The first box of Crayons was released in 1903 and sold for a nickel a box. All right, cool trivia tidbit, but is that all? Originally, only eight (8) colors were in the box: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black – limited, even dull by current standards and certainly not enough to enhance the reading experience for today’s visually-bombarded reader. Colors have blossomed and bloomed in the past one-hundred years, and writers, just as Crayola did, need to expand their ‘color’ vocabulary.
Crayola has utilized buyer’s input to add, eliminate and re-invent color choices. Prussian Blue gave way to Midnight Blue in the 50s. Flesh became Peach during the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. Even Indian Red changed to today’s version of Chestnut. Each of these colors is a part of history and brings images to mind.
What about these colors?
Deep Sea Blue
Is there a heartbeat-flash memory? A lightning-strike of recognition? How many have never eaten Cotton Candy? Or at least been to a fair or a carnival and seen the sticky stuff? Word of caution: if the creative writing is destined for heavy distribution in overseas markets, not all of these words will apply. For most readers, however, Cotton Candy is universal and provides instant color association. Even in a 95,000-word work of fiction, no writer wants to spend ten words to produce color recognition, when one or two will do. Consider options when detailing shades. Use personal references to deepen the shades when completing creative essays, persuasive and narrative writing, short stories and novel fiction, even articles. Each of the above images belongs to my background. Writers should reflect on their own personal history to bring vibrancy and uniqueness to their color list.
Still grappling with sensory perception to dramatize better writing? Here are a few more examples to get started (the last listing in each line belongs in my Crayola box):
Purple: plum, violet, lavender, lilac, Purple Mountain Majesty
Pink: orchid, fuchsia, shrimp, carnation, rose, blush, salmon, Wild Strawberry
Gray: steel, slate, iron, dove, metallic, silver, Timberwolf
Blue: sky, aqua, Bluebonnet, navy, periwinkle, Denim
Green: lime, sea-green, kiwi, celery, emerald, grass, avocado, leaf, Granny Smith Apple
Yellow: sunshine, lemon, banana, mustard, dandelion, SunGlow
Red: crimson, blood, Christmas Red, auburn, scarlet, apple, terra cotta, Brick Red
Black: coal, ebony, asphalt, midnight, tar, ink, onyx, Outer Space
Here are a few extras thrown in:
Ghost, talc, straw, carrot, sienna, blueberry, blackberry, ocean, aqua, ruby, topaz, school-house red, fire-engine red, cinnamon, sand, clay. Be careful with ‘clay’. If you live in parts of west Texas, the color would be red clay (and dust – just ask a west Texan); if you live in north to east Texas, it would be the notorious black clay that dries to the durability of cement; if dealing with modeling or sculpting clay, the color would be slate gray.
Are you getting the point that many tangible items come with inherent color recognition? By employing this simple writing tip, any writer can immediately strengthen the reader’s enjoyment. Loss, sadness, joy, anger, and even love are images and emotions that can be enhanced by selecting the right color word. Purchase a box (super-sized) of Crayons, or an enlarged color wheel. Walk through the nearest market, the winery, the flower garden. Color descriptions will spring to mind. Spend a few moments reliving the past and thinking of shades that not only produce emotions, but bring back clear memories. Make a list of the combined efforts and keep it by the computer. Readers trust a writer to provide the most vivid journey into the world of make-believe possible. By choosing the right color word, writers can paint brilliantly hued words across the page and deepen any reader’s experience.
So spill the Crayons on the page, and color your writing!