How many shades of green do you see?
As a writer you learn to pull from all areas of your life.
You take childhood moments and rearrange them for a character or their backstory. You remember a place and make that a setting for a scene. A song becomes a haunting melody in the back of your mind while writing.
When I was teaching creative writing at a school a few years ago I stole an exercise idea from an acting teacher and put it to use with my creative writing students.
“Go outside when you get home today,” I began and they all perked up at this.
“Go outside and bring me back six shades of green you find in your yard. Bring a leaf, a blade of grass or a flower if you find one and bring them in tomorrow.”
Right now, stop reading this blog and go find 6 shades of green you find in your yard or neighborhood. Don’t get in trouble. Don’t steal but go look.
Okay, are you back?
Lay them out on the table and look at them. All of them are green, right? But they are not the same green. Some are bluish, some are silver, some are deep almost black.
In your writing you have the same job. Find the shades of green.
Know that you telling your story is important because only you will see it that way. Only you will pick out the shades for your character’s personality. And only you will decide how they are going to react in a moment of challenge or peace.
Freeze, run, calm, frantic, spurred into action, love, joy, laughing, crying…all these are shades of green and all are possible to occur in any given situation.
Find the shades of green.
Thank you to Larry Moss who told me of this exercise, given to him in class when he was studying to be an actor in New York.