I’ve always had a bit of a thing about the colour yellow, so I thought the penultimate creative writing prompt/exercise in this series might be a good opportunity to explore that.
I mean, yellow – it is the colour of lovely sunshine and daffodils, isn’t it? But there’s also vomit and pus.
Writing about any colour can be challenging. How do you describe it without resorting to cliché?
And what about the different shades of yellow? Pastel lemon, acid, bile, banana, buttercups, harvest moon, there are plenty. A look at a commercial paint chart will give you some ideas, too: ‘Pale Primrose’, ‘Golden Honey’, ‘Morning Glow’, ‘Buttermilk’, ‘Cornfield’ and ‘Tropical Sun’ were all in the chart I looked at. They are the nice aspects of yellow. I bet you can think of some unpleasant ones – like urine, bile, tallow, mould, fungus…
There’s a classic short story where colour is key, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in 1892.
You can read the whole story here: The-Yellow-Wall-Paper. It is just over 6,000 words long, and is of its time, the words of an unreliable narrator describing her sanity unravelling at the apparently well-meaning actions of her physician husband. The yellow wallpaper of the title is at the heart of the story. There is some very clever writing here, aside from all the yellowness. I think you will agree, this is a brilliant way of describing a child’s vivid imagination: ‘I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store.’
Anyway, back to yellow. Can you write a story featuring the colour yellow? You can make it flash fiction this week – 300 words, not including the title.
A yellow object is going to feature, probably. A hat, a lemon, a picture of a field of sunflowers, a button, a piece of broken china, a box of coloured crayons missing the yellow one. Any ideas forming? I hope so!
And while you are thinking of all things yellow, you might like to listen to Cold Play. Just because you can.
Yellow by Cold Play, from 22 years ago on You Tube (free to view, but there are ads first, sorry!). This video has had more than 727 million views. Mellow yellow, certainly!
I’ll post the final prompt in this series next week at 5pm (Dublin time) Wednesday. Why I’ve been doing this is explained here.