Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.


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Symbolism is important in writing, that much is sure. Colors are one of the easiest ways to use it. Everyone needs colors, right? Hair color, eye color, clothing, houses, plants, skies, etc. How often do you read something and the villian has black beedy eyes or a hero/heroine with strikingly bright or dark or light eyes?

Colorful Love

This should be your writing my friends! Deliciously colorful! Yum.

Think of Harry Potter. Dumbledore was white-haired (albeit that happens when you’re 157 years old) and had twinkling blue eyes. White and blue don’t spell evil to me. Voldemort, however, has serpentine scarlet eyes. Red can be associated with blood and what does Voldemort love more than spilling just that! Especially of the Order and muggles–yum.

Colors, of course, aren’t limited to hair and eyes. Think back to high school–or your classmates if you are in high school–and remember the way everyone dresses. You could point out who was in what clique, even if you couldn’t see the brands or the styles. Goths wear black, purple, sanguine reds, maybe even a cobalt blue. Preppy girls wear pink, blue, yellow, red–any color of the rainbow.

(These are generalizations. Not all people in these cliques wear these colors. These colors aren’t only associated with these cliques. 🙂)

And now colors in nature! Here’s where the symbolism really begins. For one, think of roses. Everyone knows red roses are for romance, black is for mourning, yellow is for friendship, etc. The list could go on forever.

Naturally, certain colors are associated with certain emotions. Deep blue can make us depressed. Red can make us lustful or it can represent hate. Green calms and reminds us of nature. Green can also make things appear dank and moldy. There’s always a connotation for everyone for every color.

So! Make sure your colors count. Should those flowers be red? Should they be white? What about the villian’s eyes? Are they going to be a gloomy blue, or maybe black? Blood red? And that neglected child we all love? Plain brown hair and some bright blue or green or hazel eyes, perhaps.

Colors should be your best friend in writing–along with adjectives and verbs and nouns and similes and metaphors–oops, getting a bit too excited there. Colors are an easy and safe fall-back to add a bit more detail to your writing.

Bring on those colors!


Written by Devin Bond

October 7, 2010 at 5:30 am

Posted in Symbolism, Writing

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