Maybe this is why, as I’m reading Markus Zusak’s Prinz Honor book, The Book Thief, I’m falling in love a little bit with his use of color. Somewhere in my head, I’ve always known that writing about any of the senses – the experience of color included – grows flesh on writing. But Mr. Zusak’s colors don’t just build virtual flesh. His use of color changes tone. Punches you in the gut. Whispers secrets in your ear. Sneaks under your skin and raises the hair on your arms.
Mr. Zusak writes of yellow tears and skies the color of milk. He shows us “orange and red embers” that “looked like rejected candy” after a horrible bonfire. Liesel, our heroine, sees the “skull-colored part” in Hitler’s hair at a rally. Even light illuminating a man’s deathbed is “gray and orange, the color of summer’s skin.”
Here are some others:
“A star the color of mustard was smeared to the door.”
“Still, with red tongues and teeth, they walked down Himmel Street, happily searching the ground as they went. The day had been a great one and Nazi Germany was a wondrous place.”
“The book was hot and wet, blue and red – embarrassed – and Hans Hubermann opened it up.”
Have you found examples of color used to bring such power to writing? Do you consciously work on including color – and other sensory details – in your writing?
Think in emeralds and rubies, sapphires and brass today when you sit down to write. Color your sentences with the deep red of blood or the glow of orange from a jack-o-lantern’s eyes.
Or can you color other senses? Can the sting of a bee feel a certain color? Can the scent of mildewed and rotting leaves smell a certain color? What about the heat of the sun on the back of your neck or the sound of rain dripping against a cold window pane?
Write today. Write with all of your senses – and use the colors of fall as your inspiration.