In other words…Colours. Here’s something to help with colours in writing.
I recently read the first chapters of someone else’s work, by the end of which he’d repeatedly used the word ‘brown’ to describe the horses, the whatchamacallits, the whozits and the thingamagigs. He hadn’t noticed til I pointed it out. And yet he is a writer of considerable imagination and descriptive power.
Yes the dinglehoppers were brown, but why not toss in a little chestnut, or say the thingy was ‘of a shade resembling dried cow dung?’ Give your reader a chuckle.
It is true in many cases that men see colours in more conglomerate tones. There is medically proven-some difference in the receptors blah blah blah. Where most women break down purple into, eggplant, mauve, lilac, aubergine, plum, lavendar, mulberry, even dusk, men will puzzle their brows for a moment and if they’re lucky, a light bulb will float above their head and they’ll say, “Oh! Purple!” Again, I generalize.
So, addressing colours in writing. We don’t want to litter our writing with ultramarine, ivory, maroon, heliotrope, lemon, flame, wisteria, azure,cardinal, celadon, cerulean, chartreuse, goldenrod, indigo, mazarine. . . I could go on ad nausem. But neither do we want to flog ‘brown’ to absolute death.
How to deal?
1–Use a basic colour name when you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to something, but just want to paint a basic picture for the reader.
2–If you want something to be noted more specifically, tag a good adjective in front of the basic colour (avoiding clichés like ‘flaming red’), or use a step-2 colour name like mauve–a little above basic and universally known.
3–At this level you want something to stand out. When you want to imply something indirectly. For example, a lady walks into the room. “Her silver heels sparkle out from under her trailing aubergine gown, shimmering dusk in the ambient light, as does her jet black hair, looped gracefully along her neck.”
I could have said, “Her silver heels showed beneath a long purple gown”. . . Snoring. . . Instead, the first description also sets the mood in the room and gives us an impression of the woman without relaying any physical description.
Word of caution before you wax eloquent with colour descriptions: Using the variant of brown above, “a shade resembling dried cow dung,” don’t use it to describe the hair of your fianceé. And don’t use “lemon yellow chiffon” to describe the pus from a zombie infection. No reader will be able to eat lemons again.
Here’s a couple of links for fancy-pants colours to help you paint the writing town
red Alizarin crimson: