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Advice on achieving a desired atmosphere?

I'm writing a dark fantasy story. It's not very high fantasy, I hope not anyway. Basically it involves a shaman's wanderings around a ruined land, while he's haunted by a demon. It's very brutal, but more sad and scary than swashbuckling or epic.

I want it to feel like a hopeless, dark journey, where everything wants to eat the main character. Any advice on ways to achieve it?

Also, I would ask people to read the plot summary and tell me what they think the atmosphere is like, but it's so long that nobody every reads it...


*ever reads it

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You will achieve this through the ACCUMULATION OF DETAIL.

    Write a list of what would make this journey seem hopeless and dark, where everything wants to eat your character. Use the senses: what can be seen, felt, heard? Use metaphors too, intelligently: things should be "like" other dark, hopeless, hungry things. Think also about how the character would behave. (Don't just give your character a thought, like: "This is dark and hopeless". Show instead of tell. Make the character walk and act as if he is feeling hopeless and vulnerable. List what things he might do.)

    So, for example, you may include descriptions such as:

    There was no path through this dead world. No sole-trodden, soul-trodden road to walk. No winding river to follow and draw nourishment from.

    The land was open and mountainless, rising and falling in shallow hills, the largest hill no larger than a burial mound.

    Even the wind seemed lost: it moved slowly, unsure in which direction to crawl.

    It was as if a shadow covered the land, cast by a huge and hungry animal, so dark was it.

    The trees stood dead and broken, white and fragile as bleached bones.

    The shaman wandered as if in sleep. His feet scuffed across the dry stone. His head nodded up and down with each step, his straggled hair nodding too. Nodding as if to encourage himself, to summon hope in such a place.

    The shaman came to a large boulder. He did not like it. He could not walk past it. It brought a shiver of fear. He felt the presence of something - an animal, a creature - hiding behind it. He could not walk past. Instead, he must walk round it. He must find the thing that was hiding behind it, or the nothingness that was there instead. But once he had ventured round the boulder's back and encountered nothing but the same - stone, sand, shadow - the feeling did not fade. It seemed as if the presence had moved, was now on the other side. He walked round the boulder again. Then he continued to walk. Round and round. The feeling did not fly. Fifty times he circled that stone - he counted. Fifty times and he felt the same. He stopped. He must move on. He could spend eternity circling this stone. He must move on.

    Atmosphere is created by a steady build up. List everything you could include in the scene and drop it all in to your story. Don't consciously try to "write" the atmosphere -- write the things that add to the atmosphere.

    Good luck!

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  • 9 years ago

    go into some deep woods and live homeless for a month. go where you can find coyotos, and jackels. not trying to sound like a b****. but i speak from experience. not know if wild animals will eat you can be scary. also smoke a j while you are and that can give you some ideas!

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