Thinking about incidents from my past I may write about brings up emotions associated with those experiences. When I write a story about an event in my life, it’s as important that I communicate how the incident made me feel as it is that I describe what happened. One way to accomplish this is to control the story’s mood.
Stories, like people, have a mood, be it fanciful, somber, ironic, angry, scary, etc. Often your story’s mood springs naturally from the emotions you’ve resurrected as you craft your story and intuitively influences your word choices, sentence structure, pacing, and decisions about what you call to the attention of your reader and the amount of detail you ascribe to it. All of these things contribute to your story’s mood. We need to be careful that the mood of our story conveys the emotional experience we attach to it.
As you read the marvelous story below, you will be captivated—perhaps mesmerized is a better word—by its mood. Indeed, our class felt mesmerized when it was read to us in the soft, lilting voice of its author, Molly Shelton. Molly is a careful writer, weighing the effect of her word choices, savoring the experience in her memory as she writes and sharing the details that are important to her. Molly could have told us this story in a variety of ways, but the mood she chose to create lets us experience her adventure the way she experienced it. As you read her story, notice what she does to sweep you along with her to a very special place.
The Tale of an Eagle and an Ego
by Molly Shelton
Jim and I are in Banff, British Columbia. We park our motorhome at the back of the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, just as did the year before, alongside the Bow River. There is still some tension in the air because at breakfast I’d flippantly said, “It would sure be great if you were as thrilled to be with me as you are to get on that golf course!”
“Hon, I thought you wanted to spend the day looking for that eagle. And you know how much I love being here with you and getting to play this course again.”
Somewhat contritely, but still off-put, I replied, “I do…but you’re so excited I feel like I’m in second place when it comes to your golf.”
Jim looked at me. “I don’t even know how to answer that.”
And there it was left. He started asking me about my plans for the day and things were quickly smoothed over.
He has barely taken the key out of the ignition when I jump up and double-check my little backpack to make sure I have everything I need for the next four hours—six, if he decides to play all 27 holes: trail map, binoculars, bird book, a banana, and my
straw hat will take care of the first three hours or so. Later, I will need the post cards, Sharpie pen, colored pencils and, of course, a writing pad and a book for when I sit at the writing table next to the huge windows in the Rundle Room on the mezzanine of the hotel. Flipping the backpack over my shoulder, I eagerly pop open the door and step onto the river rocks. The cold, rushing water charges the air. Jim is just behind me, carrying his golf bag and putting on his cap. [click to continue…]