Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Designing a Character: Color/Hue

Of all the elements of design, color has the greatest psychological impact.  It is also the most subjective.  How many times in your life has the answer to the question, “What’s your favorite color?” changed?

Generally speaking warm/high value hues, yellow, orange, and red, energize us, while cool/lower value hues, blue, green, purple calm us.  There are commonly accepted perceptions to specific hues.

Let’s take a quick peek at some associations with primary colors:
Red: violence, lust, hatred, blood, love, passion
Yellow: youth, health, vitality, action, happiness
Blue: truth, loyalty, sincerity, peace, calm

Go to the secondary hues and you’ve added a layer of complexity, after all it takes blue and yellow to make green.  Go down to the tertiary hues and we have a full palette of possibilities as we mix a primary and a secondary.  Yellow-greens will not have the same emotional impact as a nice kelly or forest green.  Suddenly a bright vibrant yellow becomes sickly when infested with touches of green.

What qualities of color do your characters project?  What hue associations tie in to what drives them through the story?  Are they a primary color, pure in nature or something as complex as a blackened magenta?  Does your character blend cohesively with their setting and other characters, or are they a living mismatched outfit worn out in public, like Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter?  Try mixing some bold, unexpected color combinations to define your character.

One last thought.  When naming colors in your writing, remember the paint chips at the hardware store.  It’s a great place to research interesting color names.  Blues run the gamut from sapphire to midnight, reds dance from crimson to cherry, and even browns span root beer to toast.     

I give you permission to buy the BIG box of crayons and explore. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Gift from the Blogosphere

This sounds like an awesome contest.  Go for it.  I triple-dog dare you.
Guide to Literary Agents - 7th ''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Young Adult

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Designing a Character: Texture

Texture connects us directly with our senses of sight and touch.  Discovering the feel of hard vs. soft, smooth vs. rough, or shiny vs. dull, gives us information about the world, through our fingers and eyes.  As a general perception, we are drawn to soft, smooth, and shiny, while hard, dull, and rough aren’t always as desirable. 

How does imposing texture add dimension to your character?  Do you want them to be appealing, or dangerous?  Is their texture deceptive to their true nature, or an affirmation of who they really are?  Every character has an exterior and interior landscape.  Are these layers of their texture contrasting or complementary?  Do your character’s textures come out in touchable form, such as clothing, or are they reflected in speech, action, and expression?                         

Back to Harry Potter for a peek at texture.  I see Voldemort as a black charred core, surrounded by a slick metallic coating, covered in gashes with knife-sharp edges.  

Be a texture seeker.  Mentally sculpt your character with materials that reveal them.  See what nuances you may discover.   

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Designing a Character: Line

           Line is one of the essential elements of design.  The type of line used in a drawing or composition creates a psychological impact on the viewer.  Imagine the theoretical spine of your character as a certain type of line.  How does that impact their personality and actions?
Vertical lines, especially substantial mechanically drawn ones, convey strength.  In nature, we relate the vertical line to trees or buildings that define a city’s skyline.  The horizontal line cannot help but be associated with the horizon, where sky meets sea, i.e. peace, tranquility.  The diagonal line needs support to keep it from toppling, but is oh so exciting to slide down.
            Let’s not forget our friends the curved lines.  The half-circle, not so thrilling, but the spiral conjures the power of a tornado.  The meandering curved line takes us on an easy but not always purposeful journey, like the course of a river.
            What kind of lines do your characters represent?  I am a huge Harry Potter fan.  I’ve always seen Harry as an active spiral, sometimes loose, but having the potential to pull in tightly at any moment.  Harry can also be a straight line that rapidly changes direction such as the readings on a seismograph.  Hermione is definitely a vertical, and Ron, meandering.
            Time to share.  What kind of lines do you see in some of your favorite characters?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Creative Core

Ever heard of the creative core?  I’m sure I didn’t invent it, but I thoroughly believe in it.
Time and time again at UCLA, I noticed my students that were especially talented in acting, showed great flair and originality in the scenic designs they created in my class.
  I myself was an actor up until college, where I learned I had a knack in the magic of painting with light as a theatrical lighting designer.  I went on to enjoy success as a playwright as well.
Odd crossovers?  I don’t think so.  Once a creative soul learns the skills and vocabulary of another artistic discipline, it opens up a new avenue for expression.  The right brain is a fantastical storehouse of artistic potential in us all.
Ready to try?  All you writers out there should dash to the bookstore and pick up DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN by Betty Edwards.  Nudge the talents you have to make words come alive and channel them into sketching.
I dare you to tickle your own creative core.