Moody Edges

I just finished my first packet of my second semester of VCFA WCYA. (Insert virtual high five’s all around). My new advisor’s feedback was very insightful. No surprises there. I have even more work ahead of me for my second packet as the writing bar has been raised even higher. I kind of expected that, too. What really shocked me: my advisor returned her feedback in only one day! Cynthia Leitich Smith – you’re awesome. I have no idea how you work so quickly.

Before I dive into packet two and am off grid for another month, I thought I’d share an excerpt from one of my critical essays. This topic has prompted a new writing game I’m calling Moody Edges.


The Changing Mood of Edges

In her blog post “From Rough to Final: A Dissection of Revision,” Maggie Stiefvater explains, “The first line, to me, is about the purpose of the scene; the mood I’m trying to set; the ‘mission statement’ for the chapter. Edges – the first and last sentences of chapters, paragraphs, novels – are incredibly important for the work they do in the reader’s subconscious.”

Rita Williams-Garcia defines mood in her lecture “Tone, Voice, Mood” as “the emotion the writer seeks to evoke in the reader.” It differs from tone in that mood is all about the reader, not the writer. Tone, as defined by Williams-Garcia, is “the writer’s attitude toward his subject.” In many cases tone may be invisible in the narrative, but mood must always be present. Emotionally engaging novels use a change of mood from the first line to the last line of every scene, every chapter, and the whole novel to hook the reader and make him feel.


I won’t bore you with the rest of my critical analysis of a sample text. Instead, try my new game, Moody Edges. I’m playing this afternoon with my own work in progress.

  1. Write down the first line of a scene / chapter / manuscript.
  2. How does that line make you feel? Why?
  3. Write down the last line of the same scene / chapter / manuscript.
  4. How does that line make you feel? Why?
  5. Did the mood change?

Hint: If the mood didn’t change, you probably don’t need that scene.

Or you have some revising in your future.

Happy Writing!

About Jennifer Kay

Jennifer Kay is a KidLit author and Structural Engineer. She has a VCFA MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, is an SCBWI Rockford Network Rep, edits the SCBWI IL Prairie Wind, and belongs to Mystery Writers of America. Jennifer works as a writer, freelance editor, literary agency reader, and creative writing teacher.
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