Color names for writers

I have made a collection of named colors gleaned from HTML color names, Pantone swatches, stones, jewels, flowers, foods, minerals, pigments, and paints. Some of them I made up out of whole cloth. Each color is presented as its hexadecimal code. Use some in your fiction! Sample color names:

  • Gamboge
  • Despair
  • Malachite
  • Flesh of the peach
  • Skin of the peach
  • Wine
  • Mahogany

You can use the complete interactive version here.

Download the whole shebang as a PNG file. Please share it! Below is a cropped bit from the reds section.

excerpt of color names for writers

Color lists for writers

My novel features an artist. As such there are many descriptions of colors, paintings, and art. Here is my multi-purpose list of colors, gleaned from HTML color names, stones, jewels, flowers, foods, and pigments/paints. See the expanded list with hexadecimal swatches here.

Basic colors:

  • black
  • blue
  • brown
  • gray
  • green
  • orange
  • pink
  • purple
  • red
  • white
  • yellow

Shades of black:

  • dark of the moon
  • charcoal
  • coal black
  • ebony
  • graphite
  • gunmetal
  • ivory black
  • mars black
  • obsidian
  • payne’s gray
  • smoke
  • slate gray
  • steel

Shades of blue/purple:

  • aubergine
  • amethyst
  • azure
  • baby blue
  • cerulean
  • cobalt
  • coral
  • cornflower blue
  • cyan
  • blue topaz
  • denim
  • eggplant
  • hyacynth
  • indigo
  • jade
  • lapis lazuli
  • lavender
  • midnight blue
  • navy blue
  • palatinate blue
  • peacock blue
  • periwinkle
  • plum
  • powder blue
  • pthalo blue
  • robin’s egg blue
  • royal blue
  • sapphire
  • sky blue
  • slate blue
  • steel blue
  • ultramarine
  • violet

Shades of brown:

  • almond
  • amber
  • beige
  • bourbon
  • burnt sienna
  • burnt umber
  • chestnut
  • chocolate
  • cocoa
  • coffee
  • cognac
  • copper
  • dirty
  • eggshell
  • flesh
  • hazel
  • hazelnut
  • leather
  • mink
  • oatmeal
  • raw sienna
  • russet
  • sandy
  • tan
  • taupe
  • tawny
  • tea
  • walnut
  • whiskey

Shades of green:

  • aqua
  • aquamarine
  • army green
  • beryl
  • chartreuse
  • emerald
  • forest green
  • grass green
  • jade
  • lime
  • olive
  • patina
  • pear
  • teal
  • turquoise

Shades of pink:

  • amarinth
  • cerise
  • hot pink
  • fuchsia
  • peach
  • magenta
  • mauve
  • orchid
  • rose

Shades of red:

  • apple
  • alizarin crimson
  • blood red
  • brick red
  • burgundy
  • cadmium red
  • crimson
  • fire engine red
  • maroon
  • perylene
  • pyrrole
  • quinacridone
  • rouge
  • ruby
  • rust
  • scarlet
  • vermillion

Shades of white:

  • alabaster
  • cream
  • diamond
  • fingernail
  • ivory
  • lace
  • milk
  • pearl
  • silver
  • titanium
  • tooth
  • whites of the eye

Shades of yellow:

  • antimony
  • cadmium
  • champagne
  • cornsilk
  • gold
  • goldenrod
  • lemon
  • ochre
  • titanate
  • tooth

Color modifiers:

  • cloudy
  • hazy
  • milky
  • neon
  • opaque
  • stained glass
  • translucent
  • transparent

In response to daily prompt Opaque.

On reading

I’ve read that to be a good writer you should read, read, read. I have lots of books on Kindle and in paper format but I have a habit of starting them and not finishing them. I’m the queen of half-finished books.

Some of the half-finished books on my Kindle or nightstand:

  • The Scarpetta Factor by Patrica Kornwell
  • Geek Love By Katherine Dunn (I read it so long ago that I consider this a fresh read)
  • Until I find You by John Irving
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir by Nick Flynn
  • Finding Hanna by John R Kess
  • By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer
  • The Judas Goat by Robert Parker
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Maybe I haven’t found the right novels to capture my interest. Many years ago (almost twenty-five years ago!) my favorite novel was Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I read it so long ago that it feels as though I’m reading it for the first time. The last book I really loved and read all the way through in recent history was Stiff by Mary Roach, but even that was a few years back. I read a few others by Mary Roach. Packing for Mars was quite good.

Does anyone else have this problem? Do you even consider it a problem? Are you an avid reader? Tell me what books you like best.


Words I am fond of, this week

That stretch of beach was redolent of seaweed.
Shades of vermillion reminded her of urban gardens in the summer.
Olympic National Park is lush and verdant.
The ubiquitous grasslands marked the horizon.
In a spasm of misplaced confidence, she quit her day job.
She might have stayed up for a second all-nighter but she was feeling a bit crispy.
She liked his voice: deep, resonant, and smooth.

Posted in response to The Poetry of List-Making

Early Breaking Bad Influences


Breaking Bad: See it if you can handle the violence

Years before Breaking Bad came on the air, there were two shows that were influential in its formation: the Homicide: Life on the Street Subway episode, and the X-Files Drive episode. All three shows are interconnected. Vince Gilligan wrote the X-Files episode of Drive as well as Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan borrowed heavily from Subway to make the X-Files episode Drive, and that in turn was a huge influence on Breaking Bad.

Drive and Subway:

  • The majority of the episode focuses on intense dialogue between one man trying to save another.
  • Lange/Crump are trapped in dire, near-death circumstance.
  • Changing their circumstances puts them in worse danger.
  • Lange/Crump are angry, distrustful and out of control at first.
  • Lange/Crump seem doomed.
  • There is a grotesque element to the plot: exploding head, man pinned under subway.
  • There is a flare of hope right before the tragic end.
  • This is not Lange/Crump’s fault.
  • Police initially aren’t sure who was responsible for the crime.
  • Mulder/Pembleton walk away deeply saddened.

Drive and Breaking Bad:

  • Same intense writing by Vince Gilligan.
  • Crump/White are dying (at least initially, in White’s case).
  • Crump/White are in a race against time.
  • Crump/White are in dire circumstances to save themselves or their families.
  • Crump/White make morally questionable judgments.
  • Crump/White will kill in desperation.
  • Crump/White have an unstoppable energy.

I binge-watch TV

I binge-watch tv. As mentioned in a previous post, I recommend that you consume your television as you do your food. Pair up your television choices to maximize your emotional well-being at the end of the experience. I like to pair up a bitter edgy drama with a nice calming popcorn comedy. I like to end the evening on a calm note.

But how often should you watch television? In this age of endless choices, we can watch an entire series in a weekend. In a day, even. I often do. Is this good for me? What do I miss out on when I do? Is it healthy to forgo the art I might have been making, the social contact? Or is tv a welcome intellectual and emotional adventure, albeit 10 episodes at a time? How much is too much?

To give you an idea, I’m a serious binge-watcher. When I had a bad breakup, I watched all episodes of Arrested Development in a row. I never laughed so hard in my life. Good laughter. I am forever grateful for those stupid shows. I don’t remember exactly how long it took, but it was a very accelerated period. I watched all episodes of House of Cards in one evening. There was no way I was going to let my eyes turn away from Kevin Spacey‘s creepy mug. I mean, eesh. Here are other shows that I have watched through one episode after another:

In some cases I watched television while doing something else (art, writing emails, paying bills, exercise). It’s only for the highest quality shows that I pay strict attention. In some cases the series spanned such a long time that I binged sections of it at a time in between “life”.

I believe I am making active, intelligent choices about what I watch. One of my favorite activities is mulling over the movie or television descriptions on Hulu or Netflix, reading reviews, and reading about directors. I have rated almost 3000 items on Netflix, so its recommendation algorithm is uncanny. If Netflix and OKCupid combined forces, they’d form one hell of a dating company. Netflix has me all figured out. Also, binge-watching is the only way I can really follow story arc, character development, plot. If I watch episodes separated by too much time, I lose all that. My interest would also wane. I have a short attention span. It’s like picking up some long-lost thing and having to thread the needle again before the story can get going. It just doesn’t work for me.

But still, I am a little conflicted. In my metaphor of television as food, I wouldn’t eat ten meals in a row. I’d have some problems. And am I missing out on art? Exercise? Friends?

Soooo. Hm! Jury is out. I’m probably going to continue binge-watching, but I don’t have a great justification for why it is better than getting off your butt other than “I like it.”

What do you think?

Watch your television like you eat your food

I like scary and edgy shows. A lot of people do. Breaking Bad is a runaway success. The Aliens franchise spanned decades. Why would we continue to watch a show that is so intense that it makes us uncomfortable? There are a number of possible explanations. They validate our feelings of good and bad. We experience endorphins and serotonin after all those stress hormones have finally played out. We get to be the good guy. We get to see justice played out.

However, there’s only so much I can take. I don’t enjoy “torture porn”. I don’t enjoy shows like Saw that showcase inescapable acts of extreme pain. I especially don’t like seeing children or women being hurt in real time. I don’t like animal rescue shows that show the hurt animals – I’d rather they wait until the animals have had treatment. Shows that I used to enjoy when I was younger are too visceral for me now: Wire in the Blood, or Se7en. I have joked with my friends that I’d love Law and Order: SVU if they took out all the raping and child-crime. Maybe they can have Law and Order: Forensic Tax Crime? If only crime shows didn’t have to be so violent!

Compare that to Bones. Oh Bones, with your light-hearted banter and cutesy-pie chemistry. The crime is pretty much incidental to the character chemistry. Alright, so there’s a lot of suspension of disbelief and a good dose of silliness in order to make this show work. Well…

Here’s what I came up with: treat your television like you treat your food. Get your serious, intense course of television first, a show like Breaking Bad, and wash it down afterwards with a light bouquet of The Daily Show or even perhaps That 70s Show. Pair up a bitter edgy drama with a nice calming popcorn comedy. You should be left relaxed, not amped up, at the end of the evening. Get a little adrenalin with your first television experience, and chill out with your second. Example:

1. The Fall:

  • Gillian Anderson.*
  • Extremely well written.
  • Fast paced.
  • Edgy.
  • Violent.
  • Adult sexual content.
  • Scary!

Balance that out with…

2. Bones:

  • Popcorn.
  • Pretty innocent stuff.
  • Gross but not scary.
  • Soft and corny humor.
  • Good chemistry.

To me, television should exist to modulate your moods and enhance your experience. TV is food. Consume it wisely! I apply the same techniques to movie-watching. Requiem for a Dream was followed straight-up with some Spongebob Squarepants. For this reason I do prefer watching movies at home.

*Gillian Anderson demands an instant “must watch” for me, so I’ll bend my rules to watch her shows even if they are violent.