Sunday, April 3, 2011

Black and White Not So Plain and Simple

Cup of Plenty by Elise VanCise 

When you want to state that sometime is steadfastly one way or another you say it’s all there in “black and white.” Or the facts are “black and white.” Black and white is supposed to mean it’s clear to see no room for doubt or shades of gray.

Take a deeper look at a black and white photograph. The image isn’t made up of just two colors, but many varying shades of light and dark.

What has all that got to do with writing? Think about your favorite book or the story you’re working on right now. How black and white is it?

What makes a black and white photo interesting are those shades of gray between the light and dark. If the plot really was as simple as boy meets girl then it wouldn’t be very interesting to read.

Lily Pads in the Current by Elise VanCise

Fiction has to be more than just words put together. We need to add those varying shades of conflict, defat and triumphs to give the story depth and interest.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula would be kind of boring, not even frightening if he only wrote, “The vampire bit Lucy. Lucy turned into a vampire.”

Instead he gives us rich descriptions and lines like “Children of the night, what sweet music they make.” I remember reading this book for the first time and Jonathan Harker arriving at the Count’s castle. Dracula greeted him with “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will.”

Something about that line gave me the willies. Enter freely and of your own free will, isn’t plain and simple. That phrase is filled with shadows and shades of gray, which the reader soon finds out.

St. John's River from the Astor Bridge by Elise VanCise
Life isn’t black and white like type on paper, it’s filled with shades of color. So why not add as much of that as we can into our stories. Enrichen the contrast between black and white point plots with shades of detail and meaning that will pull your reader into the world you’re creating. 

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge Join in the fun :) 

Black & White Photography in a Digital Age: Creative Camera, Darkroom and Printing Techniques for the Modern PhotographerCreative Black and White: Digital Photography Tips and TechniquesDracula

1 comment:

li said...

All true. As a writer, where you aim your light and what you leave in the shadows is important.