Bookin' It

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Pet Peeve #2 – The One About The Eyes

I thought it was about time for another Pet Peeves post, since I’m not done reading my current book, so don’t have a review ready.  I have  another pet peeve which, while minor in general, and would in no way make me quit reading a book, still pops up so often as to be impossible to ignore.  Let me ask a question?  How many of you have noticed someone good-looking across a crowded room,  perhaps a restaurant or bar?  Could you tell from clear across the room that this person had eyes the most remarkable shade of grass-green you had ever seen?  Really?  Even in a smoke-filled bar?  Heck, from across some crowded rooms, I can barely tell the person even has EYES, let alone what color they are!  So I’ve been putting it to the test lately.  I look at people in the grocery store, at the mall, in my doctor’s waiting rooms, wherever.  The point is, I’ve been looking.  (And don’t think I haven’t been getting some strange looks back, too.  I figure they’re probably just trying to tell what color MY eyes are.  But I digress. )  Anyhoo,  I am here to tell you that once you are more than say 12 to 15 feet away, or even less in some cases,  it’s pretty near impossible to tell what color someone’s eyes are.  Especially if they are light-colored.  From all the way across the restaurant, you cannot tell grass-green from peacock-blue without binoculars!  Trust me on this.  

And what the heck are grass-green eyes, anyway?  Have you ever seen anyone with eyes the color of grass?  Or peacock feathers?  Or even, and I quote, deep, dark emeralds?  Light blue, darker blue, light green, deeper green, chocolate-brown, dark brown–these I can handle.  But I have read some adjectives describing eye color lately that just make me want to laugh, which is usually not the effect the author has in mind.  Beautiful eyes do not have to be lilac.  In fact, there are NO people with lilac eyes.  Or violet ones,  no matter what Liz Taylor’s fans said.  Both lilac and violet are shades of lavender or purple.  Eyes don’t come in purple.  Prose describing eyes, perhaps.  But not the eyes themselves.  I read a book recently that had a character whose lilac eyes turned maroon when she was troubled.  MAROON. (This was not intended to be a sign of demonic possession or some weird space alien thing that might have made it believable, you understand.)  Gulp.  Ummmm…maroon is a shade of deep, dark WINE.  Lord, please deliver me from anyone with maroon eyes!  Talk about needing help to get the red out!

And while I’m on the subject of eyes that change color when a person is mad or sad, well…not to put too fine a point on it…they don’t.  They really don’t.  Honest.  When eyes appear to change color in an instant, it is an illusion caused by either a change in the amount of light striking the eye, or by dilation of the pupil, which can make eyes suddenly look darker.  But green eyes do not suddenly turn gold when a person is angry.  Well, not a person from THIS planet, anyway.  Eye color can change as a child grows up, or as a person gets on in years.  There can be some gradual darkening of a child’s eyes, and some equally gradual fading of an adult’s.  But no one’s eyes suddenly shift color in actuality.  No. One’s.  I swear it on a big stack of Visine bottles.

All I can say is, you writers out there–and you know who you are–can’t you just describe a lovely pair of eyes in a more realistic way now and then?  Perhaps in addition to giving us a realistic color, the descriptions could relate to the emotions of the character?  The eyes could be kindly, or fierce, or sharp, or dull.  Any number of adjectives like that would work.  But please don’t perpetuate the myth that eyes come in taupe, mauve, navy blue, or heaven forbid, maroon.  I know I would appreciate it, and surely others might, as well?  Stop the madness, I say!  Give us eyes we can believe in!

Whew.  I feel better now! *grin*

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8 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #2 – The One About The Eyes

  1. Some people’s eyes, if they are pale hazel, really can look green or gold from moment to moment if the light hits them just right. (My cousin and I both have this. many pictures. Sometimes the eyes look brown, others gold, and occasionally green.) But no, it has nothing to do with emotion and entirely everything to do with lighting and the dang camera flash.


  2. Yep, just as I said. Lighting causes the illusion of a color change. And the dilated pupil thing, too. BTW, did you know that the term “hazel” means light brown? It comes from the color of hazelnuts, which is, tada, light brown. But so many people today think hazel refers to green or greenish-gold that some dictionaries (not many, but some) are starting to accept that as one definition of hazel.

    Seeeee…I did my research on eye color. *grin* But that changing thing is all in the lighting. And it seems to me, it could be applied to hair color and lots of other things, too. My hair could look anything from dark chocolate brown to reddish auburn to chestnut when I was younger, depending entirely on the light. (Now, it’s pretty much silver in any light, I’m afraid!) Same thing, I think.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Peaches. And watch that camera flash. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself with MAROON eyes! Eeeek.


  3. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman on said:

    my eyes are classified as a grey, but I like it when I am wearing a dark color or as you say the lighting hits it just right- then it brings out the blue in them. Never like the gray part too much, but I think I would hate having maroon eyes even more!! LOL


  4. I think gray eyes are lovely, Patty. Such a soft, warm color. And of course, wearing colors that compliment gray will set it off and make your eyes seem even prettier.

    My eyes are odd. They look green at first glance, but they are actually bluish gray with a yellowish ring right next to the pupil. So from more than 6 inches away, they appear green, as the blue and yellow sort of merge in the vision of the beholder. They look that color whether I’m mad, happy, scared or whatever, though. Just a totally unremarkable, in-between color that stays the same all the time, in pretty much any light. Heck, I wish they DID change colors with my mood. Frankly, I think that would be cool. (Maybe that’s why authors tend to love writing about it, whether it’s real or not?) But eye pigment is eye pigment, and is not affected by emotions, I’m afraid.

    Thanks for stopping by both of my blogs today! It’s always nice to hear from you.


  5. Great post, Marcia. Hilarious — and oh so true. Maroon eyes! This reminded me of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing (specifically number 8). For the record, I’m including the rules below. Really love your blog! Best wishes, Silver

    “Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing

    1. Never open a book with weather.
    2. Avoid prologues.
    3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
    4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
    5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
    6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
    7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
    8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
    9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
    10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.


  6. Hi, Silver! How nice to see you visiting today. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and are liking my blog. I’m really new at it, so I find I do make a lot of mistakes. But I try to root them out eventually, and clean ’em up.

    Thanks for Elmore Leonard’s Rules of Writing. I’m adding it to my collection of tips from various successful authors. One thing I’ve noticed while collecting these tips is that no two authors feel the same way about very many things. I guess they are sharing what has worked well for them.

    For myself, I think some rules just need to be applied in moderation. In other words, while I know I am guilty of using way too many exclamation points (it’s how I talk, too), I actually quite like detailed descriptions of characters. Assuming they aren’t described as having lilac eyes that turn maroon when they are troubled, that is.

    My favorite of Mr. Leonard’s tips is #10. Ha! I’m going to leave that part out of MY book, too! I also like #6. Overall, I think these ten tips, used as guidelines rather than instructions cast in concrete, could really be helpful. Thanks for sharing them.

    And thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. With all the wonderful poetry and other goodies you’ve been sharing on your blog lately, I know you’ve been busy, so it was a treat to see your comment this morning.

    Best wishes to you, as well!


  7. I can’t even see the color of my own eyes in a mirror–maybe on a dark and stormy night.


  8. Well, I’m thinking EVERYTHING is better on a dark and stormy night, right? Just watch out that no MAROON eyes are looking outta that mirror back atcha.

    Hi, Alice! Nice to see you here. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you’ll stop by often.


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