Color Thesaurus Entry: Red


Real World Comparisons:

Light:

Rhubarb
Cayenne pepper
Strawberries
Watermelon
Radishes
Ladybugs
Fall leaves
Fire
Bloodshot eyes
Cinnamon
Raspberries
Paprika
Red ants
Zits
Haematite
Rust
Rose hips

Medium:

Red bell pepper
Oscar red carpet
Stop signs, yield signs, no entry signs
Cranberries
Canadian Red Cross symbol
Poppies
Cooked Lobsters
Cardinals
Tomatoes
Spaghetti sauce
Rooster crest
Turkey waddles
Tail lights
Blood
Cherry Jello
Holly berries
Santa suit
Rubies
Heart
Red rose
Stop light
Red Currants
Elmo
Superman's cape

Dark:

Apples
Kidney beans
Grapes
Cherries
Raw meat
Pomegranate seeds
Wine
Tongue
Salsa
Dried Blood
Bricks
Henna
Garnet
Sunsets
Port
Red Herring
Scratches
Healing wounds
Scars

Shades of Red:

Carmine, Crimson, Scarlet, Vermilion, Ruddy, Ruby, Rouge, Vermilion, Sanguine, Burgundy, Maroon, Cherry, Poppy

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

Mary checked the balance sheets again, but found the same result: the financials for all three shell companies were a deep crimson.

What's wrong with this example?

When the color has a deep symbolic meaning that is consistently referenced a certain way like red for debt (in the red), a plot device (a red herring), an idiom for partying (painting the town red) then don't mess with it--your phrasing will only appear flowery and overwritten. Save color description for when the shade is important or the color is symbolic but not boxed in by a specific idiom.

A strong example:

When our principal announced Lorna's name as our final term's Most Improved Student, I had to practically shove her off her seat to go and collect her award. Once she reached the stage though, she was grinning like crazy, her cheeks brighter than the fake poppies adorning her flip flops.

Why is this example better?

Here the red cheeks for embarrassment is a well known symbolism, but not one tied down to a specific idiom or phrasing.

7 comments:

spamwarrior said...

Yes! Another color! You're a master at description.

PJ Hoover said...

My fav color and so important in my most recent WIP! Thanks!

Danyelle said...

You gals are awesome! Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this!

Angela said...

Thanks everyone--glad this helps!

Mary Witzl said...

I always like to study your examples descriptions. The comparison between effective and ineffective uses of color makes real sense.

Roy Buchanan said...

Nicely done, Ladies. :)

Marian said...

Why are rose hips called, well, rose hips? "Hips" make me think of that part of the human anatomy. Any idea whether the botanical term has anything in common with that?

Sorry if this seems really weird and out there. :) Reading your list just put it into my head.

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