Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Local Color Writing

LOCAL COLOR WRITING is a term applied to writing that exploits the speech, dress, mannerisms, habits of thought, and topography peculiar to a certain region, primarily for the portrayal of the life of a geographical setting. About 1880 this interest became dominant in American literature. Bret Harte, Mark Twain and Joaquin Miller wrote of the West; Joel Chandler Harris of the South; Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman of New England.

LOCAL COLOR WRITING was marked by dialect, eccentric characters and sentimentalized pathos or whimsical humor. It lacked the basic seriousness of true realism and was content to be entertainingly informative about the surface of specific regions. It emphasized verisimilitude of detail without being much concerned about truth to the larger aspects of life. The bulk of the work done in the movement was in the sketch and the short story, although Mark Twain captured the genre perfectly in his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn especially.

It is helpful to modern writers to understand earlier movements and genres, so that some of the particular flavor of these can enter the work and add to its originality. Now we call LOCAL COLOR WRITING more accurately regional novels. WiDo Publishing has recently released two regional novels that use the local color concepts to add to the interest and originality of the stories: Mississippi Cotton by Paul H. Yarbrough and Arizona Guy by Raymond Spitzer. It is the LOCAL COLOR WRITING that adds to the charm of these two regional mysteries.


















(This post has been inspired by and in some instances, directly quoted from A Handbook to Literature, 8th Edition, by William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman)

19 comments:

  1. Awesome choice for L! I remember learning about local color in school (can't remember what grade).

    Here's my post:
    http://ham1299.blogspot.com/2011/04/to-z-challenge-l.html

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  2. Nice post. I love local color that comes through in a story.

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  3. Local color is the reason I read certain books. I love ones set in the south, revolutionary war period, or los Angeles....especially if LA gets distroyed.

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  4. I much prefer the term "local color" to "regional novels"! Local colour has depth and substance - it's not just a book about a region but the soul of that region! Take care
    x

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  5. I enjoy reading fiction with local color, to get a taste of the region and its characters, but I'd never be able to write it. There just isn't much color here in CT.

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  6. Interesting post! I love stories with local color as I can almost feel as if I am visiting the place myself, one of the things I love most about reading. Great choice for L!

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  7. These types of stories are my favorite.

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  8. One of the joys of reading is that a good book can transport you to other times and places, and local color makes the experience feel almost as real as though you'd actually been there.

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  9. Wonderful post!! I learned some things I didn;t know about. That always makes me happy!

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  10. Good 'L' - local colour can indeed bring a book to life, and enhance its realism - it's also quite interesting to live in the place being written about, as you then see it through different eyes.
    Thanks for the post!
    Karla

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  11. Very interesting post. I think we can add some local color writing in our own work without even thinking about it when we choose a setting we're very familiar with.

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  12. I loved it. It wasn't too long like the last post I read. And like Shiela, I learned something. Great post for "L".

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  13. I sometimes find the local dialect a bit difficult at the beginning, but after a while I seem to catch the rhythm.

    Local Colour....great and original choice Karen!

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  14. This is very informative for me. I don't know all the names and terms of writing. My favorite stories are local color stories. One book written long ago, perhaps in the '60's was "Confederacy of Dunces." That was local color of New Orleans and although it must be a little dated now, it still stands out in my mind.

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  15. I hadn't heard the term "local color" before. I do love books that are able to capture the flavour of a region or a time.

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  16. Adding "local color" does spice up a novel, but it needs to be done with consistency, and done well, to carry an impact. Fannie Flagg is terrific at this; so is Deborah Smith. :)

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  17. Good Post about the writing variations.

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    http://mydaughtersdreams.blogspot.com

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  18. Karen, what a great choice for L day. I've never heard the term LOCAL COLOR WRITING, but I've definitely read it!

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