Colorful Thoughts: Red!

Just joining us?  We’ve already hit purple, blue, and yellow.

Red is the color of fire, blood, and passion!    There are so many connotations with red, they sometimes even contradict.  Love is red, but so is hate.  Anger is red, but so is lust.  Before we delve into the writing implications of red, let’s look at red in nature.

Red shows up from time to time in nature.  You can probably think of a naturally-occurring red rock, or red bird, or red flower.  There is even a red planet, although it could be argued to be more orange than red.  Like yellow, red stands out from its background, and even in nature this is used to an advantage.  Flowers that are pollinated by hummingbirds tend to be red, to catch the attention of the birds.  Red-winged blackbirds only flash their red feathers during territorial or mating displays.   Red can even be a warning coloration – snakes, frogs, and insects display bright red as a way to let their potential predators know that they have venom, poison, or something equally as nasty.  Whereas yellow was simply a lovely bright spot in an environment, red is a neon sign trying to get your attention.  (There’s a reason stop signs and stop lights are red.)

Now that we know red is a way to get your attention, let’s move to the writing part.  Clearly, red can be used the same way in your writing, to catch the reader’s notice.  Pairing red clothing with a cool demeanor is an interesting juxtaposition that can make a character more intriguing.  As far as magic goes, you’ll see red used a lot.  Blood is often used symbolically, in many different contexts, and blood is red.  When it comes to the four elements, fire and red are the most easily linked.  Red robes on a magic user or red traits (like eyes) on a magic being will give the reader a feeling of blood, fire, and passion.  Just be careful to clarify your usage with the rest of your character development.  With the contradictions that red brings, you can create different impressions in different readers, depending on how they interpret the color.

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The Holy Grail of Blogging

Two of my friends (I’m assuming Paul and Shea are okay with it if I call them my friends) recently achieved the holy grail of blogging: they crashed their host server.

These two wrote a book entitled Interpretation By Design and author a blog of the same name.  They write about the graphic design elements of many things, and as they are both baseball fans they often post about this as well.  Paul recently took up the challenge of creating a baseball-related flowchart; specifically, it helps you decide what team to cheer for.  Well, this little flowchart went crazy viral and the post got so many hits it crashed their host server.  The blog has been temporarily suspended, until traffic dies down, so the other blogs and websites that depend on the server can continue to work.  In the interest of helping I’m not going to link to their blog in this post.  (Shea and Paul, I will add a link to your blog once it is up and running once more!)

However, the flowchart was moved to Flickr, so if you want to see the cause of this craziness, look here

Going viral and getting so many hits your server can’t handle it is the best prize in this reality contest we call blogging.  A blogger never knows what will go viral, what idea or comment or shared epiphany will resonate so well that everyone feels the deep need to share it with everyone they know.  Most of us don’t write with that goal, which is probably wise.  The posts we write trying to reach that level of reader response tend to feel forced and fall flat.  It’s the random, odd things that we do for fun (or in response to a challenge) that click.   

A common item of advice given to new authors is to write the book you want to read.  Don’t try to write to the trends, to what’s popular now.  Write what you are passionate about, write what you enjoy.  The same applies to blogging, and really any endeavor we take on.  Passion makes it real, makes it appeal to others, and gives it value.

** Update: Interpretation By Design is back up and running!  Here’s the link: http://www.interpretationbydesign.com/

Passion

My director at work has asked us to create proposals for new projects at work.  His one guiding principal: propose something you are passionate about.  Find something that you care so much about you would be heartbroken to hear “no.”  I found one to propose – I think my coworkers are going a bit crazy from my constant “idea bouncing” and yammering about it.  🙂  Hey, the boss wants passion…

Passion for writing is also important.  Every book I’ve read about writing says to write what you know, or better yet, to write the book you want to read.  Find characters that you love, a story that you can’t wait to share, and write it! 

Not counting writing and revising, I’ve read my manuscript three times.  Every time I get to a point where I can’t put it down.  I wrote the thing!  I know what happens!  It doesn’t mean that it will affect others the same way, but at least I succeeded in writing a book I want to read.  As I’ve mentioned before, the secret for me was the characters.  I love my characters.  They are like my children.  I worked very hard to give them depth (although I think I fell short with my antagonist) and to make it easy for the reader to feel connected to them.  When you care about the characters, you want to know what happens to them.  This can carry you through even less-exciting sections, and it definitely creates the drive to keep reading.

I know that when I get into my stories, I always want to know what happens next!