While having lunch with a longtime friend, he mentioned that he enjoyed my novels but confessed that he almost couldn’t finish one because he found it depressing. 

He said he stayed with it and was relieved when it lightened up to some extent. I thanked him for the feedback. I told him that the novel probably reflected my state of mind at the time, but also that it was a mood that I wanted to convey to the readers. From his observation, I believe I succeeded.

The novel in question is Old Ways and New Days, the book that launched my John Ross Boomer Lit series in 2015 (I retired that same year).

The story begins with John Ross clearing out his office, where he was sports editor at a newspaper. The paper is being downsized so he takes an early buyout. But he is depressed as part of his life has been turned upside-down. He has spent most of his adult life in the workplace. Now he has to find a new purpose in life. 

John wrestles with these feelings of emptiness for part of the book until he gets involved in a community activity. He has a wife who provides moral support.  He also gets a dog. And then he begins to reconnect with some old friends, all retired, who help him gain perspective on his life.

There are various moods in novels and other forms of fiction as well as nonfiction — from dark to humorous to melancholy to fatalistic and everything in between and beyond.

Mood is created by the characters, especially the protagonist and that person’s state of mind. In Old Ways and New Days, John was depressed by the turn in his life. He was in a deep funk. 

Mood is also conveyed in settings. The opening setting with John, alone in his office, putting personal belongings, books, and memorabilia in a box. While that initial scene invokes sadness, later scenes in the book have him accepting these “new days” in his life.

John drives home in the dark, alone in his thoughts, he thinks about the previous years he spent at the newspaper and what the future will hold for him. 

As the series has moved on to three other books, and a fifth being released on Oct. 1, they present different moods as John is dealing with new challenges and opportunities in his life. 

Different moods can be felt with novels, while some carry from the first page to the last. And when deciding on what to read, don’t we also choose books depending on our mood at the time?

For more tips about mood, check out these posts (and Google for more):

Literary devices: Mood

Novel writing: How to create strong mood

How to set the mood in your novel

Until the next time . . .

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