Friday, May 25, 2012

Splashes of Color: Making Your World Vivid

Sometimes, you can have revelations about life and writing as you're doing the laundry.

Yes, I'm serious. As I washed loads of clothes last week, I realized how much my wardrobe is in need of color. (And yes, this ties into writing in a second.) But first, let me confess: there is so much brown, black, navy, and white in my wardrobe right now that I ought to be a monk. This is no good. I've started shopping for things with splashes of color that look good on me to create more variety and life in my outfits. It's good for the appearance, good for the soul, and good for attracting the opposite sex (I hope).

But you know... Splashes of color are good for your writing too. And it may be a coincidence, but typically the area of writing I struggle with most is description. That's one tool a writer uses to add color and dimension to their world, which would otherwise be black and white (and brown and navy). You have to use description with a discriminating touch, just as you ought to choose shades of clothing that look good on you. Your descriptions should look as good, as hot, as attention-grabbing on your story as that cute little turquoise tee-shirt looks on you.

It takes as much thoughtfulness to choose the right description as the right piece of clothing. It's got to fit. It's got to be reflective of the story you're telling. It's got to make someone do a double-take. Now, I know in fiction description is often skimmed. I do it. Other readers do too. But as much as possible, we can work toward making our descriptions as popping and appealing as our dialogue and the other things we often do better than describing things.

And we can certainly use the other tools of writing to add color too. Shading comes through to the reader in local dialogue, character personality, funny and unexpected dialogue exchanges, cool facts dropped in carefully to make the reader say "ooh, cool, I didn't know that." These are the things that make writing fun, even when it's a challenge to make it good.

Well, that's my confession of the week. How about you? Do you find it challenging to make your descriptions vivid and bright? How do you like to add color to your writing? (And of course, you certainly don't have to tell me about your clothing, but if you do, I'll commiserate.) Share in the comments below, on the Chipper Muse Facebook page, or on Twitter. I chat in all three areas!

Coming up soon on the blog, I'll be doing a series of posts on point of view. And I expect to have some guest posts from fellow writers. So stay tuned!

Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


  1. Hey, stranger! *waves*
    I can tell you that I always go for the dark. I don't know why, but my furniture, clothing, etc., always seem to lean toward that direction. Whether my writing is colorful enough is for others to decide. I would hope that I get better with each piece. We'll see what the audience thinks...
    Thanks for asking/sharing.


  2. I'm with you--description is always the toughest for me. I tend to over think, worrying I've written too much or too little. And too often, I hear other writers say the same.


  3. Yes, sounds like we can relate to each other, Joanie. And I do think it's hard sometimes to know just how much description is enough. It's a high wire act, to be sure. I have a friend who is much more descriptive than I am, and I love her use of detail. In turn, she likes my ability to create interesting comparisons and phrases in my description. So, I guess writing description is a part of finding our voice and style as writers.


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