Written by Sarah Yoon (FireStarters Sneak Peek)

Looking for ways to hone your creativity this year? Give this writing prompt from our upcoming book, FireStarters, a try! FireStarters is all about inspiration, the differing creative types, and how to harness your particular creative energy to generate your best ideas. 

Color deeply impacts art and film. Specific pigments have traditional associations; red incites anger or passion, while green heals and comforts. Each tone elicits emotional reactions, chosen with viewer psychology in mind. They cast a particular mood and play with subconscious associations. Color theory isn’t just the visual artist’s playground; writers use it to their advantage as well. You can use the color wheel to enrich your scenes’ emotional undertones, and discover how by dabbling with your own palette.

1. Choose a color. Find a few visual references around you and consider the color’s range of emotions. List general associations first, then follow up with personal connotations.

2. Brainstorm a scene, starting with a character and location that both embody these emotions. Pair the location’s atmosphere with your chosen color, even drawing it out if you’d like.

3. Find the color’s opposite. On the color wheel, complementary colors clash strikingly. Brainstorm the new color’s emotions and associations as you did with the first.

4. Add a new character into the scene that embodies the second color. With each component now in place, brainstorm how each character has arrived at his or her emotional state. Write a scene around their interaction.

5. Transition visual focus as emotions shift. Start the scene with the first color. As the characters interact, adjust the emotional emphasis until the complementary color dominates the scene.

Painting a stunning picture in your reader’s imagination can be done subtly. As you read your favorite authors, pay attention to how they use color—whether it’s in the form of light and atmospherics or through props and clothing.