Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CONTRASTS--in writing and in life

The basic value of contrast in writing hit me in the gut several days ago. My sister-in-law and I were visiting in my den. She suddenly chuckled, at an inappropriate time in the conversation, to tell me "that's a perfect example of you and Frank (my dear husband)." I asked what and she broke into giggles and pointed at a corner of the room. "What?" I questioned.

"The contrast in that display of your shelf."

"What?" I demanded.

"It's just perfect. Your corner shelf filled with Seraphim angels and my grandfather's anvil sitting on the floor in front of it. Frank wants everyone to think he's tough and inflexible, but we know better. You have beautiful angels everywhere that accent your love of animals and life. But, you can be pretty tough."

"Anvils and Angels," I mused. The wheels of creativity began to turn. But, I put the thoughts on the back burner.

By the way, Frank and I have been married for almost 39 years. Despite the contrasts in our personalities.

It's the Contrast that makes the anvil and angels visually interesting.

On my way to see a friend in Wichita Falls, Texas this past weekend I witnessed another beautiful example of contrast. My drive occurred over semi-icy roads and six inches of new snow on the ground. The drive is rural, there are many cattle and horse ranches along the way. It was breathtaking to come to the top of a hill and see a herd of livestock pawing the ground in search of dry grass.

However, the contrasting sight for me, coming over one of those Oklahoma hills was a herd of black Angus grazing and searching for food in a snowy pasture. It had an impact on me.

Black on White. That's contrast.

Another example, seeing six or seven horses galloping in a snowy pasture is beautiful. Horses are graceful and full of soul. Horses stir something in me that I have difficulty describing. It is akin to seeing God.

However, on the way home from my weekend excursion, I saw a herd of about twenty full size goats galloping in a pasture. Not so graceful or soulful. As a matter-of-fact, it was humorous. I don't know why the group was galloping. They most likely sensed danger or saw their owner going to the barn with a bag of feed.

Another contrast, the grace of horses versus the frantic, lumbering, gallop of goats.

What sort of contrasts are you including in your writing? Do your characters have traits that cause turmoil in their life or in the lives of others? Does your hero and heroine have personality characteristics that cause friction in their relationship or that may cause your readers to keep reading to figure out if the contrasting traits cause a demise of their relationship.

Thinking of contrasts in my own writing these past days has led me to make several changes in my own works in progress. I'm showing contrast--in emotions, personality, events, geography, food, coping mechanisms, and other important writing tools we all try to have in the hope chests for our words and work.

I have few publishing credits, but I do have some. I am writing with a renewed focus. Because of that, I'm noticing things around me. Becoming more observant. I wonder if I would have been in tune with contrasts in life and in writing a few months ago?


Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

very interesting post.

Sunny Frazier said...

Your post made me think about "contrasts" I've set in my books. The obvious is a repressed main character with a very sexual sidekick. As with many of us, life and a job has thrown them together, unlikely friends. In my next book I decided to explore their relationship: Who is the "better" friend? And, can't we bring out the best of each other through our differences? Isn't "contrast" good?

Winona said...

Great reply, Sunny! Yes, I do think contrast is good. It adds an edge and a conflict easily addressed in actions. I like that. Your premise sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Great post Winona!

Alicia Dean said...

What an intriguing idea, Winona. Contrasts make life more interesting, so they can certainly make writing more interesting. Thanks for the great post!

Terell said...

Is it the contrast or the comparison? When a contrast was seen between the angels and the anvil a comparison was made to your and your husband and your comparable qualities. Thank you for the interesting thoughts.

Karen Kelley said...

Yep, that's what life is all about---contrast :)

Janet K Brown said...

I like that, Winona. You pointed out some good contrasts. Writing does make us more conscious of our world around us.

Linda Broday said...

Winona, I love when I can insert contrasts into my writing. You certainly said it better than me, but all we have to do is look around us. I also love it when I can add things from my life, my past, my hopes and dreams, into my stories. It really makes our stories come alive in a concrete way. I hope I get to meet you one day. Phyliss Miranda and I are doing the RRRW July talk. Maybe you can be there.

Jess said...

Really good post, Nona. Enjoyed it. Seems like you've hit the ground running with your writing. More, more!

Jan Rider Newman said...

Good observations, Nona. Thanks for sharing.

jean burgin said...

I love to see how you have grown creatively over the years. Always know I am there in the shadows cheering you on.

Judie Brunson said...

Your writing is beautiful. Informative, insightful, and beautiful. I can see your name on bookshelves. We do love horses (and donkeys)don't we!