Color Thesaurus Entry: Purple
Posted by Angela Ackerman
Real World Comparisons
$5000 Poker chip
Barney the dinosaur
Purple Heart medal
Shades of Purple:
Mauve, lilac, heliotrope, violet, lavender, concord, plum, amaranthine
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:
Jen sank to the sandy floor of the vineyard with a contented sigh. Great purple clumps hung heavy from the branches, their violet vibrance calling her, but she'd had enough. Her hands were stained indigo and her face was sticky with concord goodness. She gave her heliotrope fingers a final lick and closed her eyes to rest.
What's wrong with this example?
The descriptions are too strong for this passage. The over-described colors overpower the simple picture of a grape-stuffed girl in a vineyard. This passage gives new meaning to the phrase "purple prose".
A strong example:
Millie tied the cords on the princess's cloak and stepped back to look her over. Her lilac dress was without blemish or wrinkle, just brushing the floor. She was too young for much jewelry, so Millie had adorned her hair with pale lavender orchids. The violet ribbon at her throat was the same shade as her velvet cloak--the royal cloak of the Humphrey family. Millie gave a crisp nod. The princess may be young yet, but there would be no doubting she was heir to the throne.
Why is this example better?
The color in this passage is symbolic--symbolic of something flamboyant and extravagant. As such, the descriptions should match. The color should be emphasized in such a passage.