On Writing: Color Your World

Color is an important part of life, and we should honor that importance in the stories we write. Although we can simply name any color for our characters’ bedrooms or the clothes they wear, by choosing a specific color, we can add layers of meaning to our stories and even to the personalities of our characters. We can add mood, symbolism, theme, even emotion. But first, we need to know what the colors mean.

What Colors Mean:

Black — Evil, falsehood, error, grief, despair, death.
Blue — Chastity, loyalty, fidelity, faith, modesty, eternity, immmortality.
Green — Love, joy, abundance, hope, youth, mirth, gladness, resurrection, spring.
Purple — Temperance, royalty
Red — Magnanimity, fortitude
White — Purity, truth, innocence, hope.
Yellow — Faith, constancy, wisdom, glory, jealousy, inconsistancy.

What Your Favorite Color Reveals About You:

Red — Ambitious, energetic, extroverted
Pink — Affectionate, compassionate, romantic
Maroon — Sensuous, friendly, emotional
Orange — Fun-loving, action-oriented, competent
Peach — Gentle, charitable, enthusiastic
Yellow — Optimistic, expressive, people-oriented
Mint green — Modest, insightful, kind-hearted
Apple green — Innovative, adventuresome, self-motivated
Green — Benevolent, service-oriented, scientific
Teal — Idealistic, faithful, sentimental
Light blue — creative, perceptive, imaginative
Dark Blue — Intelligent, responsible, self-reliant
Mauve — Delicate, reserved, sensitive
Purple — Intuitive, spiritual, insightful
Beige — Practical, well-adjusted, steadfast
Brown — Down to earth, honest, supportive
Black —  Disciplined, strong-willed, opinionated
White —   Individualistic, lonely, low self-esteem
Gray —  Passive, noncommittal, stressed
Silver —  Honorable, chivalrous, romantic
Gold —  Idealistic, noble, successful

More about color:

What Colors to Wear to Enhance an Image
The Meaning of Your Car Color

Do you pay attention to color in your stories? If so, how do you use color? Do you ever use color for any reason other than simply to describe things?

What the Color of your Vehicle Says About You (Or the Character in Your Book)

In my green article for St. Patrick’s Day, I wrote, “Owning a dark green vehicle supposedly means that you are traditional, trusty, and well balanced, but what it really means is that you are thrifty. Who makes dark green cars anymore? If you own one, it’s probably been a while since you bought a new vehicle.”

So for all you smug people who don’t own a green vehicle, I thought I’d tell you what the color of your car says about you.

Yes, your fiery orange-red sports car says exactly what you think it does: you’re sexy, speedy, high-energy, dynamic. Before you preen, go out and look at your red car. Most red cars on the road are more of a kidney bean color. Is yours? If so, it means you are dynamic and energetic but are losing your fire. You really want to be have that orange-red sports car personality, but you just can’t quite make it. You’re too busy, too old, or too tired. For all the good your red car does you, it might as well be brown.

A silver car supposedly says that you are cool and elegant. The only problem is that since silver was the most popular car color for several years, almost everyone owns one, like your neighbors who don’t mow their lawns and don’t put their garbage cans away after the garbage has been picked up. Real cool. Very elegant.

White supposedly means you are fastidious, but what it really means is that you wanted that fiery orange-red sports car, but you drive like a bat out of hell or like batman in his batmobile, (depending on your age group) and you were afraid that you’d get too many tickets so you chose the less conspicuous white. Good thinking. On average, while drivers in red cars do not get more tickets than anyone else, orange-red sports car drivers do, and let’s face it, they deserve them. Who drives the speed limit in a car like that?

A light blue vehicle supposedly means that you’re calm and quiet, but what it really means is that you went to the showroom to buy a sunshine yellow car to show how joyful and young-at-heart you are, but they only had marine blue, and since you really are a calm, quiet person who doesn’t like to make waves, you bought it.

A purple vehicle means you are creative, individualistic, original, and perhaps it does. It could also mean you’re too old to care what anyone thinks of you.

A black vehicle says you are empowered, not easily manipulated, love elegance, and you appreciate the classics. It’s also says that you are mysterious or that you have two sides to your personality; it’s the favored car of both clergy and gangsters.

A dark blue vehicle says you are credible, confident, dependable. And you drive too much because you always get stuck with the carpool.

A gray vehicle says you are sober, corporate, practical. Boring. But if that gray car is charcoal with sparkles, you still have flashes of brilliance and charisma.

An orange vehicle says you are fun loving, talkative, fickle, trendy. A yellow-green one says you are trendy, whimsical, lively. And you know it’s true. Only fun and whimsical cars come in these colors: Volkswagen bugs and little sportscars.

A tan vehicle means that you’re timeless, basic, simple, but it also means you have something to hide. Maybe bad driving habits? Or that you never wash your car?

A gold vehicle says is that you love comfort and will pay for it; it also says that you’re intelligent, and you must be — you were smart enough to come read my article!

And a brown vehicle supposedly means you’re down-to-earth but who are you trying to kid? If you really cared about the earth, you wouldn’t have bought that big old gas-guzzler.

So what color of car do I drive? I’m sorry, but I don’t know you well enough to answer such a personal question.

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On Writing: Gifts from the Muses

When I begin to get immersed in a creating a book, whether by writing or simply by working it out in my mind, I look twice at everything that comes my way, wondering if it is a gift from the muses.

Today I received a begging letter from The Nature Conservancy, which described the Karner blue butterfly, and what they are doing to preserve it. I tossed the letter into the trash, then immediately fished it out. I’m familiar with blue wasps, and recently I saw a huge blue bee, but I had never seen a blue butterfly, and the thought captured my imagination.

I could see it, a scene in my new novel — a savannah of blue lupines, clouds of blue butterflies, a swarm of blue bees, a few blue wasps daubing in the mud. My characters would be filled with awe as they made their way through the blue, but it would be so strange that they would also be fearful.

Of course, like all gods and goddesses, the muses are fickle and love to play tricks on us humans. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time I finished writing my book and got it published, blue would have been done to death. The nine muses will be out there somewhere in the great blue yonder, laughing at me and my gullibility in thinking I was original.

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Creating a Character — Part IV

In an earlier post, I suggested using the Luscher color test as a means of profiling a character. To see if it would work, I had Chip, the hero of my work in progress, take the test at www.colorquiz.com.

I know enough about Chip and about colors to figure out what his choices might be. Green signifies a stable and balanced character, so that was Chip’s first choice. Blue, signifying tranquility, was his second. Brown, signifying a down-to-earth character was his third. Gray, signifying a preference for a safe, secure and balanced existence was next. Magenta, orange, and yellow were a toss-up since he didn’t particularly care for any of them, and black, signifying negativity, was his last choice.

This was the result of the test:

His Existing Situation: Uneasy and insecure in the existing situation. Needs greater security and a more affectionate environment, or a situation imposing less physical strain.

His Stress Sources: Wishes to be independent, unhampered, and free from any limitation or restriction, other than those which he imposes of himself or by his own choice and decision.

His Restrained Characteristics: Egocentric (self-conscious) and therefore quick to take offense. Wants to broaden his fields of activity and insists that his hopes and ideas are realistic. Distressed by the fear that he may be prevented from doing what he wants; needs both peaceful conditions and quiet reassurance to restore his confidence.

His Desired Objective: Needs a peaceful environment. Wants release from stress, and freedom from conflicts or disagreement. Takes pains to control the situation and its problems by proceeding cautiously. Has sensitivity of feeling and a fine eye for detail.

His Actual Problem: Does not wish to be involved in differences of opinion, contention or argument, preferring to be left in peace.

If you have been following Chip’s development, you can see that this is an interesting and accurate profile. I might have all of my characters take it, especially the minor characters who don’t need a full character sketch. Feel free to do the same.

Coloring Your Way out of Writer’s Block

How color vision actually works is still a mystery, but there is no mystery about the profound effect color has on human physiology. Red tends to raise blood pressure, increase pulse rate, and excite brain waves. Blue tends to have the reverse effect, and green tends to be neutral.

So, if you are having writer’s block, try a little color therapy. It can’t hurt; at the very least it will give you something besides your computer screen or those same old walls to stare at. And it has the benefit of being exceedingly simple. All you have to do is choose your color from the following list, wear it, hang it on the wall, find a knickknack or a bouquet of flowers that color to put on your desk, then focus on it.

Purple will boost your creativity, and help stimulate your intuitive abilities.

Yellow can help you feel optimistic if your blockage is making you anxious and depressed. It can also induce enlightenment, which is what you are looking for.

Dark blue encourages meditative thinking, so it’s especially helpful if are having difficulty focusing.

Green helps promote harmony if your inability to write is making you irritable.

Red will energize you if you’re too tired to think.

Even if the color therapy doesn’t bring about the effect you wish, playing around with all those colors will give your mind a rest from writing, and perhaps when you return to your keyboard, the problem will have resolved itself.

If not, do what I do: go for a walk.

Colorizing our Characters

Because colors have meaning, a character’s favorite color can tell us a lot about him or her. Red for an ambitious extrovert. Pink for an affectionate, compassionate person. Yellow for an optimistic artist. Green for a benevolent humanist. Blue for a cool, confident conservative. Purple for an intuitive, spiritually oriented person. Brown for a down-to-earth type.

I am looking for new ways to add color to my novels besides the obvious such as “She wore a low-cut red dress,” or “He loved the way the mud looked against the blue of his pickup.” I’d like to be able to give the feeling of a person by using color, perhaps by showing what he or she sees. This might be an interesting way of giving point-of-view characters their own voices. The extrovert would see the red tulips, the humanist would admire the grass, and the conservative would notice the sky.

Overdone, it would probably seem to be merely a listing of colors, but used with a gentle touch, perhaps the reader would feel more connected to the characters, seeing them in living color instead of indistinct black and white images.

I would like to think so anyway. I did the research on the meaning of colors for another novel, and the material is just sitting there waiting to be used.