True Colors

It's summer, my favorite season of the year! I crave the sunshine, the warmth, but most of all, the colors. When folks talk about using the five senses in writing, I most often find I use smell and touch, but the thing that I'm drawn to most in other people's writing is color.

Having recently read MATCHED, the color green is everywhere, but I'm captured most by the image that "Spring Is Green" is a lie, because the first signs of spring are really red. And it's true: the first buds on trees and bushes sticking out of the black and brown are striking with the promise of new leaves, but we forget that in the Crayola-Crayon world of supposed-to-bes. Sometimes, it pays to look, really look and see what things are instead of how we're told they are. Therein lies some great stories.

Red is the splash of color throughout Beth Revis' ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, bursts of koi-colored paint against the sterile environment on ship. Most often, red is blood, throughout THE WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS, the TWILIGHT series, and Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and its sequels, but sometimes it's a swatch of clothing like in Jackson Pearce's SISTERS RED. I think about the copper wire and rust of SHIPBREAKER, the black-and-gold of THE HUNGER GAMES, the soft mist-gray of the moors in THE NEAR WITCH, the tarnished silver of the Gentry slag heaps in Brenna Yovanoff's THE REPLACEMENT and my own purples, pinks, and oranges--the colors of Dia de los Muertos--in my own book, LUMINOUS.

Color is something that sticks in our minds and calls up associations from deep within our brains. They carry images and feelings that are like photographs; the picture itself is worth a thousand words. So far beyond hair and eyes, colors make the world--fictitious or real--vivid, brilliant, and most of all, alive. If you think of your favorite books, is there a color you associate with its story or characters? My favorites are the trickster greens: the Peter Pans, the Hobbits, the elves and snakes and fairy folk.

And then there is summer, a thousand shades of green...and begging me to go out on the deck and read.



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