Tendrils of fog slouched along the road and pavement, disappearing silently down narrow back alleys and into the dark. Only hours before, the same street had been a thoroughfare of bustling nightlife as students had piggy-backed their drunken retreat homeward, watched from a distance by sober-faced police officers. Now, in the earliest moments of dawn, the street was silent, eerie, and still.

So what do you think? I have to confess - I’m really not very good, I don’t think, at ‘writing the atmosphere’. Of getting to the nitty-gritty of the mood. Of, y’know, doing a Thomas Hardy. A few years ago I was lucky enough to have Sarah Hall (winner of the BBC national short story award 2013) as a mentor during a week-long writing course in Oxford, and she worked very hard at opening my eyes to the best way of ‘writing the landscape’ (I didn’t get that one either) and ‘writing atmosphere’, using Thomas Hardy as a fine example. Having tried and failed, I later changed tack and gave Wuthering Heights a go, and I have to say, those endless descriptions of an endless moor did indeed make me feel cold and shivery, unless of course I was just bored stiff and over-tired
So this blog time, I though
t I’d write about Creating Atmosphere.
But where to start? Well, I guess, from either an imagined place/situation or setting, or a real one - which to all intents and purposes is Memory.
I watched Glen swaying aimlessly back and forth on my swing, his toes just cuffing the dust-bowl beneath, totally ignoring the fact that it was my birthday. Warm Spring sunshine bounced off his thick brown hair and he nonchalantly sucked on a sugary lolly. As a gentle hum of insects serenaded this act of defiance I felt a rage begin bubbling inside of me until I thought I would burst.
John fumbled with and then dropped his car keys. He wished he hadn’t. The isolated car park was deathly silent, with only a weak wash of orange glow from a distant streetlight half-heartedly pervading the darkness. He felt very alone. Except he knew he wasn’t.

In the above snippets have used a few tools that I hope demonstrate how to create atmosphere:
Time - Both Glen and John have been given clear time zones - Glen in a garden in the Spring, John in the dark, so either at night/or in the winter, or both. 
Sensory observations/Weather - Glen’s feet scuff the space beneath the swing, but it’s dusty, so the weather is dry, and warm Spring sunshine brings brightness to the scene. John on the other hand, has little light to feel safe by, and his intuition tells him he is in danger.
Description - not too heavy on either, I hope. Glen swaying aimlessly is meant to convey a sense of unhurried composure; John’s fumbling indicates nervousness, as does his self-reproachment when he drops his keys.
First person viewpoint - in John’s case, we feel for his vulnerability when he realises that he’s not alone, whereas the birthday girl's rage clearly indicates that Glen doesn’t give a flying foo-foo, as he ignores the party preferring to sit alone in the garden on a swing.
Not quite as good as Mr Hardy, but better than I was!