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Color is important to the human experience, meaning readers are hardwired to notice it. When description is necessary, think about how your color and pattern choices may be used as motifs to help symbolize an idea you want to subtly reinforce in the setting description.
LIGHT SHADES: A robin’s egg An ocean in the Caribbean Forget-me-nots Cornflowers Periwinkles Pool water Mouthwash Wide open sky
MEDIUM SHADES: Pacific blue tang fish A blue Jay A blue rose Curacao liquor The "blue screen of death" The bluebell flower A peacock feather Cookie Monster Bluing Blue beetle Blue morpho butterflies Turquoise
DARK SHADES: Denim Blueberries Stormy water Sapphires Concord grapes Ink Huckleberries Blue cheese Frostbite Bruises Varicose veins Lakes Rivers Cobalt Lapis lazuli Blue shrimp
Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. The right color comparison with a man-made or natural object will help paint an immediate picture, helping readers see the setting in a way that keeps the pace moving. When using something man-made or natural as a color comparison, choose one that is not only accurate and known to readers but also fits the mood. To feel authentic, the color choice should match the viewpoint character or narrator’s history, education, and range of experiences.
A WEAK EXAMPLE: We reached Albert too late. His eyes stared ahead, glassy and unseeing, and his lips were blue, as if he had chugged a bottle of Scope only moments before expiring.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS EXAMPLE? The comical twist at the end spoils the shock of finding a loved one dead. As well, while (most) mouthwash is blue, it doesn’t tend to stain the things it touches.
A STRONGER OPTION: We reached Albert too late. His eyes stared ahead, glassy and unseeing, and his lips were blue, as if he had eaten a handful of ripe blueberries only moments before expiring.
WHY DOES THIS EXAMPLE WORK?Comedy shifts to sadness through the suggestion of Albert doing something utterly benign moments before his death. It also highlights how fragile one's hold on life really is.