Alphabet Blogging Challenge Day 25

It day 25 of my September blogging challenge.

The letter is Y

  and the word is YELLOW

One of the interesting features of the alphabet challenge is the wealth of possible words, that might relate to an aspect of reading/writing, which begin with certain letters compared with the lack of words from other letters. And, yes, as several people have suggested along the way, X, Y and Z have not proved to be the easiest!

However, the end is in sight, and I will get to the end of the alphabet – somehow or another!

So, I’ve chosen yellow because it helps illustrate how mood and atmosphere can be suggested in fiction without having to describe them – showing versus telling. Close your eyes for a moment and think about the different scenes that appear in your mind if I ask you to think about the colour gold and then compare it with the colour straw.

Imagine you are painting your new kitchen. You fancy painting it yellow. You find a shade on the paint chart described as buttercup. That’s just right, you decide. It evokes the optimism of spring, a feeling  you want to create in a room where family and friends will gather to share food and news. The colour will spread the happiness you remember from when you were a child and someone thrust a buttercup under your chin to see if its reflected light shone on the skin under your chin meaning you liked butter.

But then, your husband/wife/partner points to another shade – mustard. You stare at the word and you remember the walls of your classroom, the long hospital corridor you walked down to visit your father in the weeks before he died. You feel bleak and lonely.

Colour has the power to capture and convey emotion and memories, in a similar way to music and smells such as perfume. Compare acid yellow with honey, straw with canary yellow, daffodil yellow with beige. Different moods. When a writer is specific, not simply describing something as yellow (or any other colour), but homing in on the exact shade, he or she can evoke contrasting emotions in the reader. Being specific is an important element in evocative writing.

The colour yellow is also interesting in that it has it has symbolic meanings beyond its ‘yellowness’. Yellow is associated with cowardice for example – think of ‘yellow-bellied’.

It’s a writer’s job to play with such links, to suggest, to tease. ‘I think I might wear my canary yellow T-shirt this evening!’ she said.

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4 Comments

  1. I can’t resist showing you this poem by Rimbaud:
    Vowels

    A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels,
    I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins:
    A, black velvety jacket of brilliant flies
    which buzz around cruel smells,

    Gulfs of shadow; E, whiteness of vapours and of tents,
    lances of proud glaciers, white kings, shivers of cow-parsley;
    I, purples, spat blood, smile of beautiful lips
    in anger or in the raptures of penitence;

    U, waves, divine shudderings of viridian seas,
    the peace of pastures dotted with animals, the peace of the furrows
    which alchemy prints on broad studious foreheads;

    O, sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds,
    silences crossed by [Worlds and by Angels]:
    –O the Omega! the violet ray of [His] Eyes!

  2. Then, there is this one
    Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg

    I spot the hills
    With yellow balls in autumn.
    I light the prairie cornfields
    Orange and tawny gold clusters
    And I am called pumpkins.
    On the last of October
    When dusk is fallen
    Children join hands
    And circle round me
    Singing ghost songs
    And love to the harvest moon;
    I am a jack-o’-lantern
    With terrible teeth
    And the children know
    I am fooling.

  3. Lindsay says:

    That’s brilliant, Becky – haven’t come across it before. Thank you.

  4. Lindsay says:

    Again – wonderful use of colour! Really apt and interesting.

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