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Writing in vivid color

By on Mar 21, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The creator of the world’s thinnest wallet is getting ready to release his first infomercial. It’s a big step for the Big Skinny, which up until now has largely been sold at shows and on the Internet. This sort of mass exposure has incredible potential, so every detail has to be just right. Take, for example. For this ad, there are just two: luxurious tuxedo black for the daring, dashing and discerning customer and  comfortable chocolate brown, for the steady, dependable, let’s just hang out sort.

It would have been easier, and just as accurate, to say that the wallets come in black or brown, but studies have shown that adding a descriptive word increases sales. This make sense; the simple addition of a word creates a story around the color. It’s just a hint, but enough to spark the imagination.

Why settle for plain pink fingernails when they could be painted in pink celebration? And certainly a “racing red” car is more fun to drive than an plain red one.

These words matter just as much in your writing as in advertisements. This goes way beyond colors. A descriptive word added here or there helps to make your story more real and exciting. This is true for both fiction and non-fiction. Your main character isn’t just tall, he’s unusually tall. He’s not just funny, he’s exceedingly funny. His hair is pumpkin orange and he wears a cheap t-shirt, or maybe an expensive polo. See how quickly the image you have changes?

The challenge is to avoid clichés and find fresh ways to use these delightful adjectives and imaginative adverbs. Don’t just plop in the first one that crosses your feverish brain. Try out a few to see which best captures the vivid image you’re trying to convey.

Can you go overboard? Certainly. You could use too many. They could be too far fetched. They should hardly be noticeable to the reader and yet it should seem that the piece would be inaccurate if you removed them. Don’t stress about that now, just write and have fun. Better to worry about it during the laborious editing process.

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