Mood in literature isn’t just conveyed through tone, but also through the words themselves. Some examples are difficult vocabulary or sentence structure (i.e., run-on sentences), which can either build tension or create a mysterious tone.

Another way that mood is conveyed in literature is through symbolism – this might include things like rain, thunderstorms and storms as these are often seen as representing something terrible about to happen.

Do I Really Need to Know The Difference?

Understanding the difference between tone and mood is important because it can help you write better novels and stories, but it’s also important because it can help you understand why others react to what you create.

So yes, it is essential to know the difference so that while you are writing, you can incorporate both in your stories correctly. This is how the most effective writers create stories that are interesting and addictive to read.

It all comes down to your decision of what you write and how you want to make your reader feel about it.

There’s also no limit to the number of ways in which tone and mood can be conveyed through a book – this is part of what makes writing so enjoyable.

Don’t forget that you can also change them throughout the story. You do not need to stick with one tone in a story. Instead, you can change it to suit the mood and atmosphere you want to create.

It can take practice to use tone and mood properly, but with time and effort, you will improve. Try writing different stories using different tone and mood genres and see how it goes!

Writing Tip:

Tone and Mood are not always obvious or easily identifiable, but that’s what makes them fun to work with! Think about the tone and mood of your favorite stories – how are they conveyed?

What tone and mood would you like to convey in your writing? How can you use them in your own works?

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