An Orange Flash, a Blue Streak, and a Purple Passion
The Allure of Colorful Writing
The captain says, “if you can’t dazzle with brilliance, baffle with bullshit.”
Colorful writing makes reading appealing, compelling, and memorable! Suffusing content with unforgettable, evocative, and imaginative content facilitates a connection between the author and the audience. Getting, and keeping, readers’ attention requires the expert employment, and application, of words and phrases which excite, inspire, titillate, and transport. In essence, colorful writing is stimulating, enticing, and engrossing.
And what is this phenomenon? Colorful writing emanates from an appreciation of the power of words crafted in such a fashion they form a visual canvas as vivid as a work of art. Consider the following passage:
They sat on the beach talking as night fell.
It’s a simple sentence, easy to comprehend. It’s also bland, readily forgotten, and unlikely to seduce anyone. It lacks intrigue. Let’s try again:
Erin and Jake strolled, leisurely, down to a deserted inlet on Rocklin Beach, near the closest cove. Daylight slowly faded into dusk as a richly hued sunset hovered on the horizon. They traipsed a rocky path littered with weeds, debris, and sand.
Close your eyes and imagine this setting. The characters are no longer two unknown people. Their whereabouts have been disclosed creating a sense of locale. Now, let’s switch gears and turn our attention to the aforementioned opening quote. It was inscribed on a prominently placed license plate, situated in the rear of a 1980s van conversion complete with shag carpet and wood paneling. My introduction was mesmerizing, characterized by amusement and astonishment. Those words resonated on a subconscious level which, at the time, I had yet to discern. The saying paraphrases a sentiment expressed by W. C. Fields. It’s good advice for a comedian – especially a novice, but it’s a cardinal sin for a writer.
Ernest Hemingway cut to the chase in a 1958 interview published in the Paris Review: “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all good writers have had it.”
Credibility is a staple of cogent writing, yet some inditers stumble in this area due to a misunderstanding. They assume, incorrectly, the concept of plausibility deprives them of the right to own the tale they want to share. Astute readers know when they’re being fed a crock of crap. Colorful text enhances the end product. It imbues chronicles with depth through the use of beautifully written, deftly placed words and phrases.
Colorful content permeates narratives with imagery. It provides background in much the same way as media utilized by an artist. Here the creation is an admixture of substances: acrylics, oils, water colors, pens, pastels, charcoal, and pieces of things thoughtfully combined to produce an item which is both stimulating and worth talking about. Colorful content works the same way – it isn’t merely what is said, it’s also how.
Aim high, employ attention-getting words and phrases subtly integrated with dialogue, settings, or descriptions of characters, to heighten awareness, and please insatiable appetites. Infuse the blue streak: Transform prose into passages capable of being seen, heard, felt, and embraced. Ignite the orange flash. Titillate with awe-inspiring images and portrayals. Eschew drab, banal, and over-used terminology. Dress up nouns and verbs with modifiers which improve, embellish, and expand opportunities for interpretation. Be inventive, elucidate, and elaborate: incorporate suggestive descriptions. Strive for the purple passion – fan the flames and throw down the gauntlet. Engage emotions – get under the skin, get into people’s heads, make them think, enthrall, rendering readers hot and bothered, pissed off, moved to tears, tickled and laughing from the belly, anxious, or reluctant to take a break.
Writers, arm yourself with the tools you’ll need to make colorful writing part of the magic you weave. Familiarize yourself with the dictionary and thesaurus. These two volumes, along with William Strunk Junior’s Elements of Style are the most effective instruments an enterprising inditer can utilize. Invest in hard cover versions of both. The combination format isn’t suitable for honing skills. Don’t limit yourself by relying on apps…you’ve got way too much moxie to be so shallow!!! Writer’s thesauruses and dictionaries of synonyms, homonyms, homophones, and homographs are a waste of money and aren’t the hallmarks of efficacious, or prolific, belletrists and scribes.
Read the guide to using your dictionary – cultivate a working knowledge of its contents for it is a treasure trove – no kidding. Develop an equally intimate relationship with your thesaurus. Intuition coupled with a formidable grasp of the English lexicon make this document truly irresistible. Make time to peruse and digest these resources. Read The Elements of Style. Learn, or relearn, the principles of grammar, composition, matters of form, and gain insight into words and expressions frequently misused. This indispensable work is as relevant today as it was when Professor Strunk self-published the first edition, for in-house use at Cornell University, back in 1918. Writing well will never go out of style.
Colorful writing forges relationships – by its very nature it can do no less. It’s the equivalent of offering readers a sumptuous buffet of palate-pleasing foods from tasty appetizers to mouth-watering desserts. A sated soul is a happy one. Forget about what the captain says because you’re a scribe and you don’t have to baffle, B.S., or bamboozle to entertain, edify, inform, engage, or uplift.