Posts Tagged ‘atmosphere’

I haven’t finished a book this week – I am reading Gillespie and I,by Jane Harris, but only started it yesterday.

I noticed, though, that I am quite enjoying historical novels nowadays.  I remember at the crime writing convention last year, one of the writers joked that they wrote historical crime novels because they demanded less accuracy in the details.  That’s probably true, but I wouldn’t know if the details of a criminal investigation were right in a modern book either!

However, I find atmosphere to be much more affecting in historical stories.  Things like foggy streets, shadowy corridors with flickering candles, carts rumbling in the gloom, all give a sense of foreboding that is very particular and suits me at the moment.

Hopefully I will finish the book this week but it’s over 600 pages long, so that might be a bit of a stretch…

Happy reading,



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It’s Halloween today (just – it’s nearly the witching hour here!) and it’s not long since I finished writing group, so I’m very tired.   I doubt I’ll dream up a book a la Mary Shelley, but you never know!

In honour of the date, I’ve been thinking about spooky characters in literature to discuss, but I reckon there’s plenty of that on WordPress already tonight!

Instead, I’m going to draw your attention to this great list of things that go bump in the night and leave the freaky creatures there!

Today’s post is really a reminder that monsters aren’t always required – more mundane things are often responsible for a spooky atmosphere in novels. Here are a few examples I thought of, I’m sure you can think of more!

  • Fog
  • Howling wind
  • Tree branches
  • Rooks (or other black birds)
  • Shadows
  • Creaking floorboards

and one of the simplest and most effective – darkness.

The reason all these things work is, I believe, because they create a sense of unease –  and not just for the character in the book but for people in their real lives.  Who wouldn’t be a little unnerved being lost in the fog, or suddenly plunged into darkness?   That unease lets the reader know something is not right and sets them on edge; they can feel for the character and are waiting with the character to see what’s coming.

So if you are writing about monsters and ghouls, don’t forget that not every part of the supernatural, the spooky or the downright scary has to come from the creatures you describe: the human imagination is a powerful thing, let it do its job!

Happy writing,



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