Middle Books – Part 2

A friend and I sat down for lunch a couple days ago, and all she wanted to do was complain about the book she’d just gotten done reading.  So, like I often do, I started questioning her and picking apart what hadn’t worked.  Since she’s also the one who was the unfortunate recipient of my previous “Middle Books” rant, and since the book she complained about was the latest (not last) book in a series by an author she normally loves, we ended up focusing on middle book issues.

We began with what worked:

  • It was a well-written book, with a strong plot, strong characters, and it completed its major story arcs…

Which means it’s not any of the problems that I mentioned in the previous post.  It’s not a “chapter” book, nor is it a “move the ship” book.

  • … but it was still a deeply unsatisfying read.


After some discussion, we pinned it down.

Many authors write ongoing series that have very large over-arcing plots: save the world from armageddon, win the war, stop the world-war before it starts, etc.

  • For the sake of this middle-book-problem, these series-types include both series that follow one character, and series that each book is a new set of characters on a common background.

So, the simplified picture for these types of series books would look like this:


It’s easy to see that each book significantly advances the overall arc of the series.

But what happened in the book my friend complained about –and several other books I’ve read– is:

  • While the book is obviously part of the overall series, and refers many times to the overall arc, and vital side-characters are deeply involved in the overall arc, the individual book itself doesn’t do anything to move the overall arc of the series.

That picture looks like:


And it annoys the ever-loving hell out of me when authors do this!!

Once I’ve pinned down a problem, by mental-constitution, I’m now required to delve into solutions.

In this case there seem to be two solutions:

  1. Add an external plot that moves the overall arc forward.  Just make sure to add enough of a step forward that it makes it worth the hours of my time that I spent reading the book.
    • I can hear the author now, whining “but I moved the arc forward!”  No.  You barely put your toe in the water of the overall arc.  Move the damn arc far enough to make it worth the time I spent reading the damn book!!  Umm… sorry.  Can you tell this is a pet-peeve of mine?  🙂
  2. Move the book OUT of the overall arc of the story.  Which is accomplished fairly simply by:
    • Take out all mention of the overall arc.
    • Take out as many of the overall-arc’s characters as you possibly can.

    In other words, limit the scope of the story so it’s just a story about its characters and their current situation.  This way, the book is a satisfying read because the issues within the scope of the story are satisfactorily resolved, without all the brouhaha of the overall arc hanging over everything.

    • This is going to be almost impossible to implement successfully in a series that follows one character, because that one character, by definition, is (or should be) intrinsic to the overall arc of the series.
    • It’ll be somewhat easier to implement in a series that focuses on different characters in each book, but it’ll still be very hard to do without antagonizing your long-term readers.

I can hear authors asking me: “I sold my book, it’s on the shelves, what does this matter?”   (In fact, I have had one author I once-upon-a-time LOVED ask me this question, to my face.)

It matters because you’ve created distrust in your readers and I quit buying your books… which is the topic of another post.

Anyway… thoughts?  Does this theory work?  Have you read books like this?

Middle Books

I just got done reading a book from one of my favorite authors and found myself seriously annoyed at it.  So, like I usually do, I pondered why I was so upset with the book. Because writing-wise, it was fine.  So what annoyed me?

As I pondered, I realized that it had the same problem that I’ve run across in many other middle books.  So I broadened my pondering, and pondered why middle books are often so bad in comparison to other books in the trilogy or series.

As I pondered, I drew myself pictures to define concepts better for myself.

There seem to be a two kinds of series:

  1. A series of books — no overall arcs:


  1.  A series with arcs carried over multi books:


Since I read for character, my reading repertoire contains, almost exclusively, the second type of series.  So that’s what I focused on in my further ponderings.

As I pondered, I came to the conclusion that there seem to be two kinds of problems with middle books, which can appear in either type of series, but as I said, I’ll focus on the second type of series.

First Middle-book Problem

The first problem with many middle books is that they are really the first part of the end book, or the next book.

In other words, the last two books in the trilogy are not two books, but really one book that has been split into two parts.


Since I’m an author, it seemed obvious to ask:

When you are writing a book, how do you tell the difference between two separate books, or one book in two parts?

And the answer appears to be: Look at the way the story arcs are carried between the two books.

Sure, the first book of the two may have a plot (it often doesn’t), but the story arcs that are introduced in the story are left hanging, to be finished in the next book.


Basically, the first book asks more questions than it answers.

In other words, too many questions are carried over to the next book for this book to be a satisfying reading experience.

Which led me to an extension of this issue… and a personal pet-peeve… long-standing book series, where the individual books are really “chapters” of the story, rather than whole stories in and of themselves.

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry books are an excellent example of books that are more “chapters” of the story than they are whole books that are satisfying reading experiences in and of themselves.  Her first seven Merry books, when combined together, make up one excellent book, with arcs complete enough to tell a satisfying story.  And the eighth Merry book is clearly the first “chapter” in the next “book” in the series, as it does have a minor plot, but it raises so many new story arcs that, in an of itself, it’s not a satisfying read.

How do you tell if you’re writing “chapter” books or “whole” books?

Look at the story arcs you raise and complete.  Yes, it’s nice to have arcs that cross books; they add to continuity.  But look at the book’s proportions.

In other words, look at the relative balance of the weight (importance) of the arcs raised and carried forward, to the weight (importance) of the arcs raised and completed in the book.


As should be obvious from this illustration, this type of series isn’t one that you can satisfyingly start in the middle.  The reader will have to start at the beginning of the series to have any hope of figuring out what’s going on.  Which is a problem if the author is twenty books into the series.

Second Middle-book Problem

The second problem I have with middle books  is when the middle book is only set-up for the next book.

It may have a plot, but the plot is self-contained and doesn’t advance any part of the overall arc of the series except to move to characters to the point that the next book can begin.

I call these “move the ship” books.  🙂   Because, typically this kind of book can be summed up in a sentence or two, such as: “they solved a mystery while the ship drove to planet X”, and sure the mystery was nice, but the whole purpose of the book is to move the characters to “planet X”, where the next part of the story takes place.


An author can have a “move the ship” book in the middle of a long-term series, too.


Where the plot of the third book isn’t critical to the understanding of the rest of the series, or the plot is a side-issue that could have been easily skipped or summed up in a bit of narrative backstory.  And where the plot doesn’t move the overall arc of the story-series forward… it just sets up the circumstances to move the arc forward.

I find “move the ship” books emotionally unsatisfying because if I’m reading a book in a series,  I’m looking to read a book that moves the overall arc forward, not a book that spends 400+ pages accomplishing nothing.

Then, I pondered how to tell if I’m writing a middle book that holds its own weight.

Definition of Excellent Middle Book

— It is a self-contained element of the overall story, with the weight (importance) of the individual book’s story arcs being heavy enough to compensate for ongoing story arcs.

— It provides satisfying ending for arcs raised in the book, with an obvious step forward in each (or many) overall arcs.

— It may leave overall arc(s) unsolved, and establish new ongoing arcs, but it moves them forward significant and satisfying amounts and the overall arcs are minor in relative weight (importance) when compared to the self-contained arcs.

If you’re writing a middle book, it might be worth your while to go ahead and draw out the arcs, to see what kind of book your writing.

How To Fill A Website

To pay the bills, I’m a web designer, and one of the biggest problems I run into is people who think that websites magically get filled with content.

Most prospective clients think that all they have to do is hire somebody to build their website (somebody who knows nothing about them or their business) and somehow, magically, POOF! that stranger will fill their entire site with pages and pages of content that tells everything about them, in just exactly the way they want it told… all without any input from the prospective client, and all without paying any money for it.  **sigh**  It’s one of the most frustrating parts of the business.  I tell my clients: “I know nothing about you, nor do I know anything about your business.  How in the world do you except me to write the content for your website?”

So, faced with my own issues of needing to put together a whole section of content for my Literary Midwifery business that I intend to fire-up in the near future, I’ll tell you the process I’m going through.

1) Search the web (google, yahoo, and/or other search engines of your choice) for existing businesses similar to yours.  Find 6-10 that are as similar as you can get.

2) For all of these sites, print off copies of their websites.  Print off “Services”, “Fees”, “About Us”, and all their other major pages… don’t worry about blogs and stuff like that.

3) Read through the stack of printed web pages, and with a bright-colored pen, highlight the sentences/ paragraphs/ sections that ring true to your business and your imagined website.  Don’t think too much, if something catches you eye, highlight it.

4) (I’m a big fan of sticky notes, so I did this with sticky notes and a blank spiral notebook… but you can do this directly onto a computer, if you prefer.)  Go back through all your printed web pages, and for each place you’ve highlighted, make a note of the contents of the highlighted area.  If it’s a sentence, copy the sentence.  If a paragraph or section, summarize it onto the stick note, or into the file.

5) Once you have all your notes, sort them.  Some will be easy to sort into sections corresponding to the various web pages you might need, allowing the possibility of web pages that others don’t have, or combining others’ pages into one.  Other notes will logically sort into other categories.  And, as always, allow yourself a miscellaneous stack.  🙂

6) Make a list of the different web pages that you have sorted notes into: “About Us”, “Service”, “Biography”, whatever.

7) Now that you have read through other peoples’ websites a couple times, on separate pages of your notebook (or in new files), without referring to all the notes you just sorted, write your own content for all the pages you listed in #6, and any other obvious ones.

8) Set the pages of sorted notes beside the pages you just wrote, and combine them into a coherent whole that says just exactly what you want it to say, in a clear and concise manner, without plagiarizing content written by others.

9) Type the new pages into separate files, each named with the title of the web page.

10) Send the files to your web designer, including any graphics you want on the pages, with instructions for placement… and I guarantee you that your web designer will love you to the end of your days.  🙂  Or take these files and set up your own website using the abundance of free tools available from most web hosting companies.

As you can see, this isn’t a 5-minute process, nor should it be.  The content on your website is far more important than the site’s look or feel.  So take the time to give your content the attention it deserves, and give your poor web designer a break from endless expectations of magically content-filled websites.

Plot-Driven Books

While I’ve been puzzling out the plot-intricacies of my book, I’ve been thinking a lot about plots, and plotting theory, and all kinds of plot-related things.  Which brought me to thinking about plot-heavy books… and in the midst of all my thinking, I was able to put some concepts into words that weren’t there before.

Let’s start by defining “plot-heavy” or “wholly plot-driven” as: a book with only minimal characterization and scene setting.

As I thought this, I pictured two stools:

<– One represents a balanced book, which I see as a three-legged milking stool, with the thee legs being: plot, setting, and character.

–> The other stool represents a plot-based book, which I see as a one-legged, large-based pedestal, symbolizing the book’s plot.

Therefore, because there is minimal character or setting:

A wholly plot-driven book‘s plot must be substantial, well-implemented, and unique enough to support the book on its own.

Let’s take the three parts, “substantial”, “well-implemented” and “unique” and look at each of them.


What I mean by “substantial” is that the plot premise and plot stake, must be big enough, and important enough, to carry the reader through the story.

But that definition has two new words, “premise” and “stake”.

The “premise” is the question behind the story, or the plot’s over-arcing question, and it must be perceived as important enough to the reader to keep the reader interested in turning the pages.

Even though I’m a character reader and writer, I love the James P. Hogan’s books, because I love his premises: “what would happen if our modern western society ran into a society without religion or money?” “if robots learned to reproduce what kind of society would they create?”  To me, those are big enough and interesting enough questions (handled well enough) that it was worth reading the books to see where the author went with them.

The “stake” is what’s put on the line during the course of the story.

For instance, without the assistance of setting and character, a love story’s stake isn’t big enough to support a plot-driven book, since it’s only two people’s love-life on the line.  Since romances fail all the time and people find new loves, in the grand scheme of things, a love story is a pretty small-stake story.

Whereas, thrillers, with lots of guns and dead people, or space wars, where the fate of millions of people is on the line, do much better as plot-driven books because the stakes are bigger… the fate of the community or the fate of the world.  These are big enough stakes to carry a plot-based story.


A plot-driven book must also be “well-implemented” enough to successfully pull-off an important premise and a big stake.

There’s nothing I hate more than the jacket-copy on a book that promises this huge, wonderfully complex story, and then the book doesn’t live up to the promise.

I quit reading one author (who wrote two of my favoritest books in the world) because she spent eight books leading up to this grand and glorious climax book (making major character and setting sacrifices that pretty much ruined the eight books) and the climax book fell totally flat.  I absolutely refuse to read another author who wrote the culminating book in a multi-author series of 14 books, because after all those wonderful books, hers was barely blah.  And I won’t buy another Dan Brown book because he doesn’t have the writing skills to pull off the promise of his plot.

Would Agatha Christie’s books be so popular if she didn’t do such a good job revealing the clues?  I keep buying Hogan’s books because he does such a good job actually pulling off what he says he’ll do.


BUT, being substantial and well-implemented aren’t enough to carry a plot-driven book,  the plot must also be “unique” enough to keep the reader’s interest.

With a balanced story, the author has the help of character and setting to create a unique story.  For instance, “Beauty and the Beast” has been done millions of times with many characters and many settings.  The combination of the three elements work together to make each telling of the story unique.  But the “Beauty and the Beast” plot premise is so over-done, and its stake so limited, that it’d make a lousy plot-driven story.  The reader would pick it up and say, “oh jeez, here’s another one” and put it down.

So, for a wholly plot-driven book, the plot must be unique enough that the reader picks it up, reads the jacket-copy and says “Wow! I have to read that!”.

For instance, in Dan Brown’s “DaVinci Code”, the plot-premise was that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, who escaped to France and had a kid. Even I have to admit that that plot was unique enough that I enjoyed it (too bad his implementation sucked).

And James P. Hogan’s “Minerva” books are based on “what happens if modern-day humans where to stumble upon a dead human-guy on the moon who’s been there for 50k years”.  Honestly, to me, that’s a cool premise because it shakes up every bit of history we humans think is real, that’s a pretty world-view-shattering stake.

So those are the concepts that wordified while I was ruminating plotting thoughts:

A wholly plot-driven book‘s plot must be substantial, well-implemented, and unique enough to support the book on its own.

And now, should I ever write a plot-driven book, I have the three triggers to tell me if the plot is actually enough to carry the book… not that I see myself ever writing a plot-driven book, because those pesky characters keep getting in the way and taking over my books… but it’s been a useful rumination nonetheless.

Color Words

I’m not claiming to be an expert on color words, or that this is a complete list of color words, at the time I was researching a Victorian painter and needed a semi-clue what words would have been appropriate for colors in her time. Most of this info was taken from www.dictionary.com, before they got taken over by Ask.com which ruined the site. And thanks to WordMenu and Wikipedia for the lists of colors.

– Reddish Brown


color name: color description (meaning of word), date first used [bf = before], local mainly used [Amer = Americanism], possibly another color description taken from a dictionary referenced by www.dictionary.com


  • alabaster: white and translucent (a finely granular variety of gypsum), 1400; pale yellowish pink to yellowish gray
  • argent: like silver; silvery white (Heraldry. the tincture or metal silver), 1450
  • blond: light-colored, 1475; light yellowish brown to dark grayish yellow (blonde: femenine)
  • bone: ivory or off-white (one of the structures composing the skeleton of a vertebrate), bf 900
  • chalk:  pure flat white with little reflectance (a soft, white, powdery limestone consisting chiefly of fossil shells of foraminifers), bf 900
  • Chinese white: white pigment made from zinc oxide, largely used in watercolors and for giving opacity to other colors, 1850 (zinc white)
  • columbine: dove-colored (of a dove or a plant, Aquilegia caerula, of the buttercup family, having showy flowers with white petals and white to blue sepals that form long, backward spurs), 1400
  • dove: warm gray with a slight purplish or pinkish tint (any bird of the family Columbidae, esp. the smaller species with pointed tails), 1600
  • eggshell: pale yellowish-white color (the shell of a bird’s egg, consisting of keratin fibers and calcite crystals), 1300 flake white: a pigment made of flakes of white lead: 1660 (lead white)
  • gauze: a thin haze (any thin and often transparent fabric made from any fiber in a plain or leno weave), 1555
  • ivory: creamy or yellowish white (the hard white substance, a variety of dentin, composing the main part of the tusks of the elephant, walrus, etc.), 1300
  • lead white: a pigment made of flakes of white lead: 1660 (flake white)
  • milk-white: white or slightly blue-white color, 1000
  • nacre: mother-of-pearl, iridescent layer, 1718
  • off-white: white mixed with a small amount of gray, yellow, or other light color, 1930
  • oyster: a slightly grayish white (any of several edible, marine, bivalve mollusks of the family Ostreidae), 1900; pale yellowish green to light gray
  • pearl: very pale gray approaching white but commonly with a bluish tinge (a smooth, rounded bead formed within the shells of certain mollusks), 1350
  • platinum: light, metallic gray with very slight bluish tinge when compared with silver, 1815; medium to light gray
  • pure white: the color of pure snow, of the margins of this page, etc.; reflecting nearly all the rays of sunlight or a similar light, bf 900 (white)
  • putty: light brownish- or yellowish-gray (a compound of whiting and linseed oil, of a doughlike consistency when fresh), 1635
  • silver: lustrous grayish white or whitish gray (a white, ductile metallic element), bf 900
  • snow: white color of snow (a precipitation in the form of ice crystals), bf 900
  • white:  the color of pure snow, of the margins of this page, etc.; reflecting nearly all the rays of sunlight or a similar light, bf 900 (pure white)
  • zinc white: white pigment made from zinc oxide, largely used in watercolors and for giving opacity to other colors, 1850 (Chinese white)


  • ash: light, silvery-gray color (the powdery residue of matter that remains after burning), bf 950
  • battleship gray: subdued bluish gray, American 1835
  • brindled: gray or tawny with darker streaks or spots, 1680
  • charcoal: dark grayish brown to black or dark purplish gray (the carbonaceous material obtained by heating wood or other organic substances in the absence of air), 1350; very dark grey
  • cinereous: ashen; ash-colored; grayish (in the state of or reduced to ashes), 1655; gray color tinged with black
    clouded: covered with or as if with clouds, dark region or blemish, 1600
  • dark gray
  • dove: warm gray with a slight purplish or pinkish tint (any bird of the family Columbidae, esp. the smaller species with pointed tails): 1600
  • flint: dark gray (a hard stone, a form of silica resembling chalcedony but more opaque, less pure, and less lustrous), bf 900
  • granite: (a coarse-grained igneous rock composed chiefly of orthoclase and albite feldspars and of quartz, usually with lesser amounts of one or more other minerals, as mica, hornblende, or augite), 1650
  • gray: color between white and black; having a neutral hue, bf 900
  • greige: unbleached and undyed, 1925
  • iron: silver-white metallic, bf 900
  • lead: bluish-gray metal, bf 900
  • light gray
  • merle: a bluish gray color mottled with black (the blackbird), 1905
  • moleskin: soft, deep-gray, fragile fur of the mole, 1670
  • mouse: Meaning “black eye” (or other discolored lump) is from 1842
  • mushroom : (any of various fleshy fungi including the toadstools, puffballs, coral fungi, morels, etc.) 1400
  • neutral: gray; without hue, 1450; indicating a color, such as gray, black, or white, that lacks hue; achromatic
  • pale gray
  • pelican: (any of several large, totipalmate, fish-eating birds of the family Pelecanidae, having a large bill with a distensible pouch) bf 1000
  • plumbago: soft, steel-gray to black (graphite), 1605
  • salt-and-pepper: fine mixture of black with white , 1775
  • silver gray: light brownish-gray, 1600; light shade of grey
  • slate: dull, dark bluish gray (a fine-grained rock formed by the metamorphosis of clay, shale, etc., that tends to split along parallel cleavage planes, usually at an angle to the planes of stratification), 1350; dark or bluish gray to dark bluish or dark purplish gray
  • smoke: bluish or brownish gray color (the visible vapor and gases given off by a burning or smoldering substance), bf 1000; pale to grayish blue to bluish or dark gray
  • steel gray: dark metallic gray with a bluish tinge, 1845
  • taupe: moderate to dark brownish gray, sometimes slightly tinged with purple, yellow, or green, 1915


  • atramentous: black, like ink (pertaining to ink)
  • black: lacking hue and brightness; absorbing light without reflecting any of the rays composing it’ color at one extreme end of the scale of grays, opposite to white, absorbing all light incident upon it, bf 900
  • blue-black: black with bluish highlights, 1825
  • Brunswick black: Of or pertaining to Japan, or to the lacquered work of that country; as, Japan ware (japan black), 1920
  • carbon:  (a widely distributed element that forms organic compounds in combination with hydrogen, oxygen, etc., and that occurs in a pure state as diamond and graphite, and in an impure state as charcoal) 1790
  • ebony: deep, lustrous black (a hard, heavy, durable wood, most highly prized when black), 1600
  • ink: Inky “as black as ink” is attested from 1593
  • Japan black: Of or pertaining to Japan, or to the lacquered work of that country; as, Japan ware (brunswick black), 1920
  • jet: deep black (a compact black coal, susceptible of a high polish, used for making beads, jewelry, buttons, etc.), 1400
  • lampblack: fine black pigment (a fine black pigment consisting of almost pure carbon collected as soot from the smoke of burning oil, gas, etc.), 1600
  • nigrescent: tending toward black; blackish, 1755
  • obsidian: shiny black (a volcanic glass), 1400
  • onyx: black, esp. jet black (A chalcedony [microcrystalline, translucent variety of quartz] that occurs in bands of different colors and is used as a gemstone, especially in cameos and intaglios), 1300
  • piceous: glossy black (pertaining to, or resembling pitch), 1650
  • pitch black: extremely black or dark as pitch (any of various dark, tenacious, and viscous substances for caulking and paving, consisting of the residue of the distillation of coal tar or wood tar), 1600
  • pure black
  • raven: lustrous black (any of several large, corvine birds having lustrous, black plumage and a loud, harsh call, esp. Corvus corax, of the New and Old Worlds), bf 900
  • sable: very dark; black (an Old World weasellike mammal, Mustela zibellina, of cold regions in Eurasia and the North Pacific islands, valued for its dark brown fur), 1325
  • soot: fine black (a black, carbonaceous substance produced during incomplete combustion of coal, wood, oil), bf  900
  • swarthy: a dark complexion or color, 1580


  • acorn: nut of an oak tree, bf 1000
  • amber: yellowish-brown (a pale yellow, sometimes reddish or brownish, fossil resin of vegetable origin, translucent, brittle), 1400
  • anthracene: heavy green oil (crystalline hydrocarbon, C14H10, extracted from coal tar and used in the manufacture of dyes and organic chemicals, a heavy green oil (partially solidifying on cooling), which distills over from coal tar at a temperature above 270[deg]. It is the principal source of anthracene), 1865
  • autumn leaf
  • beige: light grayish brown or yellowish brown to grayish yellow, 1860
  • biscuit: pale-brown color (a kind of bread in small, soft cakes, raised with baking powder or soda, or sometimes with yeast. [Chiefly British, a cookie]), 1350
  • bistre: yellowish to dark-brown color, a brown pigment extracted from the soot of wood, often used in pen and wash drawings, 1730
  • brindle/brindled: gray or tawny with darker streaks or spots, 1680
  • bronze: metallic brownish color, moderate yellowish to olive brown (any of various alloys consisting essentially of copper and tin, the tin content not exceeding 11 percent), 1740
  • brown: dark tertiary color with a yellowish or reddish hue, bf 1000; group of colors between red and yellow in hue that are medium to low in lightness and low to moderate in saturation
  • brunet (male of brunette): dark brown, 1890
  • brunette (feminine of brunet): dark color or tone, dark brown or black 1715
  • buff: brownish-yellow color; tan (soft, thick, light-yellow leather with a napped surface, originally made from buffalo skin but later also from other skins), 1555
  • burnt almond: 1850
  • burnt umber: dark dusky brown or dark reddish brown (earth consisting chiefly of a hydrated oxide of iron and some oxide of manganese, used in its natural state as a brown pigment), 1300
  • butternut: light-brown color (edible oily nut of an American tree, Juglans cinerea, of the walnut family), 1745
  • café au lait: light brown color (french: coffee with milk), 1765
  • camel: color ranging from yellowish tan to yellowish brown (either of two large, humped, ruminant quadrupeds of the genus Camelus), bf 950
  • Cologne brown: a medium brown color, 1850 (vandyke brown)
  • dark brown
  • doeskin: (the skin of a doe), 1475
  • Dresden: (the capital of Saxony in E Germany, on the Elbe River)
  • dun: dull, grayish brown, bf 1000
  • earth: any of various pigments consisting chiefly of iron oxides and tending toward brown in hue (the planet third in order from the sun), bf 950
  • ecru: very light brown in color (french: raw, unbleached), 1870; grayish to pale yellow or light grayish-yellowish brown
  • fallow: pale-yellow; light-brown; dun, bf 1000
  • fawn: light yellowish-brown  (a young deer, esp. an unweaned one), 1275
  • fox: (any of several carnivores of the dog family, esp. those of the genus Vulpes, smaller than wolves, having a pointed, slightly upturned muzzle, erect ears, and a long, bushy tail), bf 900; grey or reddish-brown fur of a fox
  • hazel: light golden brown  (any shrub or small tree belonging to the genus Corylus, of the birch family), bf 900; shade of brown that is yellowish or reddish; it is a greenish shade of brown when used to describe the color of someone’s eyes
  • khaki: dull yellowish brown (a stout, twilled cotton cloth of this color), 1860
  • leather: (skin of an animal, with the hair removed), bf 1000
  • light brown
  • manila: light yellow brown (1697, capital of the Philippines, gave its name to manilla hemp (1814), original source of manilla paper (1873))
  • maple sugar: yellowish-brown (sugar made by boiling down maple syrup), 1720
  • Mars brown: medium brown (a brown pigment used in painting, artificially made from an iron oxide base and characterized by strong film-forming properties and permanence); bright, somewhat yellowish, brown
  • mink: (a semiaquatic weasellike animal of the genus Mustela, esp. the North American M. vison.), 1475
  • mocha: brownish chocolate color, 1895 (mixture of coffee and chocolate, 1849)
  • negro: (“member of a black-skinned race of Africa,” 1555, from Sp. or Port.)
  • nougat: (a chewy or brittle candy containing almonds or other nuts and sometimes fruit) 1830
  • nutria: light brown fur (coypu, aquatic South American rodent resembling a small beaver) 1820, Amer
  • otter: dark brown fur (any of several aquatic, furbearing, weasellike mammals of the genus Lutra and related genera), bf 900
  • peppercorn: (dried berry of the pepper vine), bf 1000
  • pongee: (silk of a slightly uneven weave made from filaments of wild silk woven in natural tan color), 1715
  • putty: light brownish- or yellowish-gray (a compound of whiting and linseed oil, of a doughlike consistency when fresh), 1635
  • raffia: (leaf fibers of the African palm tree), 1885
  • raw sienna: yellowish-brown pigment (a ferruginous earth used as a yellowish-brown pigment), 1760
  • raw umber: brown pigment (earth consisting chiefly of a hydrated oxide of iron and some oxide of manganese, used in its natural state as a brown pigment), 1300
  • sandalwood: light to moderate or grayish brown (fragrant heartwood of any of certain Asian trees of the genus Santalum), 1515
  • seal: dark, gray brown (any of numerous marine carnivores of the suborder Pinnipedia, including the eared or fur seals, as the sea lion, and the earless or hair seals, as the harbor seal), bf 900
  • tan: yellowish brown; light brown (to convert a hide into leather), bf 1000
  • tawny: dark yellowish or dull yellowish-brown color, 1400; light brown to brownish orange
  • toast: (to brown, as bread or cheese, by exposure to heat), 1400
  • topaz:  light brown the color of topaz (yellow quartz), 1275
  • umber: brown pigment (earth consisting chiefly of a hydrated oxide of iron and some oxide of manganese, used in its natural state as a brown pigment), 1300
  • Vandyke brown: a medium brown color (any of several dark-brown pigments consisting of iron oxide mixed with lampblack or similar materials), 1850; moderate to grayish brown (Cologne brown)
  • walnut: dark-brown wood (the edible nut of trees of the genus Juglans), 1050

Reddish Brown:

  • auburn: reddish-brown or golden-brown color, 1600; moderate reddish brown to brown
  • baize: (a soft, usually green, woolen or cotton fabric resembling felt, used chiefly for the tops of billiard tables), 1580
  • bay: reddish brown, 1350
  • brick red: yellowish or brownish red, 1810; moderate to strong reddish brown
  • burgundy: a grayish red-brown to dark blackish-purple color (wine, of many varieties, red and white, mostly still, full, and dry, produced in the Burgundy region),  1672
  • burnt ocher
  • burnt sienna: reddish-brown pigment (a ferruginous earth used as a yellowish-brown pigment (raw sienna) or, after roasting in a furnace, as a reddish-brown pigment (burnt sienna)), 1760
  • caramel: yellowish brown or tan color (a liquid made by cooking sugar until it changes color), 1725
  • Castilian brown
  • chestnut: reddish brown (any of the several deciduous trees constituting the genus Castanea), 1400
  • chocolate: dark brown color (a preparation of the seeds of cacao, roasted, husked, and ground, often sweetened and flavored, as with vanilla), 1605
  • cinnamon: yellowish or reddish brown (the aromatic inner bark of any of several East Indian trees belonging to the genus Cinnamonum), 1450
  • cocoa: brown; yellowish brown; reddish brown (a powder made from roasted, husked, and ground seeds of the cacao), 1710
  • cordovan: (a soft, smooth leather originally made at Córdoba of goatskin but later made also of split horsehide, pigskin, etc.), 1595
  • fulvous: tawny; dull yellowish-gray or yellowish-brown, 1665
  • ginger: yellowish or reddish brown (a reedlike plant, Zingiber officinale, native to the East Indies but now cultivated in most tropical countries), bf 1000, (used especially of hair or fur) having a bright orange-brown color
  • henna: midway between red-brown and orange-brown (an Asian shrub or small tree, Lawsonia inermis, a reddish-orange dye or cosmetic made from the leaves of this plant), 1600
  • light red-brown
  • liver: reddish-brown color (a large, reddish-brown, glandular organ located in the upper right side of the abdominal cavity), bf 900
  • mahogany: reddish-brown color (any of several tropical American trees of the genus Swietenia), 1675
  • nutmeg: grayish to moderate brown (the hard, aromatic seed of the fruit of an East Indian tree, Myristica fragrans, used in grated form as a spice), 1350
  • ocher: ranging from pale yellow to an orangish or reddish yellow (any of a class of natural earths, mixtures of hydrated oxide of iron with various earthy materials, ranging in color from pale yellow to orange and red, and used as pigments), 1400
  • oxblood: deep dull-red color, 1705, dark or deep red to medium reddish brown
  • piccolopasso
  • reddish brown
  • roan: ((chiefly of horses) of the color sorrel, chestnut, or bay, sprinkled with gray or white), 1530
  • russet; yellowish brown, light brown, or reddish brown, 1275; moderate to strong brown
  • sand: light reddish- or brownish-yellow color (the more or less fine debris of rocks, consisting of small, loose grains, often of quartz), bf 900
  • sedge: (any rushlike or grasslike plant of the genus Carex, growing in wet places), bf 900
  • sepia: dark brown, a brown, grayish brown, or olive brown similar to that of sepia ink (a brown pigment obtained from the inklike secretion of various cuttlefish and used with brush or pen in drawing), 1570
  • sienna: reddish-brown pigment (a ferruginous earth used as a yellowish-brown pigment (raw sienna) or, after roasting in a furnace, as a reddish-brown pigment (burnt sienna)), 1760
  • sorrel: light reddish-brown (a horse of this color, often with a light-colored mane and tail), 1450
  • terra cotta: brownish-orange color (a hard, fired clay, brownish-red in color when unglazed), 1725
  • titian: a reddish-brown or golden-brown color (Italian painter who introduced vigorous colors and the compositional use of backgrounds to the Venetian school), 1580; brownish orange
  • Venetian red: dark shade of orangish red (a red pigment, originally prepared from a natural oxide of iron, now usually made by calcining a mixture of lime and ferrous sulfate), 1755; deep to strong reddish brown


  • alizarin crimson: scarlet red (a pigment used in painting, derived from anthraquinone and characterized by its red color and transparency), ?
  • alpenglow: (a reddish glow often seen on the summits of mountains just before sunrise or just after sunset), 1875
  • annatto: (lipstick tree. a small tree, Bixa orellana, of tropical America, a yellowish-red dye obtained from the pulp enclosing the seeds of this tree, used for coloring fabrics, butter, varnish, etc.), 1685 caribbean
  • blood-red: deep-red color of blood, 1300; moderate to vivid red
  • bois de rose: grayish red or dark purplish red color (french rosewood),
  • bougainvillea: (any of several South American ornamental woody vines of the genus Bougainvillea having brilliant red or purple flower bracts; widely grown in warm regions), 1789
  • Bordeaux: (red or white wine produced in the region around Bordeaux, France), bf 1150
  • brick red: yellowish or brownish red, 1810; moderate to strong reddish brown
  • brownish red
  • cadmium red: strong red (a pigment used in painting, consisting of the sulfide and the selinide of cadmium, characterized by its strong red or reddish color, excellent film-forming properties, and slow drying rate), 1890
  • cardinal: deep, rich red color (of prime importance; chief; principal: a woman’s short cloak with a hood, originally made of scarlet cloth and popularly worn in the 18th century: N.Amer. songbird (Cardinalis virginianus) is attested from 1678, so named for its resemblance to the red robes of the cardinals), bf 1150
  • carioca: (a modification of the samba), 1935; (a native of Rio de Janeiro), 1830
  • carmine: crimson or purplish-red color (a crimson pigment obtained from cochineal insects), 1705
  • carnelian: pale to deep red or reddish-brown (red or reddish variety of chalcedony, used in jewelry), 1695
  • Castilian red
  • cerise: moderate to deep red (french for cherry), 1860; deep to vivid purplish red
  • cherry: bright red (the fruit of any of various trees belonging to the genus Prunus), 1350; moderate or strong red to purplish red
  • Chinese red: vivid red to reddish orange (bright red mercuric sulfide used as a pigment), 1895 (vermilion, cinnabar)
  • cinnabar: vivid red to reddish orange (bright red mercuric sulfide used as a pigment), 1400 (vermilion, chinese red)
  • claret: deep purplish red (the red table wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France: originally it was light red or yellowish), 1400
  • cochineal: vivid red (a red dye prepared from the dried bodies of the females of the cochineal insect), 1585
  • cranberry: (the red, acid fruit or berry of certain plants of the genus Vaccinium), 1640, Americanism
  • crimson: deep purplish-red, 1425
  • crimson lake
  • damask: pink color of the damask rose (a reversible fabric of linen, silk, cotton, or wool, woven with patterns), 1250
  • dark red
  • faded rose
  • fire-engine red: very bright red color, ?
  • garnet: deep-red color (any of a group of hard, vitreous minerals, silicates of calcium, magnesium, iron, or manganese with aluminum or iron, varying in color), 1325; dark to very dark red
  • geranium: vivid red color (any of numerous plants of the genus Geranium), 1550
  • grenadine: (a syrup made from pomegranate juice), 1710
  • gules: red (the tincture red), 1350
  • indian red: reddish-brown color (iron oxide used as a paint and cosmetic pigment), 1755
  • iron red: (Iron Red is a saturated iron red glaze with a crystalline semi gloss surface. The glaze surface has flecks of crystalline iron, which give it a metallic look. The overall color is burgundy)
  • jockey: (a person who rides horses professionally in races) 1530
  • light red
  • lobster: (any of various large, edible, marine, usually dull-green, stalk-eyed decapod crustaceans of the family Homaridae, esp. of the genus Homarus, having large, asymmetrical pincers on the first pair of legs, one used for crushing and the other for cutting and tearing: the shell turns bright red when cooked; Slang for “a British soldier” since 1643, originally in reference to the jointed armor of the Roundhead cuirassiers, later (1660) to the red coat.), bf 1000
  • madder lake: strong purple-red color (a pigment of this color formerly obtained from the madder root, characterized chiefly by lack of permanence). 1825 (rose madder)
  • maroon: dark brownish-red, 1595
  • Mars red: deep red-orange color (red pigment used in painting, artificially made from an iron oxide base and characterized by strong film-forming properties and permanence), 1895
  • murrey: dark purplish-red color, 1425 (mulberry)
  • orange-red
  • oxblood: deep dull-red color, 1705, dark or deep red to medium reddish brown
  • paprika: dark to deep or vivid reddish orange (a red, powdery condiment derived from dried, ripe sweet peppers), 1900
  • peach: light pinkish yellow (the subacid, juicy, drupaceous fruit of a tree, Prunus persica), 1375
  • Persian red
  • pinkish red
  • ponceau: vivid red to reddish-orange color (any of several azo dyes (as Biebrich scarlet) giving red colors and used as biological stains), 1835
  • poppy: vivid red to reddish orange (any plant of the genus Papaver, having showy, usually red flowers), bf 900
  • Prussian red
  • puce: dark or brownish purple: 1780; deep red to dark grayish purple
  • red: any of various colors resembling the color of blood; the primary color at one extreme end of the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 610 and 780 nm, bf 900
  • rhodamine: synthetic red to pink dyes having brilliant fluorescent qualities  (a red dye obtained by heating an alkyl aminophenol with phthalic anhydride), 1890; yellowish red to blue fluorescent dyes
  • rose madder: strong purple-red color (a pigment of this color formerly obtained from the madder root, characterized chiefly by lack of permanence). 1890 (madder lake)
  • ruby: deep red; carmine (a red variety of corundum, used as a gem), 1325; dark or deep red to deep purplish red
  • rust: reddish yellow, reddish brown, or yellowish red  (the red or orange coating that forms on the surface of iron when exposed to air and moisture), bf 900
  • scarlet: bright-red color inclining toward orange, 1250
  • stammel: bright red (The red color of a coarse woolen cloth sometimes used for undergarments), middle english
  • strawberry: red (the fruit of any stemless plant belonging to the genus Fragaria), bf 1000
  • tile red: light red like the color of tiles or bricks, ?
  • Tyrian purple: a vivid, purplish red, 1585
  • Venetian red: dark shade of orangish red (a red pigment, originally prepared from a natural oxide of iron, now usually made by calcining a mixture of lime and ferrous sulfate), 1755; deep to strong reddish brown
  • vermilion: vivid red to reddish orange (bright red mercuric sulfide used as a pigment), 1300 (Chinese red, cinnabar)
  • wild cherry: (the fruit of the wild cherry tree), ?
  • wine: dark reddish color (the fermented juice of grapes), bf 900


  • begonia: (any tropical plant belonging to the genus Begonia), 1710
  • blush: rosy or pinkish (to redden, as from embarrassment or shame), 1325
  • cameo: (a technique of engraving upon a gem or other stone, as onyx, in such a way that an underlying stone of one color is exposed as a background for a low-relief design of another color), 1425
  • carnation: pink; light red (any of numerous cultivated varieties of the clove pink, Dianthus caryophyllus), 1535
  • casino pink
  • coral: reddish yellow; light yellowish red; pinkish yellow (the hard, variously colored, calcareous skeleton secreted by certain marine polyps), 1325; deep or strong pink to moderate red or reddish orange
  • damask: pink color of the damask rose (a reversible fabric of linen, silk, cotton, or wool, woven with patterns), 1250
  • deep pink
  • fiesta: (any festival or festive celebration), 1845
  • flamingo: moderate reddish orange  (any of several aquatic birds of the family Phoenicopteridae), 1565
  • hot pink: wikipedia: This intense magenta was called shocking pink in the 1930s, hot pink in the 1950s, and kinky pink in the 1960s
  • incarnadine: blood-red; crimson, flesh-colored; pale pink, 1595
  • livid pink: (livid:  1. Discolored, as from a bruise; black-and-blue. 1622, 2. Ashen or pallid: a face livid with shock.3. Extremely angry; furious. 1912)
  • mallow pink: (mallow: Any of various plants of the genus Malva, having pink or white axillary flowers, palmate leaves, and disklike schizocarpic fruits., bf 1000)
  • melon: medium crimson or deep pink (the fruit of any of various plants of the gourd family, as the muskmelon or watermelon), 1400
  • moonlight: (the light of the moon), 1375
  • nymph: (one of a numerous class of lesser deities of mythology, conceived of as beautiful maidens inhabiting the sea, rivers, woods, trees, mountains, meadows, etc., and frequently mentioned as attending a superior deity), 1400
  • ombre: (A card game, played by three players with 40 cards, that was popular in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries), 1650
  • orchid rose
  • pale pink: a light, desaturated shade of pink
  • peach: light pinkish yellow (the subacid, juicy, drupaceous fruit of a tree, Prunus persica), 1375
  • petal pink
  • pink: a color varying from light crimson to pale reddish purple, 1575; Any of a group of colors reddish in hue, of medium to high lightness, and of low to moderate saturation
  • reddish pink
  • rose: dark pink to moderate red (any of the wild or cultivated, usually prickly-stemmed, pinnate-leaved, showy-flowered shrubs of the genus Rosa), bf 900
  • royal pink
  • salmon: light yellowish-pink (a marine and freshwater food fish), 1250; moderate, light, or strong yellowish pink to a moderate reddish orange or light orange
  • shell pink: delicate whitish to yellow pink, 1890
  • shocking pink: vivid or intensely bright pink, 1940
  • solferino: vivid purplish pink, 1859
  • tea rose: pale to strong yellowish pink  (any of several cultivated varieties of roses having a scent resembling that of tea), 1850


  • apricot: pinkish yellow or yellowish pink (the downy, yellow, sometimes rosy fruit, somewhat resembling a small peach, of the tree Prunus armeniaca), 1555; a moderate, light, or strong orange to strong orange yellow
  • aurora: (a brilliant display of bands or folds of variously colored light in the sky at night, especially in polar regions), 1400
  • burnt Roman ocher: a deep, rich orange color, transparent and durable, used by artists
  • cadmium orange: a yellow color approaching orange (orange-hued cadmium yellow pigment), 1895
  • carotene: yellow or orange-red (an orange isomer of an unsaturated hydrocarbon found in many plants), 1865
  • carrot: deep orange (a plant, Daucus carota), 1535
  • chrome orange: The color of the pigment can range from light to deep orange, the hiding power is excellent, Alternative names: Derby red, Persian red, Victoria red (1809-1900)
  • copper: metallic reddish brown (a malleable, ductile, metallic element having a characteristic reddish-brown color), bf 1000
    dark orange
  • helianthin: (an artificial, orange dyestuff), 1885; (an orange-yellow, slightly water-soluble powder)
  • mandarin: The type of small, deep-colored orange so called from 1771, from resemblance of its color to that of robes worn by mandarins (“Chinese official,”).
  • marigold: 1373, marygolde, from Mary (probably a reference to the Virgin) + gold, for color. The O.E. name for the flower was simply golde.
  • mikado
  • ocher: ranging from pale yellow to an orangish or reddish yellow, 1400
  • orange:a color between yellow and red in the spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 590 and 610 nm; reddish yellow, 1542
  • pale orange
  • pumpkin: moderate to strong orange, 1654
  • realgar: arsenic disulfide, As2S2, found in nature as an orange-red mineral and also produced artificially: used in pyrotechnics, 1400
  • red-orange
  • Rubens’ madder: The russet known as Rubens’ madder has a tendency to orange.
  • Spanish ocher: very bright yellow
  • tangerine: deep orange; reddish orange, 1899
  • terra cotta: brownish-orange color (a hard, fired clay, brownish-red in color when unglazed), 1725
  • yellow-orange


  • amber: the color of amber; yellowish-brown, 1400
  • auramine: a yellow, crystalline solid, C17H22ClN3, soluble in water, alcohol, and ether, used chiefly as a dye for paper and leather, 1885
  • aureolin: a pigment used in painting, consisting of potassium cobaltinitrite and characterized by its brilliant yellow hue, transparency, and permanence (cobalt yellow), 1880
  • azo yellow: medium shade yellow pigment
  • barium yellow: a yellow, crystalline compound, BaCrO4, used as a pigment (barium chromate)
  • blond (blonde: feminine): Of a flaxen or golden color or of any light shade of auburn or pale yellowish brown, 1485
  • brass: metallic yellow; lemon, amber, or reddish yellow, bf 1000
  • brazen: Resembling brass, as in color or strength, bf 1000
  • brazilin: a yellow, water-soluble, needlelike, crystalline solid, obtained from brazil and sappanwood: used as a dye and an indicator, 1865
  • buff: brownish-yellow color; tan, 1580: the yellowish-beige color of buff leather
  • butter: soft yellowish of butter, bf 1000
  • cadmium yellow: a pigment used in painting, consisting of cadmium sulfide and characterized by its strong yellow color and permanence, 1875
  • calendula: Also called pot marigold. a composite plant, Calendula officinalis, widely cultivated for its showy, many-rayed orange or yellow flower heads, 1875
  • canary: a light, clear yellow color, 1595
  • Cassel yellow: a lemon-yellow color, 1885
  • chalcedony: a microcrystalline, translucent variety of quartz, often milky or grayish, 1325
  • chamois: a medium to grayish yellow color, 1535
  • champagne: a very pale yellow or greenish-yellow color, 1665
  • chrome yellow: any of several yellow pigments in shades from lemon to deep orange, composed chiefly of chromates of lead, barium, or zinc, 1820
  • citron: a grayish-green yellow color (a pale-yellow fruit resembling the lemon but larger and with thicker rind), 1425
    corn: the color of corn, 1620
  • cream: a yellowish white; light tint of yellow or buff
  • crocus: a deep yellow; orangish yellow; saffron, 1400
  • dandelion: golden-yellow, 1515: brilliant to vivid yellow
  • flax: pale grayish yellow, 1523
  • gamboges: yellow or yellow-orange, 1635
  • gold: bright, metallic yellow color, sometimes tending toward brown, bf 900
  • goldenrod: strong to vivid yellow, 1570
  • green-yellow
  • honey: having the color of honey, yellowish or brownish, bf 900
  • Indian yellow: orange-yellow, Also called purree. A yellow pigment formerly derived from the urine of cows fed on mango leaves. A pigment derived from coal tar, characterized chiefly by its yellow color and permanence, 1870
  • jonquil: a narcissus, Narcissus jonquilla, having long, narrow, rushlike leaves and fragrant, yellow or white flowers, 1630
  • lemon: a clear, yellowish-green color, 1810, a moderate to brilliant vivid yellow
  • linen: , bf 900
  • maize: a pale yellow resembling the color of corn, 1555
  • mustard: dark yellow to light olive brown, 1848
  • Naples yellow: a poisonous pigment used in painting and enameling, consisting chiefly of lead antimoniate and characterized by its fugitive yellow color, rapid drying rate, and strong film-forming properties, also called antimony yellow, 1740
  • orange-yellow
  • orpiment: a mineral, arsenic trisulfide, As2S3, found usually in soft, yellow, foliated masses, used as a pigment, 1400
  • pale yellow: a variable yellow tint; dull yellow, often diluted with white
    palomino: a horse with a golden coat, a white mane and tail, and often white markings on the face and legs, 1910, Amer
  • pear: , bf 1000
  • primrose: pale yellow, 1425
  • purree: having the color Indian yellow, orange-yellow, 1855
  • quince: yellowish, either of two small trees of the rose family, bearing hard, fragrant, yellowish fruit used chiefly for making jelly or preserves, 1325
  • reed
  • saffron: yellow-orange, 1200
  • safranine: any of a class of chiefly red organic dyes, 1870
  • sallow: of a sickly, yellowish color, bf 1000
  • sand: a light reddish- or brownish-yellow color, bf 900
  • snapdragon: (any plant belonging to the figwort family, cultivated for its spikes of showy flowers, each having a corolla supposed to resemble the mouth of a dragon, 1575)
  • straw: of the color of straw; pale yellow, bf 950
  • sulphur/sulfur: yellow with a greenish tinge; lemon color, 1350
  • sunflower: brilliant yellow to strong or vivid orange yellow, 1565
  • wheaten: of the color of wheat, esp. a pale yellow-brown color, bf 900
  • yellow: a color like that of egg yolk, ripe lemons, etc.; the primary color between green and orange in the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 570 and 590 nm., bf 900
  • yellow ocher: ranging from pale yellow to an orangish or reddish yellow (any of a class of natural earths, mixtures of hydrated oxide of iron with various earthy materials, ranging in color from pale yellow to orange and red, and used as pigments), 1400
  • yolk: the yellow and principal substance of an egg, bf 1000


  • absinthe: a green, aromatic liqueur, 1615
  • aqua: a light greenish-blue color, 1400
  • avocado: a dull green, 1947
  • beryl: A usually green or bluish-green hexagonal mineral occurring as transparent to translucent prisms in igneous and metamorphic rocks. Transparent varieties, such as emeralds and aquamarine, are valued as gems, 1305
  • bice: A pale blue pigment, Green bice is prepared from the blue, by adding yellow orpiment, or by grinding down the green carbonate of copper, ?
  • blue-green: a color about midway between blue and green in the spectrum, 1855
  • brewster
  • Brunswick green: an oxychloride of copper, used as a green pigment; also, a carbonate of copper similarly employed
    cadmium green: a pigment used in painting, consisting of a mixture of hydrated oxide of chromium with cadmium sulfide, and characterized by its strong green color and slow drying rate, 1935
  • celadon: a pale gray-green, 1770
  • chartreuse: a clear, light green with a yellowish tinge, 1870
  • chrome green: very dark yellowish green to moderate or strong green, 1880
  • clair de lune: a pale-green color, a very pale blue color, tinged with lavender, used as a glaze on Chinese porcelain, 1880
  • corbeau
  • cucumber: (a creeping plant, Cucumis sativus, of the gourd family, occurring in many cultivated forms, 1400)
  • cypress: (any of several evergreen coniferous trees constituting the genus Cupressus, having dark-green, scalelike, overlapping leaves, bf 1000)
  • dark green
  • drake
  • emerald: a clear, deep-green color, 1300
  • fir green
  • flagstone (rock, as sandstone or shale, suitable for splitting into flagstones, 1730)
  • forest green: an olive-green color, 1810  (also Lincoln green)
  • grass green: yellowish green, a moderate yellow-green to strong or dark yellowish-green
  • gray-green: of green tinged with grey
  • green: of the color of growing foliage, between yellow and blue in the spectrum, bf 900
  • green earth: a pigment used in painting consisting mainly of iron silicate, characterized chiefly by its variable grayish-green hue, lack of tinting strength, and permanence (also called terra verde), 1795
  • gunpowder: (Also called gunpowder tea. a fine variety of green China tea, each leaf of which is rolled into a little ball, 1800s)
  • holly: any of numerous trees or shrubs of the genus having glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, bf 1150
  • jade: green, varying from bluish green to yellowish green, 1595
  • kelly green: a strong yellow-green, 1940, Amer.
  • Kendal green: a shade of green produced by a dye extracted from the woadwaxen plant, 1505
  • leaf: as in the green of a leaf, bf 900
  • light green
  • lime: greenish yellow, 1625
  • Lincoln green:  an olive-green color (A color of cloth formerly made in Lincoln, England; the cloth itself), 1510
  • lizard
  • loden: deep olive-green (a thick, heavily fulled, waterproof fabric, used in coats and jackets for cold climates), 1915
  • lotus
  • malachite: A light to dark green carbonate mineral, 1350
  • marine
  • mint: (any member of the mint family of plants), bf 1000
  • moss green: a moderate to dark yellow-green color, 1885
  • myrtle green: dark green with bluish tinge, 1400
  • Niagara green: a light bluish green, 1935
  • Nile green: pale bluish green, 1890: a moderate yellow green to vivid light green
  • olive green: green with a yellowish or brownish tinge, 1760
  • pale green
  • parrot
  • patina: (a film or incrustation, usually green, produced by oxidation on the surface of old bronze and often esteemed as being of ornamental value, 1750)
  • pea green: a medium or yellowish green, 1745
  • pistachio green: a light or medium shade of yellow green, 1800
  • reseda: a light or medium shade of yellow green (like the flowers of the mignonette), 1755
  • sea green: a clear, light, bluish green, 1600
  • serpentine: (a common mineral, usually oily green and sometimes spotted, occurring in many varieties: used for architectural and decorative purposes, 1400)
  • shamrock: (any of several trifoliate plants, as the wood sorrel, 1575)
  • spruce: grayish green to dark greenish black, 1400
  • teal: a medium to dark greenish blue (small freshwater duck), 1923
  • terre verte: a grayish-green color (also called green earth), 1660
  • tourmaline: (any of a group of silicate minerals of complex composition, containing boron, aluminum, etc., usually black but having various colored, transparent varieties used as gems) 1760
  • turquoise: greenish blue or bluish green, 1400
  • verdigris: (a green or greenish blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on copper, consisting of one or more basic copper acetates, and formerly used in medicine), 1300
  • viridian: a long-lasting, bluish-green pigment, consisting of a hydrated oxide of chromium (also called veridian), 1885
  • willow (green: any of numerous deciduous trees and shrubs of the genus Salix, bf  900)
  • yellow-green: a color containing both yellow and green, 1770
  • yew: (any of several evergreen, coniferous trees and shrubs of the genera Taxus and Torreya, bf 900)


  • aqua: a light greenish-blue color, 1400, 1936
  • aquamarine: light blue-green or greenish blue, 1846
  • azure: a light, purplish blue, 1325
  • baby blue: a very light blue, 1890
  • bice: a pale blue pigment, ?
  • blue: the pure color of a clear sky; the primary color between green and violet in the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 450 and 500 nm, 1300
  • blueberry: (sweet edible dark-blue berries of blueberry plants, 1710)
  • bluebonnet: (a blue-flowered lupine, having spikes of light blue flowers with a white or yellow spot, 1685)
  • calamine blue
  • cerulean: deep blue; sky blue; azure, 1670
  • clair de lune: a pale-green color, a very pale blue color, tinged with lavender, used as a glaze on Chinese porcelain, 1880
  • cobalt blue: a deep blue to a strong greenish-blue color, 1835
  • Copenhagen blue: gray-blue
  • cornflower: a deep, vivid blue, 1580
  • cyan blue: a moderate greenish-blue to bluish-green color, 1880
  • Delft blue: (between 1600 and 1800 Delft was one of the most important ceramics producers in Europe, with distinctive blue and white patterns)
  • Dresden blue: (dusty country blue, ceramics with distinctive blue color)
  • flag blue
  • gentian: any of several plants of the genera Gentiana, Gentianella, and Gentianopsis, having usually blue flowers, 1400
  • greenish blue: a shade of blue tinged with green
  • Havana lake
  • Helvetia blue: (also known as Cotton blue, Methyl blue, Acid blue 93, or C.I. 42780 is a chemical compound used as a stain in histology)
  • huckleberry: (the dark-blue or black edible berry of any of various shrubs belonging to the genus Gaylussacia of the heath family, 1670, Amer)
  • hydrangea: (any shrub belonging to the genus Hydrangea, cultivated for their large, showy flower clusters of white, pink, or blue, 1753)
  • ice blue: a very pale blue color
  • Indanthrene: (a blue, crystalline, water-insoluble solid used as a dye for cotton and as a pigment in paints and enamels)
    indigo: a color ranging from a deep violet blue to a dark, grayish blue, 1555
  • jouvence
  • lapis lazuli: a sky-blue color; azure, 1400
  • light blue
  • Lucerne: (important European leguminous forage plant with trifoliate leaves and blue-violet flowers grown widely as a pasture and hay crop, alfalfa, 1630)
  • lupine: (any plant of the genus Lupinus; bearing erect spikes of usually purplish-blue flowers, 1398)
  • marine
  • Methyl blue: (also known as Cotton blue, Helvetia blue, Acid blue 93, or C.I. 42780) is a chemical compound used as a stain in histology.
  • midnight blue: a dark shade of blue, close to black, that was named for its darkness
  • milori
  • Napoleon blue
  • navy blue: a dark blue, 1840
  • pale blue
  • peacock blue: a lustrous greenish blue, as of certain peacock feathers, 1885
  • periwinkle: a pale purplish blue, 1500
  • powder blue: a pale blue diluted with gray, 1710
  • Prussian blue: a moderate to deep greenish blue, 1725
  • purple-blue: of blue tinged with purple
  • reddish blue: a variable color that lies beyond blue in the spectrum, violet
  • royal blue: a deep blue, often with a faint reddish tinge, 1820, a bright, darkish blue, a deep to strong blue
  • saxe blue
  • sea blue
  • sky blue: the color of the unclouded sky in daytime; azure, 1730
  • smalt: a deep blue paint and ceramic pigment produced by pulverizing a glass made of silica, potash, and cobalt oxide, 1560
  • steel blue: dark bluish gray, 1820
  • teal blue: a medium to dark greenish blue (small freshwater duck), 1923
  • turquoise: greenish blue or bluish green, 1400
  • ultramarine: a deep-blue color, 1600
  • Venetian blue: a strong blue similar to cobalt blue, 1840
  • water blue
  • Wedgwood blue
  • wisteria: (any climbing shrub belonging to the genus Wisteria, of the legume family, having showy, pendent clusters of blue-violet, white, purple, or rose flowers, 1818)
  • woad: (a European plant, Isatis tinctoria, of the mustard family, formerly cultivated for a blue dye extracted from its leaves, bf 1000)
  • zaffer: (an artificial mixture, resembling smalt, containing cobalt oxide and, usually, silica, used to produce a blue color in glass and in ceramic glazes, 1665)


  • amaranth: A deep reddish purple to dark or grayish, purplish red, 1551: a red acid azo dye that is used chiefly in coloring foods, beverages, and pharmaceutical preparations and in dyeing wool and silk
  • amethyst: a purplish tint, 1300: a moderate purple to grayish reddish purple
  • Argyle
  • aubergine: a dark purplish color, 1795, British. (eggplant)
  • blue-violet: of violet tinted with blue
  • bluish purple
  • bokhara
  • campanula: (any of various plants of the genus Campanula, which includes the harebell, bellflower, and Canterbury bells, 1665)
  • clematis: (any of numerous plants or woody vines of the genus Clematis, including many species cultivated for their showy, variously colored flowers, 1555)
  • dahlia: a pale violet or amethyst color, 1791
  • damson: a medium to dark violet, 1400
  • deep purple
  • fuchsia: a bright, purplish-red color, 1755
  • gentian violet: a violet dye derived from rosaniline, used in chemistry as an indicator and in medicine as a fungicide, bactericide, anthelmintic, and in the treatment of burns, 1900
  • grape: a dull, dark, purplish-red color, 1250
  • gridelin: color mixed of white, and red, or a gray violet
  • heather: grayish purple to purplish red, 1350
  • heliotrope: a light tint of purple; reddish lavender, 1590
  • hyacinth: deep purplish blue to vivid violet (a bulbous Mediterranean plant (Hyacinthus orientalis) ), 1555
  • imperial purple
  • lavender: a pale bluish purple, 1275
  • light purple
  • lilac: pale reddish purple, 1791 (lilac as a scent, 1895)
  • magenta: a deep purplish red, 1860
  • mauve: a pale bluish purple, 1860: a moderate grayish violet to moderate reddish purple
  • monsignor
  • mulberry: a tree of this genus, as M. rubra (red mulberry or American mulberry) bearing dark-purple fruit, 1275
  • orchid: bluish to reddish purple (any terrestrial or epiphytic plant of the family Orchidaceae, of temperate and tropical regions, having usually showy flowers), 1845
  • pale purple
  • pansy: a deep to strong violet (a violet, Viola tricolor hortensis, cultivated in many varieties, having richly and variously colored flowers, 1500)
  • periwinkle: a pale purplish blue, 1500
  • phlox: (any plant of the genus Phlox, of North America, certain species of which are cultivated for their showy flowers of various colors, 1605)
  • plum: a deep purple varying from bluish to reddish, bf 900
  • prune: (dried plum, 1345)
  • purple: any color having components of both red and blue, such as lavender, esp. one deep in tone, bf 1000
  • raisin: dark purplish blue, 1400
  • raspberry: a dark reddish-purple color, 1625
  • reddish purple: a shade of purple tinged with red
  • royal purple: a deep bluish purple, 1665
  • rubine
  • solferino: vivid purplish pink, 1859
  • tulip: (any of various plants belonging to the genus Tulipa cultivated in many varieties, and having lance-shaped leaves and large, showy, usually erect, cup-shaped or bell-shaped flowers in a variety of colors, 1580)
  • Tyrian purple: a vivid, purplish red, 1585
  • violet: reddish-blue, a color at the opposite end of the visible spectrum from red, an effect of light with a wavelength between 400 and 450 nm., 1350
  • violetta

Excel Character Sheet (1)

Instead of working yesterday, I spent the day designing a new character sheet.

My problem is that my characters evolve very quickly. I start out with a bunch of walk-on characters and within half a book they’ve evolved into full-blown characters with their own stories. And I’m really sick and tired of having to switch from this character sheet to that one, or having a one-size-fits-all sheet that ends up 90% blank for some characters. And then I have characters across multiple books and I need to keep track of changes they make within each book.

So my challenge was to make one character sheet that would take me from wallpaper character to primary character, without having to redo stuff or have tons of blank pages cluttering up my notebook. At the same time making it accessible, easy to use, and print nicely.

I ended up working it out in Excel, using its outlining feature.

When the outline is collapsed, it is about 1/2 a page long and with the basics of what’s needed for a walk-on character. I could probably collapse it more, but it’s not overwhelming to fill out for a walk-on.

Then as the character grows, there are two more layers of outlining that can be expanded, with the fourth being basically interview questions if you want to know more about your character than you probably know about yourself.

So here it is, if you’re interested: Excel Character Worksheet

I don’t think you have to be an Excel expert to use it. Click on the “+” signs on the left hand column to expand a section. At the very top of the column that has the +’s are the numbers 1-4, click on a number to expand the entire level of that outline. You can put all your characters into one Excel file by adding more worksheets. (2002: Insert->Worksheet, 2007: down at the bottom by “Sheet1″ there is a tab to insert new worksheet) To change the name of a worksheet just double-click on “Sheet1″ and type the new name. In 2002, I discovered that if you “copy” worksheets then it truncates the text fields to 256 characters, so just make new worksheet, select contents of original sheet and paste it into the new one. The color-coding was just so I know what level of outline things are on. And if you’re crossing multiple books with a single character, I’d just add another set of rows under each category and label it with book number, so you know how the character evolves with each book.

If it’s useful, you’re welcome to use it. If you have suggestions, comments, changes, let me know. 🙂

Addendum: If you’re using Excel 2003 or older, you’re going to run into problems with this file because of some limitations in Excel that they’ve finally fixed in 2007:

  1. The total number of characters that can display in a cell: <2003> 1k (when the text is formatted); <2007> 32k or as many as will fit in the cell (regardless of formatting)
  2. The number of characters per cell that Excel can print: <2003> 1k; <2007> 32k
  3. The number of characters that can be stored and displayed in a cell formatted as Text: <2003> 255; <2007> 32k

I’ve been avoiding learning 2007 up to this point, but I guess if I like my new character sheet, I’m going to have to learn the blasted program.

Addendum 2: Except of course that the maximum row height in 2007 is still 409 whatevers, so still mucking with stuff to get it to do what I want.

Lie/Lay, Set/Sat Quick Notes


For the life of me I can never get these two straight, so here is my quick reference:

Lay, Laid, Laying, Lays: to place, to set down, slang: to have sex

Lie, Lay, Lain, Lying, Lies: to be horizontal, to recline

Lie, Lied, Lying, Lies: to tell untruth


set, set, setting, sets: To put in a specified position; place

sit, sat, sitting, sits: (1) To rest with the torso vertical and the body supported on the buttocks. (2) To lie or rest: Dishes were sitting on a shelf.

Usage Note: Originally set meant “to cause (something) to sit,” so that it is now in most cases a transitive verb: She sets the book on the table. He sets the table. Sit is generally an intransitive verb: He sits at the table. There are some exceptions: The sun sets (not sits). A hen sets (or sits) on her eggs.

Torturing Characters

I love to torture my characters, it’s such fun to get back at them for all the trouble they cause me, and the huge numbers of hours of my life they demand.

But I’ve noticed a disturbing trend, especially in paranormal- romance- land, where authors are resorting to literal torture (hot irons, etc.) or degrading forced sex to torture their characters… and for the life of me I can’t figure out why they are doing this.

To me, literal torture screams “LAZY AUTHOR!!!”, and I skip those scenes because they’re boring. Been there, done that… <yawn> and I flip pages until I get to something interesting, then I never read the book again, nor do I buy another by that author.

Why do I think ‘lazy-author’ when I run across literal torture?

Because literal torture is the cliché answer to “what’s the worse thing that could happen to this character?” Literal torture as the answer to that question means the author hasn’t taken the time and energy to got into the character’s head to really find out what is the worst imaginable thing for this character.

How much more interesting it would be to find out each character’s unique answer to the question “What’s the worst that could happen?” rather than resorting to the quick and easy cliché.

For instance…

Torturing my heroine. She’s done the degrading sex bit, and lived through it, so it holds no power over her. She’s done the literal torture (a battered wife), has the scars to prove it, and again it holds no power over her.

So… I as her author, I ponder… how can I torture this character… what’s the worst thing that I can do to her? And, being one who tries to not take the lazy way out, I delve into her psyche and her history. And find something vastly amusing, truly surprising and far worse for her than any literal torture conceived…

Her parents arriving on her door-step.

How much more interest and empathy does that invoke in her as a character than literal torture? And isn’t that our jobs as writers to invoke interest and empathy?

So, how about some of you out there, quit being lazy, and maybe I’ll start reading your books again.

Besides the fact that it’s soooo much more fun to write her reaction to parents’ arrival.

Ahhh… the delights of torturing my characters. 🙂

Getting Un-Stuck

I’ve been fighting myself for weeks with this book and yesterday discovered two of the reasons. Neither of which, once I realized them, came as a big surprise. I’m just horribly frustrated to be this close to being done enough to send it to an editor, and yet having so much trouble starting this last edit. So, what did I realize yesterday?

I’m sure it comes as a huge surprise to everybody that knows me (Not!), but I have a bad case of perfectionitis, which is the disease form of perfectionism. Everything I write has to be perfect the first time and I can’t start writing until I know it’s going to be perfect. I’m not saying it makes sense, because I know it doesn’t… but that’s one of the things that’s been hanging me up. This is the first scene of the book, the most critical scene, and it’s got to be perfect. Gladly I have already found the cure, because this is a condition that flares repeatedly… rambling. Instead of even attempting perfection, I purposefully ramble in a train-of-thought mode. “Well, she walks into the room, no she kind of ambles, and looks around… and what does she see? Well, she sees this and that.” And before I know it, I know exactly what’s going on and how to write it. So, today I ramble.

This is the disease form of lack-of-back-story, which for an intensely character-driven book is a huge problem. How can I write the story of this woman’s romance if I don’t have any idea of what her past relationships have been like? Duh! And, interestingly enough, it was a guy that pointed out this major flaw and none of the women caught it enough to be able to verbalize it as a problem. And the cure is simple… write their back-story. For this gal, I need to detail her past relationships with men and her relationship with her mother, because both are vital to the telling of this story.

The disease in which you’re so near-sightedly focused on the hero that you can’t see what’s going on in the rest of the story.

Symptom: You don’t have a clue what the hero is supposed to do next.  I can’t tell how the heroine is responding… because I don’t know what she’s responding to because I don’t know how the other characters are acting and reacting.

Cure: Write the scene from the other person’s POV. You, as the author, can’t know how the hero is supposed to react unless you know what the other character is doing/ thinking/ saying. In the case of my story, two more POVs besides the heroine’s because she’s reacting to both her mother and her almost-mother-in-law.


So, I’ve got my work cut out for me, and I’m actually looking forward to starting on it.