Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Paint Chips

I've spent the past few months making trips every so often to Lowe's and Home Depot and loading up on paint chips. I have a stack about six inches high now for each room, I think. I've got colors taped to walls, tucked behind outlets and switchplates, or tucked up between trim. I've even gone so far as to get some little two-ounce tins of paint samples, ready to splotch on my walls. I look at the colors in sunlight and in shade, at night, in the morning. I sit there staring at paint chips and trying to articulate the exact mood they put me in. If I'm feeling depressed or mopey or antsy, I enter one of the rooms and stare at the paint chips, trying to figure out which one lightens me, or relaxes me, or makes me feel energetic and creative.

The other day, I was revising a scene in my WIP, and I realized that while I'm spending months choosing a color for my extremely mundane downstairs powder room, I'm spending a little over seven minutes on the setting of my scene. Seven minutes. And this from a confessed worldbuilding freak. I mean, I have pages and pages of notes about how the universe is supposed to work, on everything from cosmetic nanites to stewbeets, noble houses, and special cuisine only served in formal settings and in manor houses versus settlement houses.

But all of it means jack squat if it doesn't in some way contribute to the story I'm trying to tell about the characters. So I'm sitting down now, with my copious notes and my manuscript, and picking out paint chips for scenes. Normal people would probably do this before they actually wrote the scenes, but as we all know, writers aren't normal.

I'm not kidding when I say I'm using paint chips. I've gone through my foot-thick folder of paint chips and picked out colors that best invoke the mood for a particular scene and as I edit and revise, I keep glancing at those paint chips and summoning the sensibilities they invoke. It's unorthodox, but it seems to be helping me put another layer into the story I'm telling. I think I'll run with it.

And maybe someday, HGTV will have one of those "Scary Stories Of Decorating" about the insane writer who decorated her house in "Inciting Incident" and "Black Moment."

2 comments:

MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

Oh, Dear God...that's funny!!! Brilliant, but funny. Maybe cosmetic manufacturers will create make up for women writers as well. Plot Pink for the lips and Motivation Mauve for the fingertips. For hair color they could have Heroine Honey-Blonde. What do you think? Is it the next fad? If so...you should get some big bucks for coming up with the idea. : )

-kat

Xandra Gregory said...

LOL. Thing is, I can see these names for colors showing up.