Monday, May 6, 2019

Creating an "Atmospheric" Novel by Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

If you’ve been around the bookish community long enough, chances are you’ve heard someone refer to a book as “atmospheric.” It’s most always a compliment, usually included in a list of flowery adjectives that paint the book in question as the Next Great American Novel . . . But what exactly does it mean? And how can we, as authors, give our own writing that illusive atmosphere?

One day, I grabbed a dictionary to look up the word “atmospheric.” (Okay, actually I googled it) and found a bit more information.


• creating a distinctive mood, typically of romance, mystery, or nostalgia

Aah, that makes sense—a mood. A feeling. A sense of place.

But why limit the definition? Why does “atmospheric” usually refer to books in genres such as romance, mystery, and fantasy? Why does it often signify a darker, heavier tone?

Why don’t we, as authors, go the extra mile to write atmospheric stories no matter the genre?

By writing atmospheric novels, we are creating a deeper mood—a more distinct sense of place—that will speak to our readers and make for a richer reading experience.

My Tradewinds series takes place in the beautiful state of Hawaii—as far from a dark and moody location as one can get—yet I strive to create books that are full of “atmosphere” and lush descriptions that place my reader in the middle of the story. In return, I’ve noticed many reviews which highlight this aspect of my writing.

Readers turn to a book in order to escape the doldrums of everyday life. The more absorbed in the story they can become, the better. What better way to get absorbed in a story than to read a truly transportive novel?

Want to write a more atmospheric story? Here are some tips:

• World building—it’s not just for fantasy! Whether you’re writing about a real place or a fictional one, flesh out those details! If you’ve chosen to create an imaginary locale, ask yourself questions about the area—climate, style of architecture, cultural quirks, inhabitants, etc. If you decide to write about a real-life location, do the same thing (this might require an in-person visit) and discover what makes that place stand out.

• Stick with one tone. If you’re writing a story that takes place in a grim manor house amid the English moors, you probably don’t want your main character—or any characters, for that matter—to be wearing pink! Unless you’re intentionally breaking the mold (and you should do this sparingly!) take care to not muddy your mood with contrasting imagery.

• The little details say the most! If you’re trying to infuse your story with joy and hope, don’t just make the sun shine brightly—have rays of sunshine dance over the surface of the water or glint off a character’s hair. Choose a POV character with a unique perspective who can “help” you create the right atmosphere.

Creating an Atmospheric Novel by @writer__taylor #seriouslywrite


Sand Castle Dreams
Sometimes we must face our greatest fears in order to become whole again.

Returning to Maui after one of the most challenging summers of her life, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is ready for things to return to normal—or, at least, a new normal. But even though she and her sister are back on the island they love, nothing is the same since they left for Boston a few months ago. Olive’s friend Jazz is hiding a secret—possibly something even worse than the cancer diagnosis she received earlier in the year. Can Olive ever stop running from memories of all they’ve lost?

When their friend Brander suggests Jazz attends the church’s teen support group, Olive thinks it’s a great idea—until Jazz insists that Olive join her. While the group is the perfect place for Olive to share her struggles, she wants nothing to do with it. Instead, grief threatens to roll over her like the ocean waves, and tiny fibs turn into looming secrets. When a scruffy puppy and one viral video send another storm rolling into Olive’s life, she ends up face-to-face with her biggest fear. And the only way to make it out of the tempest is to go straight through.


Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of contemporary YA fiction. Homeschooled since kindergarten, she is a proud homebody who suffers from the rare–yet always severe–case of wanderlust.

Although she dreams of traveling to many different places, her favorite destination thus far (aside from her charming hometown in Oregon) is Lahaina, Hawaii. Taylor was so enamored with this tropical town that she became determined to write about it, hence her debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, the first in a series of books set in Hawaii.

A lover of literature since birth, Taylor found her love of writing fueled under the instruction of Andrew Pudewa and the other teachers at the Institute for Excellence in Writing, where she now works as an editor for their magazine.

When she isn’t writing, Taylor enjoys cooking, drawing, and taking long walks in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

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