I’m back! Hi! I’m know it’s been a while (but who’s really paying attention anyways??). Anyways, I’m working to get everything feeling a bit more back on track, so I’m working to get back into the swing of posting here, as well as on Instagram. Soon I plan to make some time to write some posts other than the writing prompts, but that’s for another day. So ON TO THE PROMPT.
For this week we’re talking about writing with color as a tool. Color is a powerful tool when writing. The way that we introduce color can set the scene, create emotion, draw distinctive images in our head, foreshadow what’s to come, and so much more. I remember one of the first days of my Bath Spa MA, my dear friend Zulekha Afzal shared a piece of her work. While I don’t remember everything, I do remember how she played with color to create a truly terrifying opening scene. The image of dark red blood splattered on stark white snow is still fresh in my mind. The red and oranges of fires leaping up to devour an entire village is easy to summon. And I’m pretty sure the reason for that is her play with colors. The way these colors took small moments and amplified them into something that is easily pictured and felt is a tool that is worth playing with.
This week pick a color. If you’re using the image as a jumping off point, that color is probably red. And while red can describe rage or blood or fire, like in Zulekha’s piece, it can also be a color of celebration, passion, and love. So the way you use it will be key. Will you create a foreboding scene where the crowd presses against you, reds flashing in and out of your vision? Or will it be a celebration, with people you love and boisterous red glow of lanterns lighting your journey around town? Are there opportunities to thread this color through the whole piece, to make it glow? Or will create a stark landscape where the color, when it does arise, makes that moment pop so vividly against all the others?
As always, no matter what, the important part is getting into the chair and putting down words. There is no wrong way to do this. If you have a question, the answer is always yes. Just do it. Write it. Tell your story. Keep fighting.
If you want to write your own piece inspired by the following photograph without being influenced by what I wrote, stop after this photo and come back when you’re done. I’d love to hear lines or entire pieces inspired by my photo, so please share in the comments below! Personally, I had a lot of fun writing this one. It turned into a first chapter of a story that I want to write.
On the Trail
Joey pushed her way through the crowd, narrowly someone sloshing the last of a beer on her feet. There were so many people out that there was barely enough space to walk down the street today. Chinese New Year was like that, and she knew that. That’s why she had promised Elia that she wouldn’t go anywhere near Chinatown today, but unfortunately, Joey had no control over the man in the gray jumper. The man she’d been following for the last hour.
She’d seen him in the Tesco Express while she was buying chips for dinner, chips which were defrosting at the bottom of a rubbish bin in Covent Garden, a few blocks from her flat. There was something about him, the way that he moved like he was gliding across the shop, like gravity didn’t affect him. And then, as he reached for his wallet to pay at the self checkout, she saw the glint of something she swore was a gun. Instead of telling the fifteen year old store clerk, or calling the police, something had possessed her to follow him. After fifteen minutes of unexpected turns and a trek through a mud-soaked part, the chips were soaking through her sweatshirt pocket, sending shivers through her every time the wind blew. She knew she had to make a choice: go home and eat something or keep following the man in the gray jumper. So she tossed the chips, never taking her eyes off the man.
He was harder to follow in the depths of the raucous celebration tangled up in the Chinatown Streets. The red lanterns flashed above her as they swayed in the breeze, bright against the hazy gray sky. Joey dug her hands deeper into her jumper, desperately searching for warmth. She hadn’t planned to be out this long. She should get in a taxi and go back home or duck into a restaurant and just eat something and forget about the man. The man who either had a metal money clip she’d mistaken for a weapon or had a gun and could kill her the moment he noticed her following him. But she couldn’t make her feet stop moving, her eyes stop searching for him. Her vision was filled with the man, the flash of his orange hair blending in against the red glow encompassing them, the dull static of his gray jumper in the rush of puffy jackets and bright scarves.
The man ducked around a corner, into an alley that Joey had taken a million times to cut over to her favorite indie comic shop. She knew there was usually a big metal rubbish bin and a stack of pallets from the produce stand. A great place to hide so she could see where he was going without him seeing her. The man looked around, his eyes wild with something that should have scared Joey off, but she wasn’t in control of her feet anymore, this morbid obsession taking over. Sure, she liked the odd true crime documentary or procedural drama, but she never once thought that she wanted to be in the middle of one. Never even thought to find the armchair detective forums where people tried to solve unsolved crimes. She would rather someone else do the leg work and let her marvel at the horror of it all afterwards and be grateful she was nowhere near it.
And yet here she was, peeking around the corner of the building, expecting to find the man marching through the alley toward the rows of houses and shops on the other end, but instead, she found it deserted. She took a step back, confused, and looked around. The fire escapes were empty skeletons against the dark brick of the building. The doorways held no shadows within which to hide. Unless he ran from the moment that he rounded the corner till the moment that Joey did, there’s no way he would have made that. And he wouldn’t run if he didn’t know he was being followed.
Joey took a step into the alley, the red glow fading as the buildings blocked out the light. Behind her a crowd launched into a riotous cheer, making Joey jump and glance behind her. The group of young men patted each other on the shoulders, smiles wide, as they loudly congratulated each other on something. Joey sighed, the spike of her heart quieting, before turning back to the alley.
His hand was on her mouth before she understood what was happening. He forced her back against the wall, his red hair nearly glowing in the dim alleyway light.
Elia was going to be so cross with Joey when they found out. That was the thought bouncing around Joey’s head before her instincts kicked in and she understood that she was likely going to die here, in the alley between Chinatown and her favorite comic shop. All because she wanted to play hero instead of waiting for someone else to fix it instead.
“I need you to be silent Josephine,” the man growled. His eyes searched Joey’s face for understanding. Joey stayed silent despite not understanding how the man knew her name. Maybe he understood because he continued. “Josephine Solder, age 20, studying history at Goldsmith Uni. Eventually you’ll have to tell me how you made me, but right now, I need you to stay absolutely silent and do not move.”