CTS Entry: Black

Real World Comparisons
Raven or crow's wing
Bird's eye
Pupil
Volcanic rock
Dirt/soil
Crow
Animal's nose
Tire
Pepper
Darkness
Night
Dried poop
Burnt wood
Ashes
Oil
Tar
Leopard's spots
Zebra's stripes
Rot
Poppy seeds
Black widow
Animal fur (notably: panther, bear, cat, horse)
Licorice
Beetle's shell
The proverbial sheep
Tuxedo
Hair
Water moccasin
Hitler's mustache
Dracula's cape
Grand piano
Ink
Coal
Onyx
Killer whales
Guns
Black jelly beans
Blood blisters
Flies
Pavement
Cast iron pans
Ripe olives
Blackheads
Bike tires
Black beans
Kiwi fruit seeds
Pirate flag
Soot
Black hole
Dung beetle
Scarabs
Priest clothing
Cavities
Fungus
Sunflower seeds
Peppercorns
Eight ball (in pool)
Bikers leather (jacket, pants, etc)

Synonyms for Black: jet, ebon, ebony, inky, obsidian, onyx, sable, sooty

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:

Once Wendy had loaded up at the buffet she sashayed to our table, smiling like she actually thought she belonged. She'd chosen a short ebony dress as her outfit this evening, which made her bloated white legs as appealing as soiled hospital linen.

What's wrong with this example?

The emphasis is more on how the black skirt makes her legs look, rather than describe the skirt itself. If the black object is important, don't let other things overrun the description.

A strong example:

Once Wendy had loaded up at the buffet she sashayed to our table, smiling like she actually thought she belonged. As she stood there balancing a heaped plate, I took a closer look at the ridiculous ebony dress encasing her chubby form. What was she thinking--a shiny number like that should make the wearer look sleek, not a dung beetle clinging to its precious meal.

Why is this example better?

It provides a simile that gives an apt image and also really says something about the nastiness of the person making the comparison.

10 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

Nice dung beetle! And great color to pick. The colors are my new favorite entries!

TereLiz said...

Just discovered your blog. Loads of fun, and a great tool to help writers polish up those drafts. Keep up the good work!

Danyelle said...

You gals are both amazing! Great list. :D

Mary Witzl said...

Love the 'soiled hospital linen legs', though (the color of mine right now, come to think of it...).

And I like dung beetles too!

Keri Mikulski said...

Always looking for color words. Thanks! :)

Jessica said...

LOL Dried poop? That cracked me up!

Big Plain V said...

Thank you. And thank you.

spamwarrior said...

The first is great... if you want to talk about her legs. But since it's about the dress... I like the second description better. Great work!

Angela said...

Glad this helps, PJ!

Welcome, TereLiz--I hope we see you often!

Thanks Danyelle! Mary, I like dung beetles too--I mean rolling a ball of poo upside down? That takes talent.

Keri, glad the color thesaurus is helping!

Jessica, Becca added that one, and I LOL'd when I read it, cause it's true!

Thanks Big Plain V!

I agree Spamwarrior--it's all about what you want to emphasize.

Have a great day everyone!

Carrie Harris said...

Yeah, there's nasty and then there's NASTY. Terrific job of getting that across without ever saying it flat out.

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