The world is full of color and the mention of a brown beetle, a gold necklace or a turquoise pendant, bring immediate pictures to mind. Color in fiction can enhance and enliven a story.
Color can Raise Questions
Imagine a bride in a bright pink wedding gown, a Ferrari painted yellow or a fire engine painted purple. Introduce them into a story and the reader will immediately want to know why the color is not the norm.
Using Color to Set a Scene
Color can be used to create mood and atmosphere. Think of a gazebo painted white with delicate pink flowers threaded through trellises. A perfect setting for a romantic encounter. Conversely, a night club with smoky gray and muted black decor is an ideal place for shady dealings. A rebellious teen may be characterized by a deep purple bedroom.
Using Color in Clothing
This is similar to scene-setting and has been used for decades by movie makers. The crooks wear black and the hero wears white or a light color. Color can also be used to define a person. Think of an elderly woman with a penchant for pink scarves or a child who will only wear red-superhero outfits.
Color Has Endless Variation
Each color comes in a wide range of tints, shades and tones. It can be useful to understand the difference when referring to an item being a delicate shade or tone.
- Tints are formed by mixing white to a color
- Tones are formed by mixing a color with its complement (The color directly across on the color wheel)
- Shades are formed by adding black to a color
Create a Color File
Open a new document on the computer and entitle it ‘Colors’. In it, list the common colors: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple etc. Then next to them list descriptions and connected words that spring to mind. Keep adding to the list and read it through before writing a story. Here are some ideas for the color cream: antique bridal gown, warm ivory, lace, Siamese cats, clotted cream and jam, bales of silk, delicate rose petals, mothballs and age.
Don’t Overuse Color
It can be easy to overdo description and this includes the use of color. Often, a passing mention or hint of color is enough to stir the reader’s senses and imagination.
- The river coiled across the desert like an emerald serpent
- The model wore a strapless dress in bleached bone
- The tulip was the shade of pure sunlight
Color adds variety, depth and texture to a story and it is a valuable tool in fiction. With skilful use, it can make the difference between a mediocre and excellent piece of writing.