Saturday, June 8

The Eyes are the Windows to the Characterisation

When you speak to someone, where do you look? At their mouth, their nose, their large mole...their chest?

Probably, but the expectation is that you look into their eyes. If they are a fictional character, there should be an adjective or two attached. Cold eyes, bright eyes, kind eyes, mischievous eyes. It's almost as if their personalities and intentions are wadded up in their eyeballs.

Are a character's eyes important?

When I imagine a character, whether they are one from a book or my own, I almost always think of their eyes. I can run off names of characters whose irises are brown, blue, green, grey, hazel and violet. Yet, if you asked me to give you the colour of an actor's eyes, I'd most likely fail.

It's odd, because film and television are visual media, yet while I can gawp at an actor's stunning eyes during the film, I'd be hard pressed to tell you after whether it was Chris Pine or Benedict Cumberbatch whose eyes were grey or blue. Still, I know that Rubeus Hagrid has black eyes and Holly Short's eyes are hazel.

Mean eyes, blue eyes,
Sad eyes, green eyes.
Heterochromatic, golden rimmed,
Lost-in-your eyes, evil within.
Grey and black, brown and red,
Lovers, spirits, animals, the undead.
Clever and dim, young and old,
The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Have you ever read the beginning of a book where the protagonist catches their reflection? Cue physical description! Specifically...their eyes. The love interest enters the story? Describe his eyes! Green with gold rims. If they're brown, remember to attach an adjective like "mysterious" or "suave."

It would be easier to poke fun at this obsession with eyes in fiction if I wasn't guilty of it. I know the eye colour of my characters isn't important but it does seem to be a focal point when I'm creating them. I hardly know them, so where do I look? Their eyes.

I think eyes aren't something that need to be dismissed entirely but neither should a protagonist be able to see every other character's emotions in their eyes.

What do you think? Maybe we should just stare at our characters' chests.


Sydnee said...

If the character has nice breasts and would take it as a compliment, I have no problem staring at them to try to gauge his or her emotions.

Frostie said...

*agrees with what Sydnee said*

Keri said...

But what am I supposed to do if my character DOESN'T have ta-tas? I don't want to fall into the green iris abyss.