With sunshine comes shadows, but today I also noticed reflections. The leaded glass in the front door sent rainbow bits skittering across the wall.
When I pulled out the camera to capture them, I realized there were several surfaces reflecting other things — the trees beyond the deck reflected in its puddles; a corner of the livingroom reflected in the foyer mirror; the room itself, reflected in the windows.
Reflections, whether visual or thoughtful, give us a new and different perspective of familiar things. I’m not the introspective type, but recently have had reason to spend more time in reflection. Life is a mixture of sunshine and shadows. We can mutter about the dark parts, or we can search for the rainbow bits.
That’s true for our fictional characters, too. In my first novel (one that will never emerge from the dusty depths of my closet) the protagonist suffered life setbacks that drove her into depression. She spent most of the story trying to find a way to overcome her difficulties, but her efforts were overshadowed by negativity and it was a gloomy read. After scanning its back cover blurb, even I wouldn’t be likely to pick up such a book.
In a blog post two years ago I mentioned that shadows enhance the highlights. (If you didn’t read that post you can find it here.) I’m not suggesting we should enjoy the shadows, but it helps to appreciate what they can accomplish. So, too, with reflections. They help us see things in ways that may change our outlook.
I try to remember that when I’m suddenly dropped into the shadows, and also when developing characters in my stories. They need both sunlight and shadows to give depth to their personalities and to their perception of situations. None of us lives constantly on a single bright (or dark) plane, and neither can our characters.
How do you balance sunlight and shadows in your writing?
~ ~ ~