Mood/Tone of Erotic Fiction


I don’t claim to know it all. Heck, I don’t claim to know much of anything. But I have a blog and since I discontinued most of my regular features, it’s looking a little sparse these days. So here’s an article in what I’m dubbing “Writing advice from a near-noob”. I still consider myself a newbie in writing…will probably always consider myself a newbie. Here’s one of the things I’ve struggled with: Mood/Tone.

For the cover art of my recent erotic romance releases, I had to fill out an informational sheet.

One of the lines asked for: Mood/Tone 

I was absolutely stumped (still am, shh don’t tell!). What was mood or tone related to a fiction story?

A few Google searches didn’t turn up much to help me. The words bloggers and web site authors wrote made little sense to me when applied to my own work. Horrible, right?

I found this link on Yahoo that helped a tiny bit–Teaching Mood and Tone to Middle School Students. This was definitely the most interesting take on Mood/Tone I’d come across. The author posits that a great way of teaching this concept is to discuss trailer remixes–an Internet fad from ages ago. He showed the original Sleepless in Seattle trailer–a notable romance movie–and then a remixed version casting the movie in a sinister light as a thriller featuring a crazed stalker. Thanks to different music, fancy editing and a few new bits of text the tone is strikingly different even though it’s the same movie.

So is Mood/Tone nothing more than the perception an author has about their work as a whole? Or is it the perception they’d like their readers to get? Is it BOTH?

I assumed it was both but I still wasn’t sure. However I was more amused after watching the trailers than I had been prior.

Story in hand, I racked my brain for a few brief words to describe the mood/tone of my erotic romance without repeating everything I’d said in the brief synopsis.  I repeatedly came back to “sexy”. But…it’s an erotic romance. Can anyone say duh? Nonetheless I put that down because it was important to me that my covers for these be sexy.

Next came distilling the story down to its barest themes–something that has to be done for blurbs and such anyway, right?


Alpha Exposed features two highly independent characters who need something from each other. The heroine needs help finding her sister. The hero needs to restore his reputation after the heroine publicly rebuked him. Both have preconceived notions that cause conflict. And of course, there’s a deal for public sex.

I described the tone as: Sexy, clashing wills, preconception, embarrassment

Wickedly Good features two characters who are at the opposite spectrum of just about everything. Aston is a position of power, older than Gemma and bound to his mother’s wishes. Gemma is the housekeeper’s daughter with her life ahead of her yet she’s clinging to a foolish childhood crush on a first-class jerk. The primary hook was the mistaken identity.

I described the tone as: Sexy, misconception, mistaken identity, social classes, family obligation

And I got amazing covers for both of these. I’m not sure how much of that was attributed to what I’d entered for tone, but there you have it.

Hopefully this will help someone next time they’re staring at a blank form with no clue how to fill it out!

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