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Using Colors to Improve Our Writing

More thoughts on color use in our writing.

You may have read through the recent lesson on using color symbolism in poetry and creative writing, and if you’re continuing here for more poetic teaching, then I welcome you. Learning is more fun with engagement, so, I welcome your thoughts in the comments. With that – let’s talk about how we use color in our work.


Color isn’t only for literary symbolism, like creating colorful mental gymnastics for our readers and those who love analyzing literature and poetry – but it is also a helpful tool for us as writers. It helps us to communicate what we see in our minds, what we envision, creatively, for the scenes we set, the moods we elicit, and the overall reader’s immersive experience in our work. In short – colors make everything better. More lively. More mysterious. More emotional. More expressive and enjoyable.

Let’s talk about three ways we use color to develop our writing and give a deeper experience to our readers. 


Three common uses of color in poetry & creative writing

Symbolism isn’t the only way that color enhances your poetry. Aside from using color symbolism, a literary device many may feel outdated or too complex for their own writing, color is commonly used in the following ways in modern poetry and creative writing.

Using color to set the scene

Color is, at its surface, a component of descriptive writing, giving the reader a visual experience of your work. The trees are green and brown, the sky is blue with some white, the sea is a pearlescent green. All of these things are visual images your reader can use during the reading to flesh out the scenery of what is happening in your poem or creative writing piece.

Color allows you to creatively write out your imaginings in a way that your reader has a shared experience with you when they read your work. In this way, color helps you to communicate with your reader.

Using color to evoke an emotive response

Poems exude an energy that can be more deeply developed by the use of color. Human emotion and variance of energy, emotive vibration, and experience within reading a poem, can all be greatly affected by the color with which one paints a poem or a piece of creative writing.

For example, it might be quite difficult to convey a tone and feeling of anger if one is writing about the color blue. No matter how well crafted, the reader may shift into a more subtle energy, and a more saddened response.

For those poets and writers who often write from experience or shift into storytelling, you may want to consider adjusting the actual colors in your work to better support the emotional response you seek from the reader.

Using color to build ambiance or mood

Color also sets the stage for your work by building an aura of perception that creates tone, intensity, and a sense of speed or time. These are all helpful devices to move the reader through your work with the appropriate sensory experiences and reactions.

You can pull the reader through an experience by way of a color-infused ambiance that supports the piece and functions as a glue for the shifts of narrative, providing a whole-poem experience rather than a hop-scotching through the narrative.


Using color with more description

One other element to consider when using color to fully develop your pieces is the language with which we describe color in our work. Think of the color blue. We can simply say blue or we can use more specific language to give a more visual experience for our readers. What about saying turquoise, cornflower, azure, icy, or royal? Each of these more descriptive blues can add more meaning to our work and further develop the scene for our readers.

We can also use images that show color. For example, if we are talking about a field full of buttercups, we can evoke a bright and happy mood in the color yellow, which may be more meaningful than simply saying “a field of yellow flowers.” When we are more descriptive we can give the reader more than a colorful scene, but one that evokes emotion, experience, and transports our readers right to the core meaning of our work.


In Conclusion

As writers and poets, it is ultimately our responsibility to communicate with our readers. If we only tell them part of the story and expect them to create their own ideas of what the work means, how the scenes look, and how they should feel about what they are reading, then we are failing to give depth to our work and putting far too much responsibility onto our readers. It is our job to entertain, to inform, to create a space within our work for our readers to fall into and enjoy. 

Colors, when used with intention and descriptive ease, help us to do that for our readers.

Thank you for reading and I hope this piece has been helpful to you. You may follow the author for more poetry and creative writing educational pieces. You can also join The Poet’s Lair if you wish to take your poetic writings to the next level.

Recommended2 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Classic Literature, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry