Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Designing a Character: Light/Purpose

Why do we need light?  Illumination, right?  Ding, ding, ding…correct.  Ah, but illumination has a myriad of subtexts.

DIRECTING OUR FOCUS: We look where the light is strongest.  It guides our line of vision.  Is your current action bathed in the brightest light?  Are distinct pools of light guiding your reading through moments?

CONTRAST:  We may be looking at the light, but who or what is lurking in the shadows.

MOOD: A character walking out in the midday sun projects a different purpose than a character strolling through the dappled sunlight filtering down along a tree-lined path.

STABLE VS. UNSTABLE: Dependable electric lights shining in a room at night give a secure feeling, safety from the darkness.  The light of a candle or the fire in a fireplace is not so constant.  What are we missing in a character’s face lit sparsely by a flickering light?

STRONG VS. WEAK: Are you exposing your characters with sharp, crisp rays, or do more diffuse beams gently reveal them?

Play with the concept of light.  Let it be a tool to bring an added layer of dimensionality to your characters and scenes.  Try visualizing light that would not be expected in a given situation.  How does that change intention or outcome?


  1. "Lurking in the shadows..." Awesome! All of these are great points, Leslie. Light and weather play such important roles in our writing.

  2. Thanks Julie. It is fun to be a weather master. I feel like Zeus throwing lightning bolts sometimes.

  3. I love this. And I try to use it. It's such a nice way to reveal emotion or intention.

  4. Thanks,Lisa. I can always feel the quality of light in your writing. You are wonderful at setting a scene's ambiance.