‘How does the writer create mood and atmosphere?’ is a very common question at Common Entrance and also at GCSE and IGCSE. But what is the question asking you to find?

How does the writer create a strong mood and atmosphere?

You need to think about: how does the writer make a strong picture of place – weather – giving it a strong feeling like angry, bitter, happy, claustrophobic, very peaceful or calm.

Here are some examples of what to write mixed up. Can you put them in order of which would get the highest grade, and lowest, then all the ones in between? I’ve jumbled them up and given each one a number. The number doesn’t tell you the grade.

The writer builds up an angry mood. She uses words like ‘angry’ when she describes the weather to create an effect of hatred about the war. This is very bad and creates a strong effect which is very dramatic and shocking.

The writer builds up an angry mood using personification as if Mother Nature is ‘angry’. This dark tone builds up a negative attitude to the war as if war is so wrong that even nature becomes angry about it.

The writer makes a bad mood using the quote ‘angry’. This shows anger. The anger is very strong and a very definite mood which creates a bad effect on the reader as if everything is really terrible and she’s feeling really cross about it.

The writer uses pathetic fallacy,personifying Mother Nature as if she is ‘angry’ which is negative, but also shows that she’s suffering. This suggests she’s being ‘hurt’ by the war. It’s so bad it’s damaging the earth, something vast, old, and apparently impervious.

The writer builds up an angry mood using personification as if Mother Nature is ‘angry’. This makes a negative mood about the war. The feeling is really bad as if everything is terrible and it’s really sad and biter. This makes a very strong effect on the reader and is very dramatic.