Writing In Color

Using color to evoke emotion in your readers.


Sometimes a scene falls flat. Was it the lack of character action? Was it the emotion descriptions? Personally, I believe it is because of a lack of color. I love reading books and taking a plethora of mental (and sometimes physical) notes. I've felt more emotion in a book when two things are present: Emotion descriptions coupled with color.


So, fear not, I've compiled a list of colors with their corresponding emotions or descriptors. I will more than likely be updating this list sometime in the near future, but for now, here it is.


RED: Urgency, danger, passion, or excitement.

Use this color to convey these emotions. Think of your favorite movie that has a chase scene, or a ‘stalking’ scene. Jurassic World 2 has a scene where a dinosaur is hunting a little girl and the color red is used prominently. From the curtains to the filtered light to the alarm ringing. The same technique can be applied to your scene.


YELLOW: Optimism, happiness, energy, or warning.

Use this color to convey these emotions. From a tranquil field filled with yellow dandelions to the whirring lights in a space-ship signaling a breach, yellow is a versatile hue to insert into your writing.


BROWN: Nature, simplicity, honesty, unclean, or poverty.

Brown is a unique color, balancing a scale between warmth and peace, to dirtiness and poverty. Depending on the scene, brown can be used as a tool to enhance the welcoming environment, or to highlight filth.


ORANGE: Refreshing, energetic, creative, or rejuvenation.

This color is best used in small doses, placing it here and there in a scene. Autumn is a wonderful time to use yellow, red, orange and brown. Thing of the orange-tinted sunset, or the tiles of an ancient palace.


PURPLE: Love, mystery, compassion, or wonder.

Purple is an amazing color to use for the introduction of a character or setting you deem as mysterious or wondrous. Think a wizard’s fluttering cloak dipped in twilight purple, or the royal tapestries hanging in a throne room, or the boundless night sky specked with stars.


BLUE: Serenity, peace. calm, sadness, secrets, or confusion.

Blue is another versatile color. The fathomless depths of the ocean, holding secrets aplenty within its waters, or the calm of the vast sky. You can use this color to convey a variety of unique and hard-to-understand emotions with little effort.


GRAY: Hopelessness, sadness, pain, loss, and neutrality.

Gray in writing can be symbolic of several emotions. The halls of a spaceship, the bars in a prison cell, or the storm clouds crowding the skies during a funeral procession. This is another color best used in moderation, but it packs a punch when used.


GREEN: Harmony, charm, adventure, trickery, or wealth.

Think Loki and his green suit, or a leprechaun. Green is one of those colors which have two faces. It can be a beautiful forest, or the flashing eyes of the local card-shark. This color certainly never gets old, and can be used many times over to enhance those emotions.


PINK: Gentleness, calm, romance, or girlishness.

Pink is a rather underused color even though it can be used to enhance a variety of positive emotions. The pink clouds during sunset, the cotton candy at a fair, or the gown of the naive princess just before she is snatched away by a villain.


BLACK: Power, intelligence, death, evil, or fear.

Black is similar to gray, but has less of a neutral mellow tone to it and more of a glaring warning. From the Grim Reaper’s cloak, to the colorless gaze of the villain, black is a color best used to highlight these emotions.


WHITE: Purity, innocence, hope, cleanliness, confusion, or shock.

White is usually connected to positive traits or emotions. Though place your character in white room, you can quickly disorient them and confuse. This is a powerful tool, and best used with contrasting colors such as black to evoke fear, or blue to evoke a sense of calm.

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