A Note About Eyes (and Hair)

Reading fanfics can be a heck of a lot of fun. And they can also really boil my blood and irk the shit outta me. How many different descriptions of eye colors am I gonna get? I start a good story, plot is great, then wham, here comes the cerulean and azure eyes, the longing gazes and peers and glances with the amber and violet irises and wait, let me pull up my Synonym Finder and look up how many different ways I can say green and blue.

It’s enough to make me put the story down. I’m too nice to put that in a review, and I’m not naming names, but holy shit, stop with the eye color descriptions and the hundred million glimpses and meetings with the eyes!!

And then there’s just “(eye color) glared angrily.” Where did that come from? Eyes flicker, linger, dart, glance, query, quiver (these preceding verbs are all recorded from one page of text), laugh, gleam, smile, bore, snap open (did you hear that?), scour, peel open (ew!), sink (to where?), dance, burn, or they’re just glassy, and almost always wide-eyed. We’re wide-eyed about everything. And our eyes meet and bore into everything, too.

And if someone isn’t identified with pools of striking ice blue, amber, bronze, indigo, turquoise, bright aqua, smoky mahogany, glowing garnet, fluorescent jade, malachite, cerulean, azure, cobalt, olive, polished sapphire (onyx, emerald, ruby, or substitute any of our fine assortment of jewels for eye colors) etc eyes, then their hair becomes the centerpiece. Tousling locks and golden curls, running hands (or slender fingers, another favorite of mine) through tresses and locks of gold, and cinnamon threads, his/her raven sleek hair wisps in the breeze, tufts of scarlet feathery silk and so on and so on. If the eye color isn’t the identifier, then it’s undoubtedly the hair and its color. “Cerulean glared at the blonde.” Don’t these characters have names or something? Or are we following the adventures of eyes and hair?

Lesson Learned

It’s overkill, really. If descriptions of eye and hair color must be divulged by the author, then please do it sporadically. Very. Sporadically. As in, no more than one time per every chapter or two. And I consider that overly generous. Character descriptions are typically vomited by the author within the first few chapters of the story. And that should be it. The reader understood and digested those descriptive facts the very first time it was brought up. And they don’t need to be reminded of it again in every other paragraph throughout the entire story.

Your characters don’t need synonyms. Jane is Jane and please don’t identify her as electric blue or ultramarine or any other adjective from the dictionary. Or else Jane is going to alternately turn from a human into a giant blue eyeball and back into a human with curls of caramel in every scene she happens to grace with her colorful appearance. Trust me, your reader will not get tired of ‘Jane’ or ‘she.’ But your reader will get tired of imagining a pretty color or jewel every time that character says or does something.


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