Colours and emotions Read it later

When we talk about emotions, we immediately think of the feeling we get, the nuances that persist and guide us to the next adventure. We feel them in our bones and connect them to our souls.

Nevertheless, in everyday language, emotions are painted in colours: purple with rage, green with envy, and so on.

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Colours and emotions in creative writing

Colours change our mood so much that we tend to dress in brighter hues when we need strength and energy, and we study the colours of our house walls carefully to feel relaxed or safe. We all have a favourite colour, which improves our self-esteem and makes us feel ready to face a dragon, maybe a small one, or—to quote Bridget Jones—to overcome our fat complexes.

From Interior Design to Inside Out, the importance of colours is increasingly manifest and related to our inner feelings. It’s no coincidence that Inside Out’s Joy is yellow (even though she has blue hair), Sadness is blue, Anger is red, Fear is purple, and Disgust is green.

Warm or cold shades communicate a range of positive to negative feelings and are closely related to lived experiences and memories associated with a particular shade.

Women express themselves with colours. They get rid of bad memories by dyeing their hair another colour and repainting the house—every man’s happiness.

Creative writing allows you to combine this association by describing places, clothing, and—most importantly—characters’ appearance.

I used dark colours for characters with more complex personalities and lighter shades for young characters facing challenges as they grow up. Hair, eyes, skin—everything can express a character‘s (often cruel) personality. Let’s explore the meaning of the main colours.

Warm Colours

Warm colours include all shades ranging from yellow to red and all the shades in between.

Neutral Colours

Some colourswhite, brown, grey, and black—don’t recall warmth or frost; they are called neutral colours.

Cool Colours

Cool colours cover the range from green to blue and the shades in between, beyond all the complementary cool colours.

The meaning of colours

Also consider cold secondary colours in which the mixing of the warm primary colour is prevalent: a purple may have more blue in it, and then it will be cold; if, on the other hand, there is redder, it will be perceived as warm.

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  • RED
    Recall strength, confidence, and a strong personality; represents passion, warmth, tenacity, and anger. You can use this colour for granitic characters, who won’t change their minds even under torture, and for aggressive or tenacious ones.
    Warm and bright, yellow represents the symbol of air in the cardinal elements and esoteric magic. It suggests action and the search for the holy grail. Like the sun, it can describe happiness and prosperity. Still, Icarus knows that it can also become a source of misfortune, so it symbolizes envy, cowardice, and betrayal (never give yellow flowers as a gift). A character with wheat-blond hair can represent the promise of change, a prosperous future, healthy work and a thousand expectations. It’s up to you to choose whether the premise will be expected or something will mess things up.
  • BLUE
    This colour communicates calm, so much so that it is often used in jewellery and luxury brands (quiet, it’s all fine, even if that wonderful ring costs an arm and a leg!). It is elegant, linked to changing feelings (like water), trust, and order, but also sadness, loneliness and depression. You can use it to describe a character’s eyes.
    Youth, confidence, balance, solid values and prosperity (Uncle Scrooge’s word!) represent nature, growth, fertility, envy, and jealousy. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Beware of jealousy. It is a green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” No? Then I recommend you to read William Shakespeare’s Othello. It’s worth your time.
    This colour is wildly controversial. Banned by actors, a symbol of misfortune and deprivation (the colour of Lent), you get it by mixing blue and purple. It symbolizes, therefore, transformation. You can use it in clothes and details to suggest that something is about to change. You will only find out by reading whether it is positive or negative.
    This neutral colour allows you to play covered cards, but remember that tree trunks are brown. Therefore, you will unconsciously suggest that the object or the character you are describing is rock solid in body or spirit. You can use it for a big man or a tiny woman with hidden resources, for someone who is self-conscious about their physicality, or for a trustworthy character. (That is, if he doesn’t have green eyes-at least according to the colour list).
  • GREY
    Grey is another neutral colour you can use for those characters who have suffered trauma and are now dull, broken, and just want to hide from the dreadfulness of the world. Grey eyes might suggest a person who doesn’t like to get involved in other people’s problems (which is usually an excellent way to start creating story conflict), or you can have a character wearing grey facing a difficult choice that will cause them a great sacrifice.
    The first of the achromatic colours (along with white) is obtained by absorbing all the colours of the spectrum. So, the opportunities are endless. It is called the “non-colour” symbol of denial, opposition, and desire for power, but it also represents all that remains hidden and plots in the shadows. Black is associated with elegance, power, magic and the night. Anything can happen under its veil: helping your characters or plotting to destroy them, embodying evilness, repayment and hidden anger.
    The second achromatic colour is the ultimate colour-not-colour. White is obtained by refraction: it doesn’t absorb any of the colours of the spectrum and therefore all you can see is white. This means it’s pure, uncontaminated, and doesn’t let events touch your characters. A symbols of cleanliness, whiteness and simplicity, peace, coldness, and sterility. In some cultures, like the Japanese one, it symbolises death and takes the place of black, so be cautious about how you use it.

The colour combinations available are almost endless. Hide your clues and suggest to your readers what your characters feel, what they are hiding, their cravings, and fears. Use colours in settings, dark tones for oppressive scenes, and light colours for light moments—the chances are limited only by your imagination. Just remember that every colour has a bright side and a dark side; it’s all about knowing how to dose the shadows and their flattery. Have you ever used colours to arouse a state of mind? Write it in the comments.

Enjoy your reading,

Parole in Linea

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