Color Thesaurus Entry: Red
Posted by Angela Ackerman
Real World Comparisons:
Red bell pepper
Oscar red carpet
Stop signs, yield signs, no entry signs
Canadian Red Cross symbol
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.