Friday, March 6, 2009

Coloring your prose



Regal overseeing a world of white. Blue sky. Sable fur. Pink tongue. Black nose. Gray trees.

In the last couple of books I've read, color was an integral part of the story, flavor, and imagery. 

In The Book Thief, Death classifies things by color. For example: White--the snow. Black--the darkest moment before the dawn. Red--the burning sky and blood.

In Book of a Thousand Days (rereading for a book club meeting) the narrator often fixates on certain colors. Blue--the Eternal sky, yellow--the sunrise, gold--the sunset, silver--the sword against the blue sky and the color of celebration.

How often do you bring in color to your writing? Is it essential to the story or just something that decorates the background? Does it make your work richer, deeper, more meaningful? Are you a fan of color?

26 comments:

Justus M. Bowman said...

I'm still working on detail in general, but I think both color and a lack of color could be powerful in the hands of a skilled writer.

lotusgirl said...

skilled writer being the operative words right? :)

Natalie said...

Love color, and I enjoy using all the senses if I can. In one of my books, smell is a HUGE deal. And the MC explains most everything in reference to it (she's a dragon in disguise and gems have alluring scents).

In another, sounds play a big part. So I try to emphasize that in my descriptions. With my artist in another project, color is very central, since it's important to her.

lotusgirl said...

Those sound really interesting. In the book I'm working on scent is a big deal. Not as much as it was originally (edits are killing me) but important nonetheless.

JaneyV said...

First of all - I love your dog. He's wonderfully wolf-like. And the name Regal really captures his demeanour.

As for colour - I feel it's essential. Being able to imagine and therefore inhabit the book you are reading is part of the magic. I think that colour and texture help the text to bleed into your psyche. In my WIP Nature is very important. The book starts with her living in the city and her life is toxic. When she moves to the countryside the colours seep in and her life moves in the direction of healing. Green is particularly important. It's a symbol for life and the Earth.

Actually now that you've drawn my attention to it I need to make that connection more deliberate.

Thanks Lois!

lotusgirl said...

Thanks, Janey, and Regal thanks you too.

I'm glad I was able to help you. I love your book premise. It sounds like the sort of book I would enjoy.

Lady Glamis said...

You know me. I use color a lot. Symbolically, mostly. The Breakaway relies on it, but I need to make it stronger and more obvious. Great question! My answer is yes, I use it all the time, and it adds depth and meaning. I'm a huge fan!

PJ Hoover said...

How often? Probably not enough. But color is so powerful, especially when unique.

lotusgirl said...

Glam, I did know that about you. Love the colors in The Breakaway.

PJ, Yep. I don't use it enough either. That's why I'm mulling it over.

Kelly H-Y said...

Love color ... and I need to remember to use it more! I love the picture of your dog ... what a great shot from a great angle!

lotusgirl said...

Thanks, Kelly. I need to remember more color too.

Litgirl01 said...

Made me think of Holden Caulfield and red. :-) I make my students do an exercise: I think, I feel, I see, I hear, I taste, I smell. They go to a special place and describe it using all of the senses. I do this sometimes...it helps!

lotusgirl said...

Sounds like a great exercise. I've heard that there should be something for at least one of the senses on each page of a novel. That's something I need to work on.

spinregina said...

Interesting. Colour is HUGE for me, in my Real Life, but now that you mention it I'm not sure it figures that much in my writing. The book, at least. But the colours in my world, my house, are super important to me and you should have been here for the row about the charcoal paint in the family room!

beth said...

I just typed in that I don't use color much, except for the eyes and hair and grass and cows and side of the house and...gee, I guess I do use color!

lotusgirl said...

Kristen, I'm very into color everywhere I find it. I would have LOVED to be a fly on the charcoal wall... : )

Beth, I think when we describe we use color whether we think about it or not.

Rebekah said...

Lois, I just discovered your blog, and I have to say that I'm thrilled! I love it. I'm enjoying reading your posts and wishing that your family still lived in Chattanooga.
To comment on your color post, I have to say that I love color. Who doesn't? I'm just learning to use color in my writing and, WOW! What a difference it makes! Most of my favorite authors use color often yet skillfully. It can be tricky to learn but is powerful in my opinion.

lotusgirl said...

Rebekah!!! Wow. I'm so glad you found me. We really miss the mountain! Such a wonderful place and so many great friends.

Color is one of those things that puts me in the scene. When we use it, it makes our writing better. More vivid.

Suzanne Casamento said...

I'm definitely a fan of color and use it as often as I can.

Funny you wrote about color today. I don't know if you visit Rena's blog, but she just wrote about color too. Check it out!

http://renajjones.blogspot.com/

Alexa said...

I love colour, I have loads of notes scribbled over my WIP about adding it in because it works really well int he first chapter and then I kind of dropped off using it :)

I loved how it was used in The Book Theif that was amazing!

Rena said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. And thanks to Suzanne as well for bringing it to your attention. Funny how we picked color as the theme yesterday. What an AWESOME picture!!!

lotusgirl said...

Alexa, It's easy to lose focus on some of those details when we are writing. That's what revisions are for.

Rena, Thanks, photography is one of my other great loves.

Crimogenic said...

I fixated on color, especially when describing something that's caught one of my MC's eyes. But otherwise, maybe I don't use it enough... :P

lotusgirl said...

Crimey, It's all a matter of personal preference as to how much you use. I like it, but it can be overdone.

giddymomof6 said...

I Love color. I like to emphasize it a lot, but not to the point where it takes away from the story--just allows you that bit of reality to actually place you within it. I LOVE these pics too! You're so good! Jenni

lotusgirl said...

Thanks, Jenni!