How author J. Scott Fuqua does it

Everyone who meets Jonathon Scott Fuqua has the same question: How in the world does he do it?

Fuqua recently explained how a dyslexic author taught himself to write and how a colorblind painter has learned to "see" green and red.

Many writers begin a story from a point in time — a line of dialogue, a face or a scene, and build outward. Fuqua works in reverse. He starts out with the big picture and gradually zooms in for the close-up.

"I start with the story line," he says, "with a topic I want to write about.

"Next I work out the plot, and then I find the voice."

Finally, his focus becomes so narrow that he's down to the level of individual words and sentences. The author compares that process to sorting through bricks of various sizes and shapes until he finds the ones that best fit the structure he's trying to build.

"It's labor," he says. "It's like construction."

To create his watercolors, Fuqua painstakingly analyzes the "temperatures" of colors.

Over time, he has learned that different shades of red and green evoke specific reactions in his audience, even though he can't see them himself. He juxtaposes hot shades with cooler hues to create depth and to make the colors pop.

"Yellows and reds can only be hot," Fuqua says, "but a green can be hot or a green can be cold. Any dimension that you see in painting at all is based primarily on contrasting degrees of heat."

Mary Carole McCauley

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