Sunday, 15 January 2012

Such Powerful Connotations...

What a simple but emotive word ‘black’ is…
Because of my favoured writing genre I associate it with the supernatural, the ‘Dark Arts’ and all things evil. But of course, first and foremost, it is simply the word we use to describe an absence of colour.
Oh, how the English language loves a simple word that can be twisted this way and that. I looked in the dictionary expecting to find the straightforward definition but no…. There are many more definitions - more than I could cope with. From being banned or boycotted to villainous, funereal and sable.
And then there are the add ons… Blackmail, blacklist, blackout, black death, black widow, black market, blackboard, blackleg etc. The list is endless but one thing that stood out for me is that many of these terms and words have such negative associations.  No wonder that the black community has for centuries hated the word. Although nowadays, the word is embraced and proudly used by those whose ancestry is African or African American, one can only wonder at the origin of the word. An absence of light and colour and the night sky must have been pretty scary to ancient peoples.
I defy anyone who writes supernatural thrillers to not use the word somewhere in their Manuscript. It is a word that conjures up all that one would wish when used in association with this type of writing. In any one picture or description, if it is meant to be scary or eerie, the colour black is always used. In my book "The Witcheye Gene" the antagonist has an aura which is totally black and I don't think I had to spell it out to the reader that this signified he was evil. Especially when others' auras were a variety of colours.
Such an interesting word with such powerful connotations...
For the rest, I leave you to ponder…
Do you use the word black often (apart from describing a colour) and in what circumstances?


  1. I use black in my suspense, Net Switch, but basically as a color.

    This reminds me of one of my favorite lines from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. He uses the word 'gray' to show how things were.

    "The day was gray, the color of Europe." This sentence says so much. I love it.

    Have a great day, Pat.

  2. Okay, so I just did a cntrl-F find in my own WIP, which is a paranormal/romance kind of deal...17 times. And that's not even counting synonyms for black!

  3. Funny, I love the colour Black but often use the word to describe things - my mood, the weather - and never in a good way :-)

  4. I too love the color black but always use it in my writing to describe something that is evil or sinister - in my current wip (literary fiction with a sense of mysticism) I use black and its synonyms to describe the otherworldly elements.

  5. How could I forget - you have seen my blog... it's almost all black and dark gray. Weird how you can love one color and dislike the connotations...

  6. Many thanks one and all for your great comments.. I guess we all more or less agree about the word 'black'