Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The power of color

“…Push your story deeper, pull your reader closer,
and lift the heart of the story out of obscurity
into a sensory world
that you and your readers can inhabit together.”

(Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir)

Take out your WIPs—your rough drafts—and let’s have fun! Let’s spice up blah words.

Today, we’ll focus on colors.

If you’ve described something as “blue,” choose a word with more punch or charm. Try sky blue, powder blue, navy, royal, denim, cornflower, turquoise, indigo, or aqua. My daughter-in-law chose periwinkle blue for her bridesmaids’ dresses. What other shades of blue come to mind?

Instead of “red,” how about fire-engine red, cherry red, tomato red, blood red, rusty red, crimson, ruby, or scarlet. What other shades of red can you think of? Leave your ideas below in the comments, or on Facebook at

Below, you’ll find a resource you’ll treasure! For now, though, this little excerpt is a gem from James Kilpatrick, a man I’ve learned from for many years:

“This is the secret of good writing:
We must look intently,
and hear intently,
and taste intently.…
We must look at everything very hard.
Is it the task at hand to describe a snowfall?
Very well. We begin by observing
that the snow is white.
Is it as white as bond paper?
White as whipped cream?
Is the snow daisy white,
or eggwhite white,
or whitewash white?
Let us look very hard.
We will see that snow comes in different textures.
The light snow that looks like powdered sugar
is not the heavy snow that clings like wet cotton.…”

James J. Kilpatrick, The Writer's Art

Here’s that new resource—I’m so excited to tell you about it!—it’s a writer’s paradise! Hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse at (I can't get this link to work, however, you can click over to it from right here on my blog—you’ll find an icon for The Bookshelf Muse in the right column, below.)

It contains a thesaurus for colors, for one thing. For example, to look up the color blue, use this link:

You’ll find red at this link:

The Bookshelf Muse offers much more than a color thesaurus. The good people there have a thesaurus for weather, another for emotion, for character traits, settings, and more. Be sure to spend time there, and return often.

Soon we’ll work on other aspects of your written pieces but for now, spice up colors in your WIPs, and feel free to start a few new vignettes. They’ll be chapters in your finished memoir. Have fun!


  1. Hey, thank you for sharing that resource! I have a hunch I'll be using it. Just love good describing words and phrases. Somehow, I don't do plain vanilla too well. :)

    Waving and grinning,


  2. Hi, Rhonda, I'm glad you like the link. What a valuable resource it seems to be!

    Hope you've had a good break and a terrific family time!


  3. Thanks for writing these great reminders. I love the quotes you have on here and will definitely look at the link you mention. Blessings.

  4. OliveTree, I'm glad you found the info useful. That's my prayer, my heart's desire. :)

    Be of good cheer,