Tuesday, November 24, 2009


People's moods change from day to day, even from minute to minute. A day that starts out clear and sunny may end with a ferocious thunderstorm; your smile may morph into a grimace. I've noticed my mood leaks into my writing. Is this common?

Characters grow and change. I do character sketches before I begin but the little creatures continue to astound me. As I continue along I've noticed each of them has their own rhythm; which has necessitated me going back and making sure it's consistent. Some are incredibly well-spoken, some are not. Some have trouble putting their feelings into words. Some (bless their hearts) just want to think about the food. However, they're all picking up my mood.

Yesterday was a very grey and rainy day here and my mood had the same forecast. It was one of those days where you think 'what's the point?' and 'I'm never going to finish this monster' even though my word count is getting fairly healthy. My characters picked up my mood. They began to quarrel. Someone who I had thought was fairly polite said something that made me take my hands off the keyboard and look twice. I may have uttered a colourful metaphor. Fairly polite and gently-brought-up girl has a bit of an attitude. Who knew? Other characters were saying things simply to get under one another's skin. Tensions rose. One character got up and left. These people are not getting along; which is tricky when they're stuck with each other for quite a few pages yet!

I'm pleased their polite masks are starting to slip, but what is going to happen if I'm writing when I'm in a terrible mood? I have visions of discovering instead of one murder, my poor detective is going to be surrounded by a bloodbath. On the other hand, perhaps everyone will shake it off and continue with their day.

I think, as writers, we're so deeply involved in our characters that we can't help it when they pick up our vibrations. I certainly feel for them and their situation. I have dreadful guilt about some because I know their endings. I'm very happy for others. All of them make me laugh.

Take a quick look at what you're working on right now. Can you tell what mood you were in when you wrote it? Are your characters sponges?


  1. I don't think my characters are sponges for moods, but they definitely siphon off parts of my personality. Certain moods will draw me to certain scenes, so I guess it happens in that way for me. (I do not write my stories beginning to end.)

    You touched on something that I find interesting in writing. It's the guilt over the some of the characters' arcs. It's nice to know I'm not the only one. I have a quandary related to that now. I have a character who will die. His last morning with his wife was pleasant as things stand now, a reprieve from the chaos. I am afraid that I may have to change that. It grieves me to think that their last moments together might have to be a fight.

  2. Elspeth - My characters are sometimes sensitive to my moods. That's why my WIP is taking longer than I sometimes wish that it would. I find it harder to really tune in to what the characters are going through (rather than what *I'm* going through) when my own life gets hectice, etc.. So I try to write when things are calm enough that I can focus on my characters and leave myself behind.

    Sometimes, though, I find that my mood helps my writing. For instance, if something makes me grumpy, I use that mood to write a scene that I know has to involve a grumpy character. It helps me to channel myself that way.

  3. What a great way to infuse realistic life into your characters! I don't know if mine pick up on my moods or other characteristics, but paralleling your moods certainly adds interesting depth.

  4. abouttothunder; Do what's right for your story; sometimes not everyone gets a happy ending.

    Margot; More good advice! I'm trying to write straight through and not jump around too much; but perhaps I'll try your method for better results!

    Joanne; I hope it's adding depth! I am trying to write realistic characters and no one is sunny all the time.

  5. Check out the "January days are gray days" opener for chapt 18 in Faking It and guess when I wrote it, and what mood I was in...

    I don't think that happens as a rule, but it happens once in awhile, and if/when it does, I have to decide if it works.

  6. This will sound a little bizarre, but for me it seems to work the other way. What's going on with my character(s) can impact my mood for hours after writing time is over. When I'm writing "really bad guy" POV, for instance, I have trouble shaking off the horrid language and nasty attitude while I'm fixing dinner. You can imagine the culinary consequences.

  7. Elisa; I'm relieved it happens to other people occasionally. It isn't a constant situation with me either.

    Patricia; LOL!!! Perhaps dinner on those days should be recipes that call for a great deal of chopping! I have a wonderful visual of you storming around your kitchen berating the onion. "How DARE you make me cry, you little ***&#!"

  8. I think there is only one character who channels my moods and that's Myrtle. The other characters are more ME getting influenced by THEM. But with Myrtle, when I'm in a foul mood, *she's* in a foul mood.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  9. Elizabeth; Myrtle in a foul mood would be formidable. Glad I'm not one of your bad guys! By the way, did you find any birds in your house? Checked all your closets? Behind the cushions on the couch? Just wondering...

  10. I think my mc's tend to follow my moods. I also find they affect my mood. This might actually happen more often than the reverse.

  11. Elspeth, you really dig into some of the fine nuances of being a writer. YES! My characters DO sponge up my moods. Ya just gotta be careful and direct the energy in a way that is productive to the overall plot and story. But I think it's a good thing, for the most part.

    Marvin D Wilson

  12. Jemi; Interesting. Thanks for weighing in. Most people seem to be in the same boat.

    Old Silly; I'm just trying my best in my own small way. Let's hope it's a good thing and it is productive to the plot.

  13. My moods definitely leak into my characters and my story--which sometimes leads to me having to write scenes out of sequence...

  14. I haven't noticed my moods leaking into my characters. But I'll pay attention from now on. Thanks.


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