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?

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.