Adding Color to Your Lines: Color Descriptions Add Depth to Your Writing

Feather colors

Color, as defined by the Oxford Dictionaries, is: “the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.”

color eyes

Using color references in your writing enhances the impact of your words like no other writing technique. Colors affect the innate sensations that the reader experience – “rosy red lips” has a very different set of visceral reactions to it than “lips bleached white with death.” Our visual imagination becomes very strong when color, especially enhanced with adjectives, metaphors, similes, or a combination of sensations are used to describe parts of our stories such as setting, characters, and actions. Here are four tips for using color references in your writing:

  1. Use colors combined with a metaphor or simile to add visual clarity and depth to the setting. Examples of this – “the sky was glowing with reds and oranges like dragonfire in the sunset,” or “Blazing red poppies lined the road like a legion of redcoats waiting to be reviewed by the Queen.”
  2. Use colors to set moods such as “The gray-metal clouds reflected the darkness in the house below” or “As I came into the room, I saw the purple rope-like veins pop out on Poppa’s red” These examples help to set the stage for what is to come next – a terror-filled story, or an angry exchange.
  3. Use colors to describe characters – “fiery red hair tumbled down her back”; “her eyes were as green as the envy she had of the girl with the yellow hair”; “the rug was as yellowed as her skin.” These examples are all descriptions that subtly influence the reader as to how they perceive what this character is like and how they might act in the story.
  4. Using Color combined with other sensations adds a big bang to your descriptions. “ The lily-white snow crunched like firecrackers as I plodded along. A whiff of smoke from the cabin reached out to me and my mouth watered at the thought of the bacon and eggs awaiting me.” The combination of vision, hearing, smelling and taste, bring alive the scene and set the imagination free.


Colors are powerful. They are one of the secrets that add pizazz to your writing. They add depth, set a mood, give clues, and subtly shape the readers understanding of what you are writing. Think about adding dashes of color to your descriptions to get deeper visceral responses to your writing.

How do you use the sensations colors represent in your writing? Feel  free to comment below.

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