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BarbaraKE
02-04-2008, 03:56 PM
The recent thread entitled '1001 writing cliches' mentioned 'red hair and green eyes' as a cliche.

(Maybe cliche isn't the right word, but it was pointed out that this description is way over-represented in fiction.)

Anyway, that started me thinking. What exactly is 'green' eyes?? I'm serious - I've never seen anyone with green eyes. A friend once mentioned that she had green eyes, I would have called them light brown (hazel). Do people ever have really green eyes??

(On a side note, the very next book I started after reading that thread had a heroine with 'long red hair that rippled down to her waist' and 'sage-green eyes'. She was also an expert in her field (scientist) and was 5'8" tall, approx. 135 pounds and 28 years old. Yeah, right. Did I mention that the hero also had green eyes (but his were 'olivine'). :) No, this wasn't a romance, it was a thriller. Agghhhhh!!)

Appalachian Writer
02-04-2008, 04:04 PM
My WIP has a heroine(?) with green eyes and auburn hair, but the eyes and the hair are the result of a paranormal event. One of the villians has green eyes for the same reason. Do you think that's cliche? If it is, then:cry:well, then my whole manuscript has to be reworked! HELP!

johnzakour
02-04-2008, 04:15 PM
Cliche or not, green eyes and red hair do exist:

http://images.google.com/images?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=%22green+eyes%22&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi&oi=property_suggestions&resnum=0&ct=property-revision&cd=3

There are time when cliche is good. It means your readers have to think less about the minor stuff (like hair color and eye color) and concentrate more on the important stuff.

L M Ashton
02-04-2008, 04:15 PM
My mother has green eyes. They're not a bright green, but more of a muddy-grey green.

Shara
02-04-2008, 04:19 PM
Green eyes are unusual but not impossible. I have green eyes. Not hazel, not grey-green, but green, and they've been that colour all my life. But I'm a brunette, not a redhead.

Possibly the combination of natural red hair and green eyes is a cliche because that combination would be pretty unusual The majority of redheads I've met have blue or hazel eyes.

but Appalachian, if your characters have green eyes due to an explained supernatural event, I think that's perfectly acceptable!

Shara

Mud Dauber
02-04-2008, 04:20 PM
My WIP has a heroine(?) with green eyes and auburn hair, but the eyes and the hair are the result of a paranormal event. One of the villians has green eyes for the same reason. Do you think that's cliche? If it is, then:cry:well, then my whole manuscript has to be reworked! HELP!
To me, this is one of those things that writers call cliche (or say is over-represented), but I'll bet if you polled your average reader it wouldn't be the case. I also think that it must depend on the genre. Perhaps romance is a typical home for the green-eyed beauty, I don't know.:Shrug:But I read all different types of genres and off the top of my head, I can't think of any novels with whack descriptions of green eyes.

Sage green actually sounds like a variation of hazel to me. I'd say my sister's eyes are sage. But yeah, even though I married into a family of blue-eyed Irish people, I can still think of many friends and family members with real (and beautiful) green eyes.

Mr Flibble
02-04-2008, 04:22 PM
I know several people with very vivid green eyes. It's more common in certain areas ( scandanavia / iceland etc).

My heroine has green eyes for an extremely specific reason - and it's not really that they are green that makes thems so odd....

Perks
02-04-2008, 04:28 PM
My husband's eyes are quite green.

She_wulf
02-04-2008, 04:34 PM
Technically speaking my daughter lists her eyes as hazel. However, they range from dull blue/gray, and dusty sage all the way up to a decent green depending on her mood and the color of clothes she wears. She's a blonde by the way. We used to kid her about it when she was younger because if she had a bad day (in grade school) her eyes would be very green.

The oddity is that both I and her father have blue eyes. :raised eyebrow:

Another odd eye color is violet. I saw that once, most unusual and very pretty. She was of African/Irish? descent.

Amy

seun
02-04-2008, 04:44 PM
My girlfriend's often look as if they have changed from blue to green. While I know that's not actually possible, it still seems to happen.

NeuroFizz
02-04-2008, 04:46 PM
If a character's eye color jumps out at a reader to where it stops him/her, perhaps the surrounding prose is a bit on the bland side.

Eye color is a reality of nature, and green (of various shades including hazel) is one of the possible colors coded in the human genome. How can that be cliche. It can be overused or over emphasized, but it isn't cliche any more than having a heroine with blond hair is cliche. And, remember, eye color can be changed with contact lenses these days, so the percentage of total humans with natrual green eyes may not be the same as the number of humans whose eyes look green.

I have green eyes. Mrs. Fizzy's eyes are green flecked with blue so they can look either green or blue depending on what she wears. Little Fizzy's eyes are green. Little Fizzette has blue eyes.

Bo Sullivan
02-04-2008, 04:57 PM
The recent thread entitled '1001 writing cliches' mentioned 'red hair and green eyes' as a cliche.

(Maybe cliche isn't the right word, but it was pointed out that this description is way over-represented in fiction.)

Anyway, that started me thinking. What exactly is 'green' eyes?? I'm serious - I've never seen anyone with green eyes. A friend once mentioned that she had green eyes, I would have called them light brown (hazel). Do people ever have really green eyes??

(On a side note, the very next book I started after reading that thread had a heroine with 'long red hair that rippled down to her waist' and 'sage-green eyes'. She was also an expert in her field (scientist) and was 5'8" tall, approx. 135 pounds and 28 years old. Yeah, right. Did I mention that the hero also had green eyes (but his were 'olivine'). :) No, this wasn't a romance, it was a thriller. Agghhhhh!!)


Yes - I have green eyes. When I cry they go as green as a cat's eyes! They do have blue circles round them though. Green eyes are very common in Irish people, and I'm of Irish descent.

B.

Perks
02-04-2008, 05:00 PM
Yes - I have green eyes. When I cry they go as green as a cat's eyes! My youngest daughter is the same way! Mostly her eyes are a very interesting indeterminate color - kind of blue, grey, moss something. But when she cries, they go bright green.

Bo Sullivan
02-04-2008, 05:16 PM
My youngest daughter is the same way! Mostly her eyes are a very interesting indeterminate color - kind of blue, grey, moss something. But when she cries, they go bright green.

Yes, when I was a child I was amazed at the colour green my eyes went!

Appalachian Writer
02-04-2008, 05:18 PM
if your characters have green eyes due to an explained supernatural event, I think that's perfectly acceptable!

Shara, thanks loads. I based a lot of things in the book on the transformations from brown eyes to green, blue to green, etc. When I read the cliche thing, my stomach almost floated out of my mouth! This gives me a lot of comfort.

Jersey Chick
02-04-2008, 05:31 PM
I have green eyes - they are yellowish-green around the pupil, and a bright almost- emerald (yes, I said emerald :D) around the yellow. They started out blue, but changed when I was about 17. They also tend to turn turquoise-y depending on what color I wear. I call them "mood eyes" and I'm the only one in my family with them. I don't have red hair, but blonde. I'm the family freak :)

sunna
02-04-2008, 05:32 PM
Technically speaking my daughter lists her eyes as hazel. However, they range from dull blue/gray, and dusty sage all the way up to a decent green depending on her mood and the color of clothes she wears. She's a blonde by the way. We used to kid her about it when she was younger because if she had a bad day (in grade school) her eyes would be very green.

Mine are pretty much the same; they're kind of a greenish hazel most of the time, but can shade all the way from a kind of dull gray-blue to outright green, mood and outfit depending. I've even been told they looked sort of yellowish a few times, though that was generally in bad light.

tinselcleo
02-04-2008, 05:34 PM
Both my mom and my brother have green eyes and red hair. IMO I wouldn't call it cliche since I grew up wth it. The majority of people in my family have red hair,about half with green eyes, and the other half blue. It's just the norm!

NeuroFizz
02-04-2008, 05:46 PM
Actual data is hard to find on the percentage of individuals with green eyes. An unsubstantiated number I found for the total population of the globe is around 2% green and 8% blue eyes. If, however, you look at specific populations, it will be much different--in Iceland, 88% of the population has either green or blue eyes (no original reference found).

In writing, therefore, the probability of "seeing" green or blue eyes will be dependent upon the setting of the story and/or the lineage of the characters.

Momento Mori
02-04-2008, 05:51 PM
I have green eyes but unfortunately, they're not the attractive vivid kind - more like cold pond water. All the red heads I know have blue or brown eyes.

MM

Shady Lane
02-04-2008, 06:15 PM
I have those muddy-green-brown ones, but my best friend's a red head, and he has eyes like lime lifesavers.

C.bronco
02-04-2008, 06:15 PM
I have green eyes. When I was in high school, they were more gray, but have become greener over time. My grandfather had one green eye and one blue eye.

I'd send you a picture, but in photos, my eyes almost always are red!

P.S. Depending on what I wear and what make-up I have on, they are of varying intensity.

Sassee
02-04-2008, 06:24 PM
Technically speaking my daughter lists her eyes as hazel. However, they range from dull blue/gray, and dusty sage all the way up to a decent green depending on her mood and the color of clothes she wears. She's a blonde by the way. We used to kid her about it when she was younger because if she had a bad day (in grade school) her eyes would be very green.

The oddity is that both I and her father have blue eyes. :raised eyebrow:

Another odd eye color is violet. I saw that once, most unusual and very pretty. She was of African/Irish? descent.

Amy

Violet? Sounds to me like the person is lacking almost all pigment in their eyes. They might have just enough blue so that their lenses aren't clear, but you can probably still see some of the red of the blood vessels behind the lenses, and mixed together it forms violet. Sort of sounds like a mild version of albinism. (It is possible to have albinism and only have the eyes missing their pigment... their entire body doesn't have to be lacking)

The recent thread entitled '1001 writing cliches' mentioned 'red hair and green eyes' as a cliche.

(Maybe cliche isn't the right word, but it was pointed out that this description is way over-represented in fiction.)

Anyway, that started me thinking. What exactly is 'green' eyes?? I'm serious - I've never seen anyone with green eyes. A friend once mentioned that she had green eyes, I would have called them light brown (hazel). Do people ever have really green eyes??

(On a side note, the very next book I started after reading that thread had a heroine with 'long red hair that rippled down to her waist' and 'sage-green eyes'. She was also an expert in her field (scientist) and was 5'8" tall, approx. 135 pounds and 28 years old. Yeah, right. Did I mention that the hero also had green eyes (but his were 'olivine'). :) No, this wasn't a romance, it was a thriller. Agghhhhh!!)

True green eyes are pretty rare. A few people I know (notibly my mother and husband) have the eyes that switch from gray to blue to green depending on what they're wearing, and my cousin has the enviable combination of brown hair/skin and green eyes. I don't think my cousin's eyes aren't totally green though, they may have a brown ring in the middle or brown flecks throughout, but I've never gotten in my cousin's face to look so I'm not sure. Another girl I knew in highschool had brown around the center, green in the middle, and blue on the outside. She's the only person I've ever seen (or heard of) with that eye color.

Also, I think the reason red hair/green eyes might be considered cliche, is that because a lot of newer writers try to go for something "unusual" for their character's description, and the red/green combination is overall a pretty rare occurance in the human race. Of course that means that it's a lot more common in fiction. The dreaded cliche female character is a redhead named Kate. Even I fell prey to that one... I have a Kate with auburn hair and hazel eyes. /sigh

Sassee
02-04-2008, 06:27 PM
Mine are pretty much the same; they're kind of a greenish hazel most of the time, but can shade all the way from a kind of dull gray-blue to outright green, mood and outfit depending. I've even been told they looked sort of yellowish a few times, though that was generally in bad light.

My step-sister has hazel eyes. Can't really see the green unless she's wearing that color, but it lightens the brown enough that her eyes mostly look gold all the time. "Whiskey eyes" is one description I've heard, and it's pretty accurate for her.

donroc
02-04-2008, 06:29 PM
I have heard many times that Liz Taylor has violet-blue eyes.

The MC in my historical has eyes of a specific green color for story purposes, not on a whim. As said above, if the reason for color is made clear by the author, it cannot be a cliché.

arkady
02-04-2008, 06:32 PM
I don't have red hair, but my eyes are green. I have yet to hear anyone call me a cliche.

Qui
02-04-2008, 06:38 PM
My eyes are jade green (http://www.hpwt.de/Mineralien/Jade.jpg). They can look blue-grey in artificial light (esp. fluorescent), but they're green.

My hair's not red, though.

tiny
02-04-2008, 06:48 PM
Wow, looks like we're all checking in...... Green eyes here too. I get accused of wearing colored contacts quite frequently.

Soccer Mom
02-04-2008, 06:50 PM
Heh. My sister has brown hair and green eyes. My youngest son has red hair and grey/green eyes. The intensity varies. And they both also have freckles and that really, really fish-belly pale skin.

And yes, we are of Irish descent.

I say make your characters eyes anything you want. Honestly, of all the things to fret about, this would be low on my list.

Mel
02-04-2008, 07:14 PM
The dreaded cliche female character is a redhead named Kate. Even I fell prey to that one... I have a Kate with auburn hair and hazel eyes. /sigh

I really need to tell my mom she's a walking cliche.

Name: Kate
Hair: auburn
Eyes: hazel

Truth. :)

The Grump
02-04-2008, 07:57 PM
I once had a heroine with titian hair and green eyes because that was as far away as I could get from my own brown and brown. What happened to her? I don't know. It's the one manuscript folder I can't find.

Finni
02-04-2008, 08:05 PM
I have green eyes. But they change with my mood. when my eyes are watery for any reason (sadness, overly happy, under the influence of something, with my girl friend) they are very green. But if I am in a 'so so' mood they are very brown.

Most of the time they are green.

sheadakota
02-04-2008, 08:23 PM
My husband has green eyes, but they do change to blue or green depending on what he is wearing- Oh and I am a redhead- no green eyes though - dark brown- my mother always told me that was because I was full of it!

miles
02-04-2008, 08:24 PM
The recent thread entitled '1001 writing cliches' mentioned 'red hair and green eyes' as a cliche.


Perhaps you're focusing too much on the colors. Most likely, what the poster was referring to was the use of hair and eye color to describe appearance. That is cliché. It could just as easily read, "blond hair and blue eyes".


There are many more interesting ways to describe appearance IMO.

RedScylla
02-04-2008, 08:29 PM
Dang it! I'm a walking, talking literary cliché. I have red hair and true green eyes. Got them from my Irish great-grandfather Coyote Monty Cook, who was in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show as a trick rider.

ACEnders
02-04-2008, 09:13 PM
I have green eyes. Not kidding, I do. They change color sometimes, and when I wear green, they are more green. And when I cry, they are super green. But I put green on my license. My hair's light brown though.

And if that's cliche than isn't blue eyes and blond hair? I mean, come on. There are only so many different colored eyes and hair.

JoNightshade
02-04-2008, 09:18 PM
I'm apparently yet another cliche. Chalk me up for green eyes. As far as I know they don't change color at any time, they're just green.

sheadakota
02-04-2008, 09:26 PM
Dang it! I'm a walking, talking literary cliché. I have red hair and true green eyes. Got them from my Irish great-grandfather Coyote Monty Cook, who was in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show as a trick rider.
How cool is that!

James D. Macdonald
02-04-2008, 09:31 PM
Before y'all get too deep into hair-and-eye color, perhaps you ought to read The Tough Guide to Fantasy.

And any number of on-line Mary Sue Tests.

Jersey Chick
02-04-2008, 10:04 PM
I've been trying to get my driver's license eye color changed from blue to green for nearly 20 years. DMV apparently doesn't pay all that much attention to amendments. I've also been accused of wearing contacts (which is really funny when I have my glasses on)

My eyes also get very green when I cry - goes real well with the pink blotches - I'm a hideous crier.

Storm Dream
02-04-2008, 10:20 PM
My eyes are most definitely green. Not brown, not hazel, not blue-green. Green-green. Everyone was surprised I turned out that way; my parents both have blue eyes, my brother has blue eyes, and there's brown immediately further back, and here I am, Miz Cliche'd Green Eyes.

I have brown hair, but I did further increase my cliche-ness last year by dying it red, so now all I need is a sword and I will be ready to take on the Dark Lord!

;)

Zelenka
02-04-2008, 10:23 PM
My hair is reddish blonde, when it's not being dyed dark brown, and my eyes are a sort of green-blue ranging to really blue depending on the light or mood. My mum's eyes are sort of grey-green.

If red hair is a cliche, my fantasy novel is in dire straights - one of my races has a genetic leaning towards red hair and they're the probably the most widespread group in that country.

Shadow_Ferret
02-04-2008, 10:23 PM
I've been described as having hazel eyes. I hate that. WTF is hazel? Is that even a color?

David I
02-04-2008, 10:27 PM
Before y'all get too deep into hair-and-eye color, perhaps you ought to read The Tough Guide to Fantasy.

And any number of on-line Mary Sue Tests.

Actually, everybody ought to read "Tough Guide," even if they don't write fantasy. A hilarious and useful book.

As to "green eyes", the only problem with them is that they make many editors and agents sigh when they come across them.

Devil Ledbetter
02-04-2008, 10:42 PM
I've been described as having hazel eyes. I hate that. WTF is hazel? Is that even a color?My DH has hazel eyes. Yes, it's an eye color. I think his are lovely.

Jersey Chick
02-04-2008, 10:47 PM
Hazel eyes hover between brown and green - my son has them. It took us forever to decide what color his eyes were because some days they are dark brown (my husband's eyes are almost black, and my daughter's are just as dark, but she's blonde) and some days they look more green. He's a weird little kid. :D

Linton Robinson
02-04-2008, 11:03 PM
if the reason for color is made clear by the author, it cannot be a cliché.


If you think about that statement, I think you will realize that it's not true. You'd be saying that any cliche is rendered null by a line from the author saying why he did it.


Having just finished a book with a green-eyed, red-haired character (and for very essential plot reasons) I know exactly what the OP is talking about. If somebody only knew our world through literature, he'd get the idea that most humans, especially women, all had green, violet, or grey eyes.

Yeshanu
02-04-2008, 11:06 PM
I think the list has "red hair and green eyes" as a cliche because they're way over-represented, especially in romance fiction. I'm almost hungry to read a story about a heroine with plain brown hair, NOT with "all the colours of autumn" mixed in, and blue-grey eyes. Or even brown.

But how you describe said green eyes and red hair is even more important than their colour. I'm certain that "eyes as green as emeralds" and "hair like a flaming halo" are two comparisons that make editors want to puke...

(That being said, my character is not only an elf with red hair and green eyes, she scores in the astronomical range on the Mary Sue tests Uncle Jim mentioned. Tough. She is what she is.)

RedScylla
02-04-2008, 11:26 PM
Before y'all get too deep into hair-and-eye color, perhaps you ought to read The Tough Guide to Fantasy.

And any number of on-line Mary Sue Tests.

Yup, it's the Mary Sue factor that makes it a cliché. That is, I believe the relative rarity of red hair/green eyes combo in real life makes it suspect. Whereas blond hair/blue eyes isn't really cliché as it's so common in real life.

Stormhawk
02-04-2008, 11:34 PM
I think the list has "red hair and green eyes" as a cliche because they're way over-represented, especially in romance fiction. I'm almost hungry to read a story about a heroine with plain brown hair, NOT with "all the colours of autumn" mixed in, and blue-grey eyes. Or even brown.


My MC has straight brown hair, and blue-gray eyes, it's not a romance though. :(

EelKat
02-04-2008, 11:44 PM
I have green eyes. They are dark olivine peridot green with gold flecking at the centers and darker emerald green around the outer edges, sort of sunbursty looking... I'm told by some that my eyes are a hazel-green... too green to be hazel, but a strange shade of green that looks hazel. My hair is usually considered dark brown, however in the right light, some say it looks deep red, but I still call it brown.

EelKat
02-04-2008, 11:50 PM
I've been described as having hazel eyes. I hate that. WTF is hazel? Is that even a color?


In eyes, Hazel is a lovely shade of peridot green, blended together with a golden brown. In some lights hazel eyes look green, while in others they llook pale brown; the effect is wonderful.

IceCreamEmpress
02-04-2008, 11:51 PM
It's not that green eyes are a cliche, or nonexistent, or what have you. (I have green eyes myself, and it says "green" on my driver's license).

It's that they're, as someone has already said, overrepresented in fiction, especially when paired with red or auburn hair and milk-white skin.

Other overrepresented hair/eye combos in fiction: olive skin/curly dark hair/dark brown eyes; cafe-au-lait skin/long dark hair/amber eyes; white skin/long, wavy blonde hair/cornflower-blue eyes; ivory skin/sleek, raven-black hair/black eyes.

Sometimes it seems like the world of fiction and the world of magazine covers overlap way too much.

Polenth
02-05-2008, 12:44 AM
Other overrepresented hair/eye combos in fiction: olive skin/curly dark hair/dark brown eyes;

I'm cliche! I don't have to be jealous of all the green-eyed people now.

Like other combinations, it depends on the area. A story set near the mediterranean should have many people who look like that.

I've never understood milk-white skin though. Most pale people are actually reddish from being out in the sun. I only believe characters with white skin if they've been kept away from sunlight. Once they escape for their adventure, I expect them to either go red or tan.

IceCreamEmpress
02-05-2008, 12:47 AM
I'm cliche! I don't have to be jealous of all the green-eyed people now.

Like other combinations, it depends on the area. A story set near the mediterranean should have many people who look like that.


Yes, of course. But when was the last time you saw a heroine with olive skin and straight brown hair and medium brown eyes? Or a heroine with frizzy blonde hair and freckly pale skin and green eyes? Or a heroine with plum-dark skin and dreadlocks and gray eyes? Or a heroine with graying dark hair and pale skin and dark brown eyes?

That's a roll call of my female neighbors, but pretty underrepresented in literature.

awatkins
02-05-2008, 12:54 AM
My daughter is a green-eyed blonde. Her son has green eyes and blonde hair, too, but her daughter is a blue-eyed blonde.

Cool that so many here have green eyes, too!

Hapax Legomenon
02-05-2008, 12:59 AM
Never actually seen a very green-eyed person. The vast majority of people I know either have very dark brown eyes or blue eyes, which I guess aren't underrepresented.

I knew a guy with blonde eyes once. He was obessed with the show Lost and would always tell me to watch it.

My heroine, Rosa, has straight grayed hair and dark eyes and lots of wrinkles. I'd say she's very pretty. :)

Gigi Sahi
02-05-2008, 01:03 AM
My youngest son and I are both cliches. He has green-grey eyes with auburn hair; I have olive skin, dark curly hair, and brown eyes. Funny, everyone says we look just alike; "except he's fairer with different color eyes and different color hair. Other than that, you two look identical." Strange.

Polenth
02-05-2008, 01:03 AM
Yes, of course. But when was the last time you saw a heroine with olive skin and straight brown hair and medium brown eyes? Or a heroine with frizzy blonde hair and freckly pale skin and green eyes? Or a heroine with plum-dark skin and dreadlocks and gray eyes? Or a heroine with graying dark hair and pale skin and dark brown eyes?

That's a roll call of my female neighbors, but pretty underrepresented in literature.

I wasn't arguing against other types being under-represented. But I think it helps to remind people that it does depend on area. My appearance causes comment in the south of England. It wouldn't be noticed in the south of France.

Danger Jane
02-05-2008, 01:03 AM
I don't usually mention eye color, but since my stories are set in the Mediterranean, back in the day, brown and green are pretty much the only options. The one character who's never been exposed to sunlight gets sunburny and freckly. The old characters have sun damaged skin. My eyes are blue and I am a fan of them, which sort of gets rid of the Mary Sue problem. People think they are fake. Not fake. Real eyeballs.

The only person I know with green eyes is my best friend. Also a owner of real eyeballs. So...I'd believe that 2% statistic (Neurofizz?) cited.

CACTUSWENDY
02-05-2008, 01:08 AM
I have olive/hazel eyes with dark brown hair. (Loreal has aided me with some alburn at the moment.) One daughter has green eyes and alburn/raven hair. Other daughter has olive/hazel eyes with light brown/blonde hair. Their daddy has the brightest blue eyes I have ever seen with blonde hair.

I guess it is like a crap shoot.

Charlie Horse
02-05-2008, 01:17 AM
This has actually made me wonder, that unless its relevant to the story, is it really necessary to mention a characters eye color?

James D. Macdonald
02-05-2008, 01:19 AM
The big question is why you're mentioning the characters' hair-and-eye colors at all.

Do they advance the plot?

Dragon-lady
02-05-2008, 01:23 AM
This has actually made me wonder, that unless its relevant to the story, is it really necessary to mention a characters eye color?My thought exactly. I don't think I have ever mentioned a character's eye color. I sometimes mention hair color. It simply stands out more so when my MC looks at someone she may think of them as "the gray-haired guy."

Hapax Legomenon
02-05-2008, 01:23 AM
The big question is why you're mentioning the characters' hair-and-eye colors at all.

Do they advance the plot?

Well, I suppose if the MC went missing and all they had was the driver's license pictures to go by with the information off to the side, it'd be a plot element to add.

The only character's hair color I mentioned thus far has been Rosa, who has gray hair, and that's because my MC thought that she would be younger because another character had referred to her as a 'girl.'

That said, there's no crime in knowing, but still. And somewhere, I heard that genetically, red hair most often goes with gray eyes.

paprikapink
02-05-2008, 01:25 AM
Yes, of course. But when was the last time you saw a heroine with olive skin and straight brown hair and medium brown eyes? Or a heroine with frizzy blonde hair and freckly pale skin and green eyes? Or a heroine with plum-dark skin and dreadlocks and gray eyes? Or a heroine with graying dark hair and pale skin and dark brown eyes?

That's a roll call of my female neighbors, but pretty underrepresented in literature.

I think this hits the nail on the head. There're one or two genuine redheaded Kates in the real world, and thousands of them running around the fictional world having adventures. I don't think novels necessarily have to be demographically accurate, but it would add an element of humanism/reality to have some of these heroines get caught with their roots showing once in a while.

Danger Jane
02-05-2008, 01:29 AM
The big question is why you're mentioning the characters' hair-and-eye colors at all.

Do they advance the plot?

I would change this (only slightly) to "do they advance the story?" Sometimes it really is a good detail, even if only for a better flowing sentence, or because the single word adds a little to the clarity of a scene. But in most cases...no, hair and eye color aren't important. Especially because people really only tend to notice them appreciably if it's something unusual. Sure, I know my friends' hair colors, some of their eye colors. But when I met them, did I think, "Look at her startling raven waves" or "Look at his close-cropped hair bleached to straw."

Now, it might tell us a little about the guy that his hair is bleached--he spends a lot of time in the sun, or he's obsessed with his self-image and bleaches it himself. But the way that's worded, it's just over the top. You want to subtly tell us he spends a lot of time in the sun or he's vain, mention his bleached hair, sure, along with another detail or two. But otherwise...no, it doesn't matter that much. Certainly not enough to merit a paragraph, or even in many cases a single sentence.

In my story, my one MC sees her daughter for the first time after almost twenty years. I stopped for a second. What would I notice if I was seeing my daughter for the first time since she was born? Probably features we had in common...like eye color. It pained me. But a sentence later, the physical description was over, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Bo Sullivan
02-05-2008, 01:30 AM
My thought exactly. I don't think I have ever mentioned a character's eye color. I sometimes mention hair color. It simply stands out more so when my MC looks at someone she may think of them as "the gray-haired guy."

I usually mention my character's eye colour and describe his face and hair, but may be that is just because I like a lot of detail in my books. It's just a case of different styles of writing I guess.

B.

IceCreamEmpress
02-05-2008, 01:34 AM
The big question is why you're mentioning the characters' hair-and-eye colors at all.

Do they advance the plot?


Emma Bovary famously has blue eyes in one chapter and brown eyes in another chapter.

Of course, in my mind, I know exactly what she looks like. And she has hazel eyes! ;)

Devil Ledbetter
02-05-2008, 01:39 AM
The big question is why you're mentioning the characters' hair-and-eye colors at all.

Do they advance the plot?Refusing to offer any description of the main characters on grounds that it doesn't advance the plot seems like a literary affectation to me.

It's only when the eye color of one character is mentioned repeatedly, or it's some bizarre and unlikely color described in ridiculous detail, that I have a problem with it.

If the POV character notices another character's eye color, it'll be mentioned. It's not like it makes the story drag.

BarbaraKE
02-05-2008, 01:42 AM
Wow!! Interesting responses. It seems that most of the green eyes mentioned here are somewhat variable - sometimes true green, sometimes grayish, sometimes light brown.

I don't have a problem with that - I know eyes can vary because mine vary from a pale blue (almost colorless) to a very vivid blue depending on what I wear.

Switching subject slightly - blond hair is definitely not (naturally) common. I read somewhere that only 2% of Northern European adults have blond hair. Many more have it as kids (I did) but it darkens as they get older. Probably 99% of the blond hair you see on adult women is artificial. (Although I guess people's definition of 'blond' varies. I have light brown hair. But when I put that down at the DMV, the lady looked at me and said it was dark blond (and that's what she put down).)

Danger Jane
02-05-2008, 01:43 AM
Emma Bovary famously has blue eyes in one chapter and brown eyes in another chapter.

Of course, in my mind, I know exactly what she looks like. And she has hazel eyes! ;)

Pretty weird when you consider how obsessed Flaubert was with like...description :|

Jersey Chick
02-05-2008, 01:46 AM
In one of my books, I hold off on describing the heroine until about a third of the way into the story - my editor wanted it moved up to give the reader an idea of what she looked like. Of course, I write romance, so maybe that's the difference.

Personally, I like description -as long as it isn't too specific. Give me the basics and let me envision it for myself.

AZ_Dawn
02-05-2008, 01:46 AM
Out of my characters who I have eye colors for (whether I mention it in the story or not), two have green eyes, two have hazel eyes, one has blue eyes, and one has brown eyes. Forget the rest of fiction; I've overrepresented green in my own stories! :eek: I might need to do something about that.

To my credit, none of the green/hazel-eyed people have red hair, and the two green-eyed people are siblings.

Conman
02-05-2008, 01:58 AM
My main character has green eyes. But I only chose that color because I have green eyes. Apparently that's just unheard of.

shelboselby
02-05-2008, 02:01 AM
There is such a thing as a person having green eyes, but they're very rarely ever bright shiny emerald green. It's not the stereotypical shade of green, and I think that's why it's not always recognized. And green eyes are the type that tend to change shade with what you're wearing...they may look more bluer or browner depending on atmosphere.

Chumplet
02-05-2008, 02:25 AM
My eyes are olive-to-leaf green, with chestnut flecks in the middle. I guess you would call them hazel, and they change according to the light.

My hair started out dark brown, but in the summer it had red highlights. That is, before I started colouring to hide the grey.

My sister's eyes are a little more green, but her hair was more honey-coloured. My daughter is blonde and brown-eyed, a little more uncommon.

Danger Jane
02-05-2008, 02:29 AM
In one of my books, I hold off on describing the heroine until about a third of the way into the story - my editor wanted it moved up to give the reader an idea of what she looked like. Of course, I write romance, so maybe that's the difference.

Personally, I like description -as long as it isn't too specific. Give me the basics and let me envision it for myself.

I prefer really concrete description--blonde hair and brown eyes doesn't tell me a whole lot about a character. Now, if I know she has chicken wings or fat ankles, I know a lot more. Hair's just what goes on top, you know? And texture tells a lot more than color, generally (limp, frizzy, smooth, greasy, whatever).

Shady Lane
02-05-2008, 02:35 AM
I'm trying to remember if I've EVER mentioned a character's eye color.

Once, my MC said a girl had "little blue eyes." And...yes. That's the only time. I'm pretty sure.

HoosierCowgirl
02-05-2008, 02:44 AM
Like a bazillion others of us, I have hazel-green eyes. I think eyes tend to lighten as we age, because my grandmother's dark eyes were almost blue when she passed away at 96. DH has warm brown eyes (lots of gold tone) but SIL has such dark eyes they are almost black. All my kids have brown eyes but one of our sons had a wedge of green-blue in one of his brown eyes until quite recently.

I like knowing what peeps look like. I also like to know the weather, terrain, horse colors, what bits the horses are using and on and on and on.

Boring ...!

Ann

BiggerBoat
02-05-2008, 05:40 AM
It's probably appropriate to have a character notice eye color if someone's eyes are really striking (which does happen), but otherwise it does tend to feel a bit forced. You definately don't want to have a character comment on their own eye color, unless it's a story about switched babies ("Ma? How come no one in the family has green eyes 'cept for me?")

My wife's eyes are a blue-green that seems to shift either to blue or to green depending on what she is wearing. If someone in a novel met my wife, they'd probably comment on how lovely her eyes were :)

Dreamer3702
02-05-2008, 07:20 AM
Another girl I knew in highschool had brown around the center, green in the middle, and blue on the outside. She's the only person I've ever seen (or heard of) with that eye color.

That's my eye color! Light-brown to green with a blue ring. When I got my license, I told the lady to pick a color. She put green.

I'm was born a strawberry blond, but its gone away since I got older. I'd have to stay out in the sun for a looooonnnggg time for it to go back, but my skin is too fair for that. My hair likes to change color with the season. People always ask me where I get my hair dyed, because I have such great blond and red highlights in my light brown hair. Sorry babe, its NATURAL!

Wait, am I a cliche?

Atlantis
02-05-2008, 01:26 PM
Who cares if red hair and green eyes are cliche? I have a goddess in my book with that colouring, so? On the list of things an agent/publisher would reject someone for the "red hair and green eyes cliche" would be right down the bottom. Its hardly worth worrying about. I have a character in my book with black hair and purple eyes. What the heck does it matter?

Andre_Laurent
02-05-2008, 04:36 PM
Shara, thanks loads. I based a lot of things in the book on the transformations from brown eyes to green, blue to green, etc. When I read the cliche thing, my stomach almost floated out of my mouth! This gives me a lot of comfort.
When I was a kid, I had brown eyes. Now my eyes are hazel on the very green side. Go figure.

Momento Mori
02-05-2008, 04:46 PM
Dreamer3702:
Wait, am I a cliche?

No, but you are in danger of being labelled a Mary-Sue. ;)

MM

JohnDavidPaxton
02-05-2008, 04:47 PM
I will tolerate no more of this nonsense. Gingers do not exist. End of discussion.

Seriously: I know that green eyes are less than 1% of the total population of Earth, but where are all of you who have never seen a pair in person? And how do you get such a good internet connection in New Guiena?

Whatmore, I'm willing to put down a book for a lot of reasons, but eye and hair color? Unless it's a Victorian piece about a blue mohawk sporting mistress I can't imagine doing it.

Oh, I take that back:

Don't do one green eye and one blue and them make it symbolic of a dual nature. Please. Pretty please?

juneafternoon
02-05-2008, 04:55 PM
^ I did that once!! Hahah, is that a really bad cliché? (The two colored eyes-dual nature thing.)

Dreamer3702
02-05-2008, 05:36 PM
No, but you are in danger of being labelled a Mary-Sue.


Dang it! :p

Don't do one green eye and one blue and them make it symbolic of a dual nature. Please. Pretty please?


I have a character with one green eye and one brown. It is NOT symbolic. It's a trait he shares with other people in his family.

roskoebaby
02-05-2008, 05:59 PM
My sister has Really Bright green eyes.lol. No red hair though. My MC's Love interests usually have hazel eyes, or light brown. :) I'm bucking the system. lol

JohnDavidPaxton
02-05-2008, 06:26 PM
^ I did that once!! Hahah, is that a really bad cliché? (The two colored eyes-dual nature thing.)

I don't know if it's a cliche, but it certain bugs the hell out of me every time I see it. It's not so much the notion as the way it's played.

I'm just being grumpy about it. I'm sure someone did it beautifully somewhere and it was subtle and sweet.

But typically? It's basically a sledgehammer.

ONE EYE IS ONE COLOR! ONE EYE IS ANOTHER! IT'S LIKE HUMAN NATURE!

[QUOTE=Dreamer3702;2031218
I have a character with one green eye and one brown. It is NOT symbolic. It's a trait he shares with other people in his family.[/QUOTE]

Well that is a new one me but I certainly wouldn't scoff at you as your reader. I would consider it briefly, but no, I don't think you could in any way consider being trite or ordinary on that one.

Without me cheating and looking it up and trying to look smart: does that really happen? Because even if it didn't I would mind a fictional bloodline where it did.

Sassee
02-05-2008, 06:29 PM
I really need to tell my mom she's a walking cliche.

Name: Kate
Hair: auburn
Eyes: hazel

Truth. :)

No wai! Does she (or did she, when she was younger) have relationship issues? Please say no. Then I wouldn't feel weirded out by writing about your mom... lol.

Nakhlasmoke
02-05-2008, 07:17 PM
I've got ahzel eyes that go very green if I've been crying, although most of the time they're that kinda muddy greenish brown that hazel tends to be.

I've had my eyes go yellow though - not bright yellow, but a very amberish green, and that freaked me out something terrible. I had to keep going back to check my eyes in the mirror. Never happened again...weird.

Dreamer3702
02-05-2008, 07:43 PM
Without me cheating and looking it up and trying to look smart: does that really happen? Because even if it didn't I would mind a fictional bloodline where it did.


I don't know if it happens. Its a fantasy... so I didn't really care. The MC does have family members with the same eyes. It's a thing that kingdom is known for - not just his family.

HoosierCowgirl
02-05-2008, 08:20 PM
How many green-eyed red-heads named Kate trace back to the author casting Katherine Hepburn? Just a thought ...

Ann

paprikapink
02-05-2008, 08:27 PM
I knew a woman who had one brown eye and one blue eye. And a chocolate lab. I knew her for months before I even noticed her eyes -- in fact I think she had to point it out to me. It just came up in conversation one day. We met at a dog-park so we were always looking at our puppies, is my excuse.

I think scarletpeaches has mentioned that she has two different colored eyes.

IceCreamEmpress
02-05-2008, 09:40 PM
Heterochromia iridium (eyes of different colors) is, in fact, a heritable trait. It's especially noticeable in cats, which have a less complex set of alleles determining eye color than humans do.

EelKat
02-06-2008, 01:01 PM
The big question is why you're mentioning the characters' hair-and-eye colors at all.

Do they advance the plot?

You bring up a good point here, and now I'm looking at some of my stories and asking myself this very question.

Upon looking at the stories, I see that while I mention eyes and hair quiet often, I don't always mention the color. huh. weird. I do notice though, that when I do mention the colors, it does in fact move the story forward. Wow! I surprised myself there!

So, I ask myself, is eye color important to my story? Does it move the tory forward?

In one of my stories it does... I have a Lutino (an albino with yellow eyes instead of pink eyes) in the story, who as a child (in the 1600's) was considered to be demon possessed as a result of his yellow eyes. In that story the MCs eye color was central to the plot and moved the story onwards, and so in that story, it was mentioned more than once, the colors of characters' eyes.


In another story, I have a merman who lives on land amoung humans, but most humans are taken back by his "strange fish-like silver-blue eyes". In that story, his eyes are central to the plot and move the story onward, because of the way humans react when they see his eyes.


So, my conclusion... yes, eye color can effect your plot and be important to the story, but it isn't always.

EelKat
02-06-2008, 01:23 PM
I don't know if it's a cliche, but it certain bugs the hell out of me every time I see it. It's not so much the notion as the way it's played.

I'm just being grumpy about it. I'm sure someone did it beautifully somewhere and it was subtle and sweet.

But typically? It's basically a sledgehammer.

ONE EYE IS ONE COLOR! ONE EYE IS ANOTHER! IT'S LIKE HUMAN NATURE!



Well that is a new one me but I certainly wouldn't scoff at you as your reader. I would consider it briefly, but no, I don't think you could in any way consider being trite or ordinary on that one.

Without me cheating and looking it up and trying to look smart: does that really happen? Because even if it didn't I would mind a fictional bloodline where it did.


I can't remember what it is called, but yep, there is a thing (gene?) that causes families to have multiple members with odd colored eyes. Usualy it's one blue eye and one brown eye, and occurs every other generation (garndmother and grandson, etc). It's very rare, but it does happen. There is an article about it on Wikipedia, but I forget what the trait is called.

Polenth
02-06-2008, 06:21 PM
I can't remember what it is called, but yep, there is a thing (gene?) that causes families to have multiple members with odd colored eyes. Usualy it's one blue eye and one brown eye, and occurs every other generation (garndmother and grandson, etc). It's very rare, but it does happen. There is an article about it on Wikipedia, but I forget what the trait is called.

Traits don't happen every other generation. It's a bit of an old wives' tale thing that traits skip generations. Usually what people mean is that a trait is recessive, so it can be passed on for many generations without showing. But you don't get a neat situation where granny has it, daughter doesn't, grand-daughter does, etc. It's more complicated. This is assuming a genetically real situation, not something caused by magic.

In this case, it looks like it tends to be a dominant trait so it'd be very common in families with it. The articles you're looking for are these ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterochromia
It covers all forms of different eyes, including inherited and caused by illness.

There is a diagram of how the trait is inherited. Basically, if one parent has different eyes, around 50% of the kids will. Only the kids with different eyes will have different eyed kids. It makes it plausible as a trait that is used as a marker of a certain family. It also raises questions about what would happen to the normal eyed 50%. In a fantasy setting, do they get abandoned, are they unable to inherit, what happens if none of the different eyed ones survive? It could be an interesting story element.

It does look like there's some flexibility to have it as a recessive trait too, meaning it would only spring up occasionally. But that would be the rarity of the rarity.

This article has some nice eye pictures, for those trying to visualise eye colour.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_color

Edit to add: Percentages for the eyes in kids varies if you're having your family in-breeding. But I don't know the complete answer to that question (it's possible that those carrying two genes for different eyes have other health issues, but I couldn't find it out in a quick search).