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?