About the Eyes

I’ve been reading several books about children’s development, which makes sense since I have a 3 year old and a 3 month old. One of those books called attention to how adults and children may have different ideas about objects, with one reason being adults are much more likely to take in a visual aspect while children might be more inclined to taste or smell or touch or listen to it.

Actually, when you think about kids this just makes sense. Who knows what taste there might be on a pine cone? I bet a child would tell me. Probably also explains why so many parents are always screaming “Get that out of your MOUTH!”

But how does that translate into what we write? The majority of authors (especially in brick and mortar stores) are adults. We would then use a lot of visual description when we want it to be real to the readers.

I have a group of characters living on some far-off planet who don’t use their eyes. These nearly blind people can sense movement but not much else. It was such a difficult thing for me to describe things using their noses and ears as the primary senses and the visual as a distant fourth (behind touch). While I haven’t yet decided to have them put everything in their mouths to taste, I can’t promise anything about their futures.

What do you do to distinguish between characters? Do they all use their eyes as a primary sense?

I think if I were to catalog all the descriptive words in my current novel, most of them would be geared toward the visual. Makes me think I should look at that while rewriting. Yay! Just one more thing to edit and polish. I will finish it eventually, I swear. Though it might help to find less things I want to fix.

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What Color Was That?

I started thinking about this as a friend of mine used a color to describe some different kind of person in his story. Jim Butcher had white, red, and black vampires in his Dresden Files. Jacqueline Carey used a deep blood red called sanguine for her character Phedre and to represent her distinguishing feature of being an anguisette. Vulcans from Star Trek have green blood. (Though doesn’t that make you wonder about a half-Vulcan half-Human – shouldn’t he not have either red or green blood? or both? I’m sure that’s another topic for another day…)

As long as we’re doing colors, why isn’t it cerise instead of just red or cerulean instead of just blue? I rarely hear anyone talking about aubergine. Is it the one syllable quality of red and blue and green that make them so common? Yellow simply doesn’t have the same impact. Yet it can’t simply be about the name, because pink will never have the impact of a neon orange – and that never rolled easily off anyone’s tongue.

When I ask someone’s favorite color, often I get a generic blue or purple or brown. The aforementioned aubergine ranks for one friend of mine, and another told me burgundy. It made me think about my own response, which is much more vague since I am fond of too many colors to pick just one. It’s very dependent on what it is for (a car or a purse or the walls of my bedroom)  and my particular mood.

How does color affect how you write? Do you search for a specific shade like chartreuse or will bright green work? Do you work to figure out the perfect color for everything or do you leave a few to the reader’s imagination?

Does having all that information conflict with your own ideas when reading? I’d love to know!