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Changing Mood with Connotation and Denotation

  • Page ID
    184082
  • Word choice, or diction, usually brings about the mood and tone of a writer’s work. You practiced some of this yourself last quarter by changing your words to change the tone of the writing. This quarter, we are going to shift and focus on mood. Need a refresher on tone and mood? Check out the video to the right.

    Connotation, Denotation, and Mood

    The mood of a piece of writing depends a lot on the connotation of the words you are using. Why? Because as you learned, connotation is the feeling that the word invokes and mood is all about the feeling the reader gets from the piece of text.

    You can change the mood of a paragraph by using words with different connotations. It's important to note though that sometimes, people can disagree on meaning because different words hold different connotations depending on life experience. For example, one person may love the word moist because it brings an image of a nice cake into their head. Another person may hate the word because it makes them recall the time they waited at a bus stop while it was pouring rain without an umbrella. Generally though, the overall mood of something is not hindered by this.

    Let's practice changing the mood of a paragraph by changing words that have different connotations but the same denotation. Read Paragraph 1 and then read Paragraph 2. 

    Paragraph 1

    Emily entered the empty room. As she glanced at the curtains, their red color held her eye
    for a moment. At first, she failed to notice the chair between the two windows, but as she looked
    down, she was surprised to find a coin in the center of the plush cushion. The silver shined from
    the dark blue velvet. Before she picked it up, she looked around in hesitation. Was somebody
    watching? She wasn’t sure. So, it should not have been a surprise to her when, as she reached
    for the coin, she heard a loud thud behind her.

    Paragraph 2

    Emily invaded the unoccupied room. As she glimpsed at the drapes, their crimson color held her eye
    for a moment. At first, she neglected to note the armchair between the two windows, but as she glanced
    down, she was shocked to find money in the center of the elegant cushion. The silver sparkled from
    the dull blue velvet. Before she snatched it up, she looked around in doubt. Was somebody
    observing? She wasn’t certain. So, it should not have been a jolt to her when, as she reached
    for the money, she heard a powerful bang behind her.

    In Paragraph 2, the red words have the same denotation as in the first paragraph but a different connotation. As a result, the mood definitely changes. Paragraph 2 has a more dark and almost gloomy mood. Paragraph 1 has a lighter and optimistic mood to it. All of this happens just by changing words that have different connotations.

    As you can see, your word choice is important in developing the mood of the piece of writing you are working on. Depending on the connotation of the words you are using, you can develop very different moods for your writing.

    You will practice changing the mood of a piece of writing in the next assignment. If you are confused, reach out to me for help!