posted on June 27, 2019 by Nika Dixon

The Hidden Meaning of Color in Writing

As a writer, sometimes I spend far too long agonizing over the right way to describe something. I can see the scene perfectly in my head, but when I try and put it on paper, it never seems to come out right. Sometimes, all the adjectives and descriptors can connect together with something as simple as a splash of color.

Colors can represent mood, personality, and emotion. Some are automatic connections—red as blood, white as snow—while others are more subtle. Want your hero to have a fast moving high energy personality? Give him a bright red car. Is your heroine a sweet soul? Put her in a yellow dress. Is the protagonist all about power and control? He needs a lot of dark shades around him.

RED is a dominant color that can represent passion and aggression, depending on how you use it. Science has shown that red can even raise your blood pressure (which is why red bedrooms are not recommended)! Red is highly visible and can also be used to symbolise something dangerous. A redhead is presumed to be more of a spitfire than a bleached blonde.

YELLOW is a color that can lean in different directions depending on how you use it. On one hand, yellows can represent spontaneity and energy, while other shades can represent cowardice. Shades of yellow can represent a great way to plant the seed of personality for a character without having to describe them fully. A “flaxen” haired heroine gives the impression of a lively girl, while a “bleached” blonde has more of a perception of being dimwitted.

ORANGE shades give a cheerful confidence. Many marketing brands directed at children use orange as their base color.

GREENS represent growth, stability, and relaxation. Someone with green eyes is perceived to be the kind of person who loves freedom and is very creative. Greens can imply new life, but it can also carry a hint of jealousy (green with envy) or illness (turning green).

DARK BLUES represent trust, honesty, and loyalty, while LIGHT BLUES give us more of a perception of wisdom and self expression. Blue eyes in your hero or heroine represents someone who is highly intelligent, sincere, and self-sufficient. They may hold grudges longer than most, but they are devoted and noble.

PINK brings feelings of compassion, friendship, romance, and love. Until the 1940s, pink was considered to be a masculine color appropriate for little boys, because it was considered to be a lighter shade of red—a power color. It wasn’t until the 1940s when pink became the accepted norm for girls. Now, pink is slowly losing its gender bias.

DARK PURPLES bring a sense of royalty and luxury. LIGHT PURPLES have more of a creative and inspirational vibe. But adding too much purple can bring on a sense of frustration.

BROWNS are sturdy and stable. Brown haired heroes are reliable, natural, and honest. A character with brown eyes are often seen as being serious and practical, with a strong sense of commitment. If you are trying to convey a character as nondescript, brown suits and brown cars are a great way to give that impression.

BLACK is a very strong color that represents power, control, authority, and rebellion. In some uses, black can bring a sense of elegance—tuxedos and limousines—while in other uses it can instil fear or intimidate. Pairing black with other strong colors like RED can create a highly aggressive impression.

WHITE is a very versatile color. It can instill feelings of purity and innocence, age and wisdom, or sterility and isolation. White is our go-to color for weddings, but it can also represent the cold disconnect of hospital rooms, or frozen glaciers.

Don’t be afraid to use real-world descriptors to add to color to your character’s personality without having to have someone (the narrator or another character) explain it to the reader. Describing someone’s hair color as “battleship grey” is a great visual for a character who might have an unwavering personality.

Many different traditions and cultures shape how we see color in the world. Colors can be used to set the mood, to add personality, or to bring a sense of emotion into a scene. With the right use of color, you can create love and harmony, or tension and evil.

___________________________________________

Still angry over the death of the woman he loved, rancher Marshall Boyer wants nothing to do with women or love. But when the mysterious Emma drops into his life—barefoot, broke, and running scared—he can’t let her go.

Artist Emmaline Katz has a dangerous secret. After escaping a ruthless criminal who exploited her for years, her quest for freedom crashes to a halt in rural Montana. Out of money and options, she finds an unlikely haven with a handsome cowboy. But no matter how much she wants to believe his offer of protection, he doesn’t know the truth about her, her secret, or the man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

Time is running out. A cold-blooded killer has come to town, and Emma isn’t the only target.

Nika Dixon

Nika Dixon

Jugging her zany schedule like a cat herding guru, Nika Dixon spends half her time at the hockey rink, the other half trying to remember where she put her tea. Nika lives in Ontario with her family, and dreams of converting her office into a library so she can spend her days trapped between her two addictions---romantic suspense and sci-fi. When she isn't overrun by the plot bunnies, Nika works as project manager and graphic designer. Her loves include road trips, cheesy action movies, summers on Georgian Bay, and cheesecake (although not necessarily in that order).

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