Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Because You're Worth It...


Coloring in. Literally.
We've all read books where some inanimate element becomes almost a living thing, a vital character as it were.
Margery Allingham does that with fog in Tiger in the Smoke.
Have been re-reading several of Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince/Dragon Star series.
Noted that she took the aura theory of an individual's colors, combined that with the powers attributed to various jewels and made them a magician's tool. Her books are bright with vivid color.
Colors have always been a code.
A spectrum of symbolism.
In the Book of Numbers, circa fifth century BC, blue was more than celestial, it was protective. T.S. Eliot makes mention of "...blue of Mary's color."
Black can indicate power, death. White, purity - and death. Red, courage, passion. Color's meanings and the superstitions attached thereto vary from era and culture and include every possible prism of human experience. Health, commerce, faith, love, war.
Witches have green eyes. Red hair denotes a temper. First-Foot at the New Year must be a dark-haired male. Royal purple. The Green Man. Snow White. Red letters. Blue ribbons. Green lights. White nights. On and on.
Color seems an atavistic imperative. Quasi-scientific methods explore its use in fashion, therapy, decorating.
I've noticed that the speed-freak on the 401, seven times out of ten, drives a red muscle car...
They say that gentlemen prefer...
The Blues...
Color seems an atavistic imperative.
In spite of the minimalist's abjuration of adjectives in favor of black and white, perhaps one should check one's work-in-progress for the use of it and get out your crayolas and color your world.
Do you make much use of color in your work?

26 comments:

kmfrontain said...

Colours are such an easy tool for fantasy stories, they're almost cliché. Some would say they are cliché, and maybe that's why we occasionally see fantasy with music as the tool, or numbers. But even those have been done and done. It's how they're done that makes any of these "vital characters" special.

EA Monroe said...

Where would I be without color in my writing and work?! Color is a vital element. The graphic on your great post reminds me of Synaesthesia. What would it be like to hear music or words as colors and patterns or to taste words? But, sometimes a writer may go to the extreme of describing a character as having raven hair or blue eyes one time too many. (Jeez! I am guilty as charged!) BTW, "running with the chisel" was hilarious, Bernita!

jason evans said...

I could probably use more. I appreciate the reminder, B!

Jen said...

I love using color in description. For me, it's very important to be able to "see" a scene. Color is one of the few things that has a universal understanding. If I say he has blue eyes, most people understand me. If I say his eyes were shaped like cat's eyes, there are several versions of that visual.
What I think is interesting is the Hollywood take on color in titles. Most movies with the word "Blue" are not successful. I didn't believe it. The only movie I could think of that WAS successful was "Blue Lagoon" and I think it flopped at the theaters.
Bernita, can you think of a movie with "Blue" in it that was a hit?

Bernita said...

Color is a writer's tool too, Karen. Think it's a necessity beyond cliche.

Loved that line of yours, EA! The picture is a Master Jiang painting.

Color can also be subtle and inferential, Jason. I think you do that well.

Bernita said...

Sorry, Jen, I can't - because I don't pay a lot of attention to movies.
Lack of success probably has something to do with general societal associations with the color...intellectual as in "blue stocking", sad as in "feeling blue," etc.
On the other hand, more specific associations may work, as in "NYPD Blue."

Ric said...

Colors bring visibility - they create the picture in fewer words.

white picket fence - immediately draws the house in "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Leave It To Beaver" - creates a time and place.

Orange leaves falling - autumn, the coming storm, the end of summer

black of night - ominous, foreboding

The corner of the library was dark, very dark. He had never seen such a black before, resisting any attempt to let even the thought of light within. So deep, it gave one pause, making him wonder if he really needed to go closer.

Carla said...

Bright colours were a way of displaying wealth and social status, so I use them for that. They may also say something about a character's tastes and personality. I'm not as comfortable with colours that aren't chosen, like red hair = fiery temper. If I ever have a red-haired heroine, I think I'll deliberately make her very calm and placid.

December Quinn said...

Gee...I don't, very much...

*runs off to look for colors and add more*

Bernita said...

Yep. Very useful, Ric, and their associative words, like "dark".

Think I would be temped to also, Carla.Just to stick my tongue out at the "humors" source of that cliche.

You don't, December? "The Black Dragon?"

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hmmm...I can honestly say that other than distinguishing hair or eye colors, I haven't employed color at all! Must think about this!

Jaye Wells said...

Funny you should ask this question today, Bernita. I just figured out a way that red is going to play a huge role in my next book. I'm almost giddy because I don't think what I'm planning has been done before. Yay, red!

jlb said...

Indeed! Colors are important in both my written and visual art, and I love to use colors as both symbols and signposts... something to catch a reader's/viewer's eye and get them looking towards another point in the story/image.

Bernita said...

You may have used it more often than you think, Bonnie.

Good stuff, Jaye! Red is "hot," visual, vital. A great thread to weave through your novel!

Exactly, JIB. Can have a strong subliminal effect on the reader.

December Quinn said...

You don't, December? "The Black Dragon?"

Hmmm...well, that's true, because I do use color--speicifcally, the colors of clothing and bedcurtains--to give insight to both the H/h's characters, and it's very strongly used in one particular scene.

But my current WIP...aside from talking about colors of specific rooms and the obvious (dying green of the grass in fall, golden sunlit river, etc) I don't think I've done much at all. So I do need to check it.

anna said...

Do you make much use of color in your work?

I think so yes.
Excellent post & a wonderful reminder for us all. I wish I could use smell as much as I use colour.
Love Love Love the graphic!!

normiekins said...

my work life is simply black and white.....when i get home...it becomes wild blue yonder.....

Bernita said...

Thank you, Anna.
I have to consciously add smell to scenes... probably as a result of having turned off that sense when I began changing diapers.

Sounds like harlequin days and motley nights, Normiekins!

Shesawriter said...

Not so much with color, but I do have a thing for weather. I try to make it a character in itself to show mood and tone. I do use color in my work but not to the point of making it a character like I do weather. I do recall one of my heroes getting ... er... excited everytime he saw the color pink. :-)

Bernita said...

That sort of semi-personification is very effective, Tanya.

I suspect that Jason, Bonnie and December use color more often than they think they do.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cyn said...

i love silver.
and variations of red,
esp in my chinese-based
story.

ps. just read your comment.
yay red indeed!! =D

Bernita said...

I love silver as well, Cyn.

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