Just Because it’s brown — doesn’t mean it’s Chocolate

Sounds like good advice for new parents bringing baby number one home from the hospital. It can also be useful for creative writers who want help their reader “see” their character’s face. But eye color descriptions Eye Colorsare mostly worn-out clichés that need a fresh look. And you can get more for your money with creative color descriptions that also imply other facets of your characters makeup. Here are some ideas I used hoping to “see” a new color nestled among hordes of tired ones:


face with black colored eyesBlack eyes – they add a hint of mystery, shadows, secrecy. I skipped over the coal black, jet black, and pitch-black choices – all clichés – and decided on skunk black as in “Scratching his coppery shag of hair above his dirty, skunk-black eyes, he boasted…” Another option could be, “Eyes blacker than the La Brea tar pits” if I ever have a story located in LA. But I skipped the temptation to use “blacker than my favorite olives” which seems a bit silly.

ice_blue_eyes_by_julietlovespoisonBlue eyes – they imply liveliness, intensity, power. On this over-used list are baby blue, sky blue, and sapphire. My current WIP is in Minnesota – so why not “Icicle blue” for winter scenes and “Lightening blue” for the other three months of the year?

Brown eyes – can show strength, resolve, stability. They Brown Eyesoffer so many ideas besides “chocolate, honey, or tawny” descriptions. How about beaver brown, mahogany brown, chestnut brown, racoon brown, elk brown, buffalo brown, pinecone brown, even monk-robe brown?” For my current WIP, I finally decided on, “the color of her eyes reminded me of shriveled winter apples.”

Gray EyesGray eyes – they signal softness, thoughtfulness, wisdom mixed with adventure. (We Yanks spell it with an “a” – not an “e.”) Smokey gray and steel gray are overused, so I chose “storm cloud gray” which also implies a tone of turmoil, resignation, irritation.

Green EyeGreen or hazel eyes – show energy, rejuvenation, Mother Nature at her finest. I pitched out the “emerald, jade, and sea green” for better choices that add a weather report too: “swamp green, dogdays green, algae green.”

If your WIP is a romance, you may want to add a character with violet eyes – very romantic. Violet eyes call forth purity, innocence, nobility.

So now you have some ideas in how to break out of the “eye color rut.”


6 thoughts on “Just Because it’s brown — doesn’t mean it’s Chocolate

  1. Dear Judith, thank you for this helpful posting. I hadn’t really thought of anything more to use than those over-used words you mentioned for each eye color. Now I’ll look at the novel which I’m polishing and add some depth to my eye descriptions! Peace.

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