For Writers

WORKSHOP

Psychology of Color: How Color Affects our Emotions

Writing is transferring emotion to the page to make a story come alive. Color sets the mood instantly without lengthy, detailed description. Characters and setting become vivid when color is used to evoke primal physiological and emotional responses in readers. Individual colors have meaning defined by society and redefined through personal association. Word painting with color reveals personality, state of mind, environment, emotional state, and so much more. This workshop presents both positive and negative emotions associated with primary and secondary colors and black and white, using specific examples from both romance novels and popular films. It will help authors understand color concepts they can use to enrich and add depth to their writing.

If you’d like to have Sia come and present her workshop, please go to the contact page to get in touch with her.

 

 

ARTICLES

What Is A Story Question?

What is the purpose of your book? To entertain…yes…but that’s the whole picture with a wide angle lens. Change your lens and you’ll see your character… now bring it in closer…ahh… that’s their goal, motivation and conflict – good. Now focus the lens just on the top left hand corner of your masterpiece. Moving it down, past your character’s everyday world, past their change and there… there is where your story question should be.

A story question is something that should be stated in the early stages of your manuscript. Jack Bickman explains in Scene and Structure, that goal and story question are interrelated (entwined). Your character must have a goal that the reader in turn will change into the story question.

The sooner you state the character’s goal, the quicker the reader will have the story question in their mind. They will continue to read seeking the answer to that story question.

Examples:

  • Guys and Dolls – Will Nathan Detroit find a secure place to have the floating crap game?
  • The Proposal – Will Margaret figure out a way to stay in theUS and keep her job?
  • Independence Day – Will mankind survive an alien invasion against the human race?
  • Twister – Will Dorothy, Bill & Jo’s tornado warning system capture data to saves lives?
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – Who will get to the treasure first?

Please don’t get confused, the story question is the overall arcing goal of the story. Yet each of your characters will have personal goals as well.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, all the major characters want to find the treasure first but their reasons are different. Jack Sparrow’s real goal is to get back his ship, The Black Pearl. But first, he must avoid getting hung. Then he needs to find the treasure in order to find The Black Pearl. Will Turner’s goal is to save the fair Elizabeth. Her kidnappers are looking for the treasure and that’s where he hopes to intercept them. Captain Barbossa’s goal is to reverse the curse and become a human again. In order to reverse the curse, he must return the missing piece of gold and spill the blood of the descendent who took it (which Barbossa believes is Elizabeth).  Notice they are all interrelated, but none are for the obvious reason – to get rich.

So when do you answer the story question? The answer must be near the end of your book, at the climax or soon afterward. Once the question is answered the story is complete.

Return to the Examples:

  • Guys and Dolls – During the climax Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) & Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) are on their knees shooting craps in the NYC sewer. So yes, Nathan does find a secure place for the gamblers and the story question is answered.
  • The Proposal – Before for her wedding to Andrew takes place, Margaret confesses to the wedding guests of her deception & how she can’t use someone she’s come to care about. No marriage, so she’s unable to stay in theUS. Again, the story question is answered.
  • Independence Day – The black moment culminates with a final attack on the alien invaders after Steve (Will Smith) and David (Jeff Goldblum) deliver a virus to take out the alien’s shield. So mankind does survive.
  • Twister – Dorothy, placed the in path of a tornado is lifted and the sensors do their data gathering job – answering the story question.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – Jack Sparrow, Will Turner & Captain Barbossa find the treasure all about the same time and then fight over it.

Be aware that genre and length of the book will determine how quickly the story question must be introduced. There is a huge difference in reader expectation between Fantasy & Futuristic and Short Contemporary. In the Fantasy & Futuristic genre, the reader expectation is world building which takes time and words, but in a Short Contemporary the author must get to the meat of her story quickly.

Your Turn:

Last and most important – try to define your story question and write it out. It should be a fairly simple question. Tape it to your computer monitor to remind you where your character needs to go or what they need to accomplish.

 

 

Parody of Deep Point of View

Deep POV is one of the most important tools in a writer’s toolbox. At the same time, it’s one of the most difficult to master.

Suzanne Brockman created the deep point of view standard. She describes basic POV “as a movie camera through which a reader can see and hear a story unfold.” Then, she goes on to teach, “But if the writer moves the camera deeper — way down deep inside of that character’s head — we can not only see and hear what that character sees and hears, we not only know what he thinks and what he feels as he’s thinking and feeling it, but the writer also uses his words, his descriptions — his very voice — to tell the story.”  If you’re having trouble using deep third person, Suzanne suggests trying to write your scene in first person.

The only thing I can add is the more you know your character, the easier it is to write in deep POV. Below is a fun parody that shows some examples. You not only hear these people’s words, but you discover who they are.

 Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Dr. Phil:  The problem we have here is that this chicken won’t realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he’s acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problem.

Oprah:  Well, I understand that the chicken has problems, which is why we wants to cross the road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is part of life, I’m going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

Anderson Cooper, CNN:  We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

Barbara Walters:  Isn’t that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heartwarming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

Nancy Grace:  That chicken crossed the road because he’s guilty! You can see it in his eye and the way he walks.

Dr Suess:  Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road. But why it crossed I’ve not been told.

Ernest Hemingway:  To die in the rain, alone.

Grandpa:  In my day we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

Aristotle:  It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

John Lennon:  Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

Albert Einstein:  Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

Colonel Sanders: Did I miss one?