Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Eyes Have It

I've been fixing up the first fifteen chapters of my paranormal WIP and today I discovered that not only do the hero's eyes change color partway through the book, so do the heroine's and a secondary character's.

This is why I edit and edit and edit before I submit anything. I messed up some hair color too, but for some reason eyes give me a lot of problems.

There are only so many reasonable eye colors for human characters. And only so many ways to decribe them. I've done violet eyes, whiskey colored eyes, smoke colored eyes, moss green, jewel green, forest green, amber, chocolate brown, pale blue, sapphire blue and indigo.

We put a lot of importance on eye color - I guess because it's a definite characteristic. Like hair color and skin color, eye color helps to really define a character in the reader's mind. You can describe someone's height or build, but I believe readers spend less time imagining exaclty how tall the hero is or how broad his shoulders might be than they do trying to picture his eyes or matching him against their ideal blond or dark-haired heartthrob.

Do you worry a lot about eye color as an author? What about as a reader? Does it make a difference to you if a character's eyes are blue or green or jewel-toned or silvery or dark or is it something you just file away and don't think about until you realize the eye color described in Chapter One isn't the same as it is in Chapter Ten?

If readers ever remember one of my characters for their eye color, I can only hope it won't be because that color changed halfway through the book.


Jennifer McKenzie said...

This drives me nuts. The eyes are hugely important, but I do the same thing. When dealing with sequels, that can get VERY tricky.
I get names messed up really badly. In my newly contracted Sci Fi Erotic in edits, I changed a guys last name (the spelling) three times. *rolls eyes*.
At least he had a SIMILAR last name.

Jennifer Elbaum said...

I'm guilty of changing eye color and name also. I've got to say that, as a reader, I never care about eye color or any physical trait, which is probably why I have so much difficulty as a writer.

gwen hayes said...

I don't mention eye color unless it has a meaning, I guess. Like, my black hero had blue eyes, which is unusual.

Am I allowed to post here? I just noticed this is like an "All Jennifer" thread, lol.

Maybe I'll go hang with Ursula. :)

Moondancer said...

I found a way to fix that habit. If you stop by my blog I did a character gallery for one of my WIPs with notes. I really helped me remember charter physical details.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

LOL, Gwen You could call yourself Gwennifer if you want. ;)

Moondancer, that's a great idea. I usually make notes like that, but when I get in the groove I forget to check back. I need more discipline.

Faith said...

Many writers write notes before they start writing, but I keep notes _as_ I write so I don't make eye color mistakes, etc. If I forget something, I just flip through my notes and reaffirm the details.