Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Color of Redeeming Love: Environment in a Nutshell

Yesterday, I mentioned a discussion I had with someone about the color or Francine Rivers’ novel Redeeming Love. I also described For the Love of a Devil as being green and moving into the territory of forest green or even black at points. There is another book that I’ve been working on some and I think of it as a brown. Not a dark brown, but it had definite earth tones to it, with a tinge of yellow that brightens it.

Why are we able to think of stories in terms of color? Some are a fiery red. Some are as black as night. Some are a cold blue. Some are a soothing green. Some a relaxing teal. Some are a cheery yellow. Some are soft and tender pastels. What is it that allows us to say that?

Color moves us emotionally. So does music, but music is active. Color is more static. Color tells us the state of the environment. The gray of a cloudy sky gives us the impression that it is a dreary day. The black of night hints at dangers lurking in the darkness. Blue is a color of authority. Yellow reminds us of a sunny day. Teal reminds us of the ocean. It isn’t the action that takes place, but the setting in which it happens.

But setting doesn’t have to be constant. It could even be used to outline a story. Let’s go back and look at Redeeming Love. The book begins with the innocence of youth. Even with what her mother is doing, this is actually a bright spot for the point of view character, so I’m going to paint that period with a light yellow. The story of Redeeming Love continues and Momma dies. This is actually the darkest part of Redeeming Love, so I’ll go ahead and paint it black. Then we kind of get off into a dark red period, as she struggles to make her way. But then it gets brighter. Even though she’s in what should be an undesirable situation, she is a successful prostitute, in demand by all the men of the area. Then Redeeming Love turns pink. A man shows up who wants to marry her and he is willing to pay the price to take her home with him. Redeeming Love has occasional dark spots after that, but mostly it is what I would call pink because the only real struggle is with her trying to convince herself not to fall for the guy she married. Off in the background, he is still there, looking for romance. There are others who want her to return to her old ways, but it is pretty much clear that she has left that life behind and won’t be going back. Blend it all together and here’s the color outline of Redeeming Love.

I don’t know how many people will find it to be helpful, but my thought is that when people are looking for an environment in which to escape, color provides a way to convey what the environment of a book is without the need to explain everything in the book.