Purple Prose + Writing

Emotional Contrasts

Juxtaposition involves placing objects close together for a contrasting effect. For example: weathered/new, rough/smooth, dark/light. It’s used a lot in photography, and is a great technique for heightening the emotion within a scene of your story.

For example, in my WIP, one scene takes place in the high school hallway on Valentine’s Day. The place is decorated with red and white balloons to symbolize the joyous occasion (for some teens, I guess). As my protagonist and her potential love interest approach his locker (the meaning of the day not lost on them), she notices the principal and a cop standing next to it.

All hell breaks loose and the guy is arrested, further causing my protagonist to question a few things regarding their relationship. I’ve juxtaposed a joyous event with a negative one.

Now, I could have written the same scene, but instead of placing it in the hallway on Valentine’s Day, it could have taken place outside (on a regular school day). In the rain. The protagonist is already grumpy due to the weather. This is your standard cliché setting: bad weather foreshadowing negative event.

Which one do you think will stick out in your reader’s mind? Which one will have the greatest emotional impact?

description, emotion, imagery, scenes, setting, and more:

Emotional Contrasts + Writing