Friday, December 13, 2013

Color My World With Words

Books are weird. No doubt about it.

Honest to goodness it can take a person years to write something and then someone can read it in under a week. Books can rip out your heart and make you cry at the most inappropriate times. I totally did not cry during class when I finished The Sight. Nope. Not me. No idea what you're talking about. They also can suddenly become your best friend, right when you needed one the most.

Weird right? But have you also noticed that books are colorful? Not just the covers, but the words, the places. Really good stories have colors. Not "colorful characters" or a description, but where colors mean something. Where the colors themselves are almost a charachter.

I find that this happens in really excellent books and movies, and I am completely in love with it.

Our world is made of colors, why shouldn't books be the same way?

Take Shiloh by Helena Sorensen as our first example. Shadow, darkness, grey. These words are more than just words. they convey fear, uncertainty, and they reflect the inner turmoil of the characters. These colors and shades add so much depth to the point that they become a character themselves.

In Abarat by Clive Barker, you have something unique in the fact that this is a picture book for grown-ups. While the beautiful pictures add an element of life, you'd still be reading an amazing book without them (I don't recommend it, because together they're so awesome, but hey, each to their own). Why? Because of the colors.

Candy leaves a brown, chicken feather filled world into a place of blue water, sky, and strange islands. And each island is during a different time of day. Each has it's own shade. It's never said outright, but it's implied by the choice of words and colors.

It's not just dark. It's a black dark. Or perhaps it's a deep blue sort of dark. And those variations make the book. Subtle, yet it adds so much to the emotion and tension that is happening at the moment.

What about May Bird and the Ever After (by Jodi Lynn Anderson)? The tinges of color throughout are even more subtle, but they're there. Although it took me a second reading to realize this, at any moment the colors could betray May for what she is-alive-and be the death of her. And yet there's a variety of subtle colors throughout. The colors and lack thereof are both a challenge for May to overcome and a way that we know that the Ever After is truly otherworldly.

Just like in real life colors make all the difference. They can be overwhelming when shoved on us at parties or in poorly decorated rooms, but they can be beautiful when they float around us naturally. Sometimes they float about so naturally and subtly that we take it for granted. I think that's one of the beauties of life though. Even if we can't see all the colors clearly, and even when shades become muddled, the fact that there is variation there makes the world interesting and beautiful on a whole new level.

The same goes for books. With the small details and the attention to what surrounds us, a book can go from "good" to "fantastic". A book can leave you outside of it, or it can fully immerse you. And I find that with some well placed color, a book can be just as visual and beautiful as life outside it.

1 comment:

  1. This is creepy. I was just thinking about you and wondering how your writing is coming. I checked your blog, and you mentioned Shiloh. What the heck?! And now I'm itching to read these other books. :) Hope you are well!