Difference Between Tone vs Mood

Difference Between Tone vs Mood

Today we explore the difference between tone and mood and isolate exactly how and why the two words are used as part of literature. One refers mainly to the way that a writer wants you to feel when you read their work, and the other is more about how you feel yourself while reading that writer’s work.

We are going to spell out every key difference for you in an accessible and easy to understand way. By the time you reach the end of the post, any confusion about this subject will also be at an end too.

Definition of Tone

Tone is the way that an author wants their work to feel. It can be described precisely as the attitude or character of a place or piece of writing.This might sound very similar to mood, but it actually is not. This is because tone relates to the very specific way that something is supposed to feel, whereas mood is open to interpretation and relates to the perspective of the person reading the material.

Tone, then, is actually a framework. It is the exact way that the author of a written piece of work wants something to come across based on their own feelings at the time of writing.

For instance, if the writer is feeling sad, they will probably try to make their work seem sad by describing the setting in a solemn, dreary fashion. Probably, characters who are struggling in some way will be included. If this is the case, the writer would be trying to set a sad tone.

They could also set a happy tone by writing about a setting with the opposite characteristics and featuring characters with the opposite (happy) emotion. Either way, the author of the work is purposefully setting a very specific framework for the way that they want you to feel.

Definition of Mood

Mood is the way that someone feels about the content that they are reading. It can be defined specifically as a temporary state of mind or feeling.

The difference between mood and tone is that tone directly relates to the writer of the material and the nature of the setting they are trying to place you in. Mood is all about how you feel yourself as a result of the setting you are reading about and the frame of mind it puts you in.

A good writer can make you feel sad or happy based on the tone of the work they are creating. If they write material with a sad tone for instance, it is likely to put you in a sad mood.

Main Differences Between Tone vs Mood

To help you further separate tone vs mood, we will now outline their key differences via a quick reference table that you can come back to anytime you get stuck.

Basis of ComparisonToneMood
Whose perspective does it relate to?The author’sThe reader’s
MeaningThe setting an author creates using their attitude towards a subjectHow the reader feels about a setting created by an author
Associated wordsDark, foreboding, upbeat, bright, warmScared, unsettled, happy, sad, anxious
Examples of how they are used in sentences The haunted mansion was dark with an eerie appearanceWhen I read the section about the haunted mansion, it made me feel scared and anxious
Whose feelings do they relate to?The author’s feelingsThe reader’s feelings

Difference Between Tone and Mood: Conclusion

For those who have been comparing tone vs mood endlessly and scratching their heads over how the two differ, you now have all of the information you need to stop this tiring debate and get straight to the bottom of it all.

Part of the confusion comes from the fact that many people use the two words in similar ways. But remember that the tone is what the author wants to communicate about the feel of the setting, while the mood is how you feel in response to the setting of the author’s work. If you use this sentence and the above table as quick references to set the two apart, you are unlikely to face any further confusion in the future.