Writing Art: Working with Light

When creating visual art, the artist utilizes light from around him, from within the painting or sculpture, and as a part of the void where his medium is not. The lighting becomes an integral piece of the final statement and smart artists spend hours ensuring that their work is displayed in the best possible light.

Image by Jack Delano, from Wikimedia Commons

For my research on noir fiction, I watched many “B” movies that practically bashed me in the head with the conscious manipulation of light. Shadows through doorways, light through vertical blinds or screens, and the headshot with light coming from behind were the most cliche. I’m always searching for fresh ways to use light in writing. Throughout my books, I describe light in fresh ways such as the cottonwood tree that’s “a random symphony of strobe lights.”

Yet most often when I bring up this aspect f my work, I’m told that most mystery authors only use light as it pertains to the feasibility of the crime or the witness.

If our work as storytellers is to create vivid images in your mind, seems we should utilize every tool we posesses for mood, for nuance, and even to highlight the voids.

Readers: Do you tend to enjoy sensations of bright, dark, flashing, etc., in your books? What authors do you find engaging the light most effectively?

Writers: How do you use or describe the light? Do you think strong manipulation of light is cliche? is it an important element in your mystery or thriller?

7 thoughts on “Writing Art: Working with Light

  1. Light makes a great motif (no pun intended). I do a lot of destination marketing writing, and much of my personal writing is about nature, so the play of light is key. (Light is also central to my life in many other ways). But it’s been a while since I consciously wrote something and thought about light. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Barbara and SarahC. Barb There is a link at he top if you are on WordPress to subscribe on your feed or you can subscribe via RSS on the left or you can get an email subscription by commenting and checking the box. I don’t really market this blog so I’m afraid I have nothing else set up. If you’re like me and hate emails, just mark it as a bookmark in your internet origram and visit at your convenience.

    And Sarah, I think I looked around your blog this morning and your post about film work. Very closely related. I will be reading you.

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