Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Color of Writing



This probably sounds like a weird question, but do you have a favorite writing color? I mean, is there a color that you use frequently in your fiction? Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Cimmerian, often used “black” in his fantasy and horror fiction. Some say he used it too often, but when you read his stories you don’t really notice the frequency of the word, you notice the mood that the word helps create. Do you have a color that you depend on in your own work? And is it the same as your favorite color in the world?

Black, with all of its synonyms, is probably my favorite color word in writing, although I think I use “dark” more often than “black” itself. I just like the sound of it a little better when it combines with other words. But in real life my favorite color is red and all it’s shades, especially the shades that darken toward maroon.

I certainly use shades of red a lot in my writing as well, partially because I write a lot of horror and adventure fiction and there’s always the color of blood to describe. Of course, words like dark and black and shadow appear in horror fiction a lot as well. In fact, I wonder if the use of color in fiction is genre dependent. Would a writer of ocean adventures use a lot of blue? Does pink actually appear in many romance novels? Is black the color for horror?

Like with many of my posts, I don’t have the answer. Just the question. What do you think?

12 comments:

Sidney said...

I have never given that much thought about the colors I use, but often I believe I have used weather and weather events either as plot elements or as a device for setting mood, though I hope not to the point of cliche.

I used rain a lot in my first book because bad weather seemed an effective backdrop to the supernatural action and was also fairly realistic for the Central Louisiana setting.

I used an ice storm as a major plot event in Blood Hunter which seemed to serve mood and symbolic purposes.

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, sounds like a weather related post might be worthwhile as well.

Michelle's Spell said...

Interesting question -- I tend toward black and white, white particularly for death and emptiness, black because it's just so perfect. And red -- lots of blood imagery. Love blood!

H.E.Eigler said...

Forgive me if this posts more than once - blogger seems to be hiccupping.


I realized a while ago that I had a bad habit. Everything was grey. Now that I've grown as a writer, I understand that I don't need to describe every characters eye color. But until I reached that understanding it seemed they all had grey eyes. And the sky was grey, and their clothes were grey etc.

I never stopped to wonder why I chose this color. Like Howard, maybe I was hoping to generate an overall mood? Maybe because grey lends itself to the mystical and mysterious? It's that area between black and white, where we aren't quite sure what will happen. I think of Gandalf’s robe, stormy seas, rolling clouds, a cat that blends in and out of the shadows. I still use the color predominately in my writing but I try and weave it in without being obvious about it. I don’t write mystery, but I never like it when things are certain either. Great post, you really got me thinking!

Sheila said...

I use things like bright and illuminating and angelic glow alot.

Kate S said...

Interesting question, Charles. I had to stop and think about it, then realized that I use grey a lot, and it seems all my characters have either dark brown or hazel eyes.

As for pink, now that you mention it, pink and red do show up a lot in my romantic works. Hmm... will have to start paying more attention to this.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I use color in some description, but sometimes as a motif with which to announce theme. Bradbury did this with Something Wicked This Way Comes. He constantly used shades of black and dark blue, along with colors associated with winter, to denote Jim Nightshade and the world of the Autumn People, whereas Will Halloway was given mention of colors associated summer, such as gold, yellow, straw, etc.

Erik Donald France said...

Hard to beat black and red, noir and rouge. Which reminds me that it's Edgar Allan Poe's and Janis Joplin's and Robert E. Lee's birthday tomorrow. Great purveyors of black and red,
all :->

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

teal, baby. always teal. and i spell gray with an e. the sky in chicago is usually the color of horseradish. and the false dawn in my characters' dreams are all teal.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Variations of red have appeared in my fiction. Now you have me guessing as to why I've chosen these colors. Hmmm.

Danny Tagalog said...

I'd like to see a pink themed horror...

Clifford said...

I used to watercolor paint and my favorite color was Grumbacher's "hooker green". I even did a number of momocromatic pieces using it. Unfortunately, I could never work it into my fiction.