Would you be afraid if you were alone in an isolated cemetery at night? Perhaps, if there were also a full moon, you might be a little anxious? After all, you are alone. You are on your own. No help is available--no police, no rescue personnel, no paramedics. You are isolated. There is no one near. No one to come to your aid or even to hear you scream (should you scream). The full moon is bright, but it, too, is distant and its light, rather than comforting or reassuring, seems eerie. It illuminates shadows, but it is not bright enough to light up the night.
The preceding paragraph is not intended to set the mood of a scene. Instead, it is meant merely to identify elements of a setting which could be the bases of such a paragraph or passage and to suggest why these elements might be frightening. Notice the commonality among them: the external, natural object or phenomenon (an isolated cemetery, darkness, a full moon) are linked to emotional states (fear, anxiety, distress). With this in mind, this analysis might lead to a passage such as this:
The sun had set, and a slight breeze stirred the leaves on the few scraggly trees that stood sentinel over the headstones and crypts of the isolated rural cemetery. High in the darkness of the sky, a full moon leered down upon the graveyard. The darkness seemed to press down upon Kim as if it were a heavy, hostile thing, a force that meant to crush her, and the absolute silence of the distant city of the dead was unsettling.
Kim felt not merely alone; she felt lost, wraithlike, as if she were herself the ghost of one of the corpses interred within the neglected, overgrown grounds. There was nothing to fear. She knew that--and, yet, she was afraid. She was terribly afraid. Her isolation was total. There was nothing and no one for miles in any direction. If she should fall or lose her way, if thugs were to happen along and discover her--or, worse, if the dead were to rise; if revenants were to return; if--she laughed at the
absurdity of these ideas, born as they were of unreasoning emotion, of blind fear akin to panic.
She’d meant for her laughter to dispel the sense of panic that had risen within her, for no reason, but the sound of it seemed raucous and forced, strained somehow, and false. It was anything but heartening.
Nor was the light of the moon, for it was not bright enough to light the night; its radiance did nothing more than to show the shadows of furtive things darting and scurrying among the gravestones and crypts.
Rats? Wolves? Worse, nightmarish things? Kim’s imagination suggested several creatures possible, if at all, only in hell. It had been a mistake to come here alone, she thought, especially at night. It had been a mistake to come here at all.
Somewhere in the darkness, among the graves, a twig snapped. Or a bone. Or a spine. Kim froze, staring wide eyed, straining to see, to hear, to think.
Clouds obscured the moon, and the darkness of the night was complete.