Evoking Colour

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 Today’s lesson was all about the use of colour in writing, which wasn’t a huge surprise given last week’s homework. The discussion centred around the amount of symbolism that colours can carry. People automatically assign emotion, gender, political leanings, religious or class bias, and so on. It’s extremely pervasive, because we’re such visual creatures, and that kind of strong automatic reaction can be a really useful thing to trigger in a reader. You can make your audience think certain things, feel a certain way, without having to state it explicitly through the judicious use of colour.

Bear in mind, though, that those associations change depending on what time period and society you’re in. Red in Revolutionary France, for example, had a very particular meaning. Orange in Dublin for the last couple of decades, likewise. Some cultures – such as the Japanese – associate white with death, whereas in Western society it’s more usually black. Pink is commonly associated with girls but that’s a relatively modern development. You see where I’m going with this. Pictures may be able to paint a thousand words, and that evoked subtext is wonderful stuff, but you need to be careful about your context and audience.

This week’s homework is to write an open-ended conversation between characters – the kind of discussion you’d have with a friend on a relaxed evening together, when you’re not both rushing off to do something. I’m guessing that this will lead to a class on dialogue next week, so tune in then to see what comes out of it. And again, I’d love to see your take on the task.

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