So you wanna set the mood, baby?

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Working at home = distractions. ‘S just a fact. Laundry or housekeeping if you’re feeling virtuous. Junk food and daytime TV if you’re not. And if you don’t live alone? Someone else’s robot sweeper or reality show gets added to the mix.

Enter RainyMood. With over 800 thousand shares and likes and pins, this site clearly fills a need. For me, it blocks out Matlock. But folks use it while reading, for sleeping, and for discovering new music with the swanky “add cool tunes to your rain-drenched experience” option.

There’s Coffitivity, too. For when you want to be in a coffee shop but don’t want to wear pants.  SimplyNoise gives you white, pink, and possibly paisley noise calculated for productivity or relaxation. There are forest glens and trickling streams and traffic noises all over the place, online and in apps, to give you just the sonic surroundings that you want.

Why? Mood, baby. Awwww yeah.

Now, if you’re writing something? You can’t set the auditory mood. But you can and do create mood. Even when you’re not trying. You can’t ignore it, and you shouldn’t do it by accident, so let’s talk about how to get moody.

Lit crit will tell you that mood is a little fiddly to define, but it boils down to elements that evoke emotion. And because we’re all friends here, we can break that down into three tidy techniques — setting, diction, and tone.

In literature, setting can be anything. Haunted house? French Riviera? That gazebo thing your neighbors have put in even though it’s way too big for their backyard but at least they aren’t hammering at 7:00 in the morning anymore so we’ll just tell ‘em it looks great? No problem. In ad copy or a blog post or even a Twitter background, you can do the same. Even if you’re not a graphic designer. Choose colors that sync up with the mood you’re after. Energy? Red or orange. Relaxation? Blues. Typewriter-style fonts like Courier New evoke a newsroom or vintage ad. Sleekly modern Helvetica is so neutral that it’s become omnipresent, but it’s still pretty handy. Most designers will warn you to avoid Papyrus like it might give you cooties, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s cool if you’re doing invites to a murder on the Orient Express, but you shouldn’t be murdering people anyway. So don’t.

(As a side note, for all the scorn heaped on Comic Sans, it’s apparently really useful for dyslexic folks, so that’s something to keep in mind.)

Doesn’t stop at color or font, though. You want to let people know you’re a hotshot urban professional? Maybe don’t put pictures of hay bales and horses in your Facebook cover photo. Want to get more voice students at your music studio? May I suggest you not use, oh, chainsaws and rusting spikes in your blog imagery. I mean, that’s all pretty common sense, right?

Yeah, you’d think so. But that’s because you think.

Which is really what designing setting is all about. Thinking. As in sit down with a pen and paper and think about what mood you want to evoke, then build your setting around it. And then use that setting across all your stuff. Blog. Twitter. G+ profile.

See? Setting. Get all up in it. And stay tuned to this channel for how to work more mojo with diction and tone.

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2 responses to “So you wanna set the mood, baby?

  1. Pingback: So you wanna set the mood, baby? Part 2 | Storytelling for Success

  2. Pingback: So you wanna set the mood, baby? Part 3 | Storytelling for Success

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