Did you ever go to a movie and find the music so bad that instead of adding to the story it kept distracting you? The same thing can happen when you are setting the tone of a scene. The words you use, the phrasing, the sentence length can all either add to the tone or detract your reader from the story.
Here is where craft not just inspiration can bring your reader along or leave her to go check her email, organize his sock drawer.
Action? Slow it down with intense detail and short sentences. Setting? Longer and inclusive sentences to give a feeling. The villain manipulates the hero? Dialogue with grammar and words that fit each character.
I was editing a blog for American English written by a foreign filmmaker today. He uses music to inspire the creation of his scenes. I use certain pieces of music when I write to see if my language gives me the same intensity of feeling as a certain piece.
Each writer has their own music repertoire that evokes certain emotions. For example, for me when I want to get the feeling I want to convey with the villain is being especially manipulative and get that icky, creepy feeling I listen to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Red Right Hand. Sympathy for the Devil is just too self-congratulatory for the feeling I want. The joy of love at the beginning—Jovanotti’s Bella.
Give it a try to get “in the mood.”