Friday, July 30, 2010

The Color of Words - A Writer's Palette

Color Your Words

You’ve heard of “The Colors of the Wind.” What Disney aficionado hasn’t? But what about “The Colors of Your Words?”

Like music, color affects the readers mood. When I remodeled my nursery school, and this happened several times over the course of my teaching career, I always asked for “cool” colors for my rugs and walls.

One year we had yellow walls and red rugs. Oh boy! The children got disciplined more that year than in any other. Why? Because “hot” colors excite us. “Cool” colors relax us.

So what role do colors play in your writing?

When you are writing about royalty, what color comes to mind? Did you say purple? That’s the color I think of.

Here is a list that might be useful when you are stumped for what you want your colors to portray.

Red – blood, passion, anger, war
Blue – intellect, water, peace, eternity, sky
Violet – mystical realms, royalty
Gold – sun, godliness, wealth, immortality
Yellow – betrayal, cowardice
Green – Growth, vegetation, youth, envy, illness
Black – death, mourning, ill omen, dreams, sleep
White – purity, virginity, enlightenment.

As a writer consider including colors to evoke emotions, meaning and character.

A few years ago, I won first place in an SCBWI writing contest by describing why the “black” jellybean was the best. Needless to say, the green one was jealous. The red one was angry and hot. The yellow one was cowardly and the purple one was stuck on himself. And it was all done in rhyme. J

So, color your reader’s world with a well-chosen palette.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Persnickety Problems of Prose Picture Book Writing

The Persnickety Problems of Prose Picture Book Writing—Told from the Perspective of a Picture Book Ryhmer.

I’ve been writing picture books for over seven years. I even have one that has sold over 113,000 copies, and it’s a rhymer. The problem, well, my problem, is that rhyme comes easier to me than picture book prose. Probably because I have a naturally older voice. I have no problem writing for older characters in Mg or YA novels. That’s why writing in rhyme for picture books suits me.

When choosing words for a rhyming story the rhyme limits you. You must choose the perfect word, not only for description, but also for meter, scansion, and rhyme. When writing prose I’m so tempted to throw in an extra adjective or a prepositional phrase, just to flavor the manuscript.

I’ve since learned that is a no-no! I’ve joined a really great prose picture book writing group. They’ve helped me tremendously. I’m happy and proud to say I’ve written my first prose picture book that actually tells a story, has lots of action, and solves the problem in less than 665 words. Whew! That’s a record for me. Here’s what I’ve learned thanks to my fellow picture book writers:

  1. No prepositional phrases, or very few
  2. Don’t describe what the illustrator can draw
  3. Skip the extra adjective
  4. Only 4-8 words in a sentence.
  5. Persistence pays off!

Thanks to Lynne and Kellie of “The Prose Garden,” for helping me to “smell the success” of a well-written, persnickety prose picture book. J

Energized to Write for the New Year

 So happy to be attending the SCBWI National Conference this week. My peer critiques went well two nights ago, and energized me to see the p...