Did you know that certain colors have long been associated with emotional reactions? Many designers and marketers use color to communicate messages and evoke certain responses. Red is often used in restaurant logos because it makes people feel hungry, and a spa will feature lots of pale green so visitors feel more relaxed. At Writer’s Relief, we know color can also be used to enhance your writing! Adding the right colors to your short story, poem, essay, or novel can bring images to life for your reader. Here are our best tips for using color theory to improve your writing.
5 Ways To Use Color Theory In Your Writing
Use color to reveal personalities. What color comes to mind when you think of your main character? A protagonist who is stable and predictable might wear calming blue, while one who is clever and quick-witted might have green eyes. Or a loyal, energetic sidekick might have orange hair and freckles. The color of your characters’ clothing or physical attributes will help develop your characters and make them easy for your readers to visualize.
You’ll find a handy color association chart here.
Add color to your settings. Color can set the tone for a scene or poem in a beautifully subtle way. For example, a bright blue sky and golden sun seem much more welcoming than an ominous, dark gray sky or a bloodred sun—and all we did was change the colors.
Make a mood board with a special color scheme. If you need a little extra encouragement for your WIP (work in progress), consider making a mood board, collage, or aesthetic that will help you visualize the project. Break out the markers and swatches to incorporate the colors you associate with your main characters, themes, and settings or places in your story.
Get inspired. If you’re suffering from a bad case of writer’s block, go outside to recharge and be inspired by color! Go on a nature walk, visit a grocery store (filled with colorful fruit and packages) or a coffee shop, or head to your local hardware store to look at paint samples! See what colors you’re drawn to and how they make you feel—then ask yourself how you can incorporate these hues into your story or poem.
Describe colors creatively. Add to your writing’s atmosphere by finding creative ways to describe colors. Challenge yourself to communicate the colors in a scene without repeatedly mentioning the color by name. Vivid color descriptions paint a clearer picture for your readers and help you to set the tone of your scene. If your characters stop in front of a pink building, is it bubble-gum pink or a dusty rose? And a brooding antagonist might live in an apartment draped in deep, velvety purples rather than sweet, bright lavender.
Incorporating the psychological impact of color theory in your writing can effectively set the mood, reveal personalities, and show emotions. And your readers will use the color cues you provide to better imagine the scene and your characters.
Question: What do different colors evoke for you?