Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Eyes Have It

I was having a look at Susanna Kearsley’s lovely website the other day and the beautiful photo of her eyes featured on the home page made me think about their importance to us writers. I don’t mean just in terms of needing our eyesight for all this writing and reading, but when it comes to creating characters. What our heroes and heroines look like is vitally important and in my opinion the eyes are crucial, especially for the hero.

Eyes obviously play a huge part when it comes to attraction and personally, if I don’t like someone’s eyes, I can’t find them attractive. The clichéd saying “the eyes are the windows to your soul” or something like that really is true, at least when it comes to falling in love.

I’m sure everyone has their own preference, whether it’s the steely blue gaze of a Paul Newman look-alike or the spaniel-brown eyes of George Clooney. I don’t really mind about the colour (although I do have a weakness for green!), as long as they’re surrounded by long dark eyelashes or stand out in some way. Twinkling with humour is good, or flirty and fun with a mischievous glint. I don’t mind them with make-up either, á la Duran Duran or Adam Ant. Just like girls, some guys’ looks really improve with a bit of cosmetic help and as far as I can see, the trend started by the New Romantics has never really gone away among rock bands. Well, why should it? Take Billie Joe Armstrong of the band Green Day for instance – without eye make-up he’s pretty ordinary, but put a bit of black round his huge green eyes and hey presto – he’s gorgeous!

What really does matter the most, I think, is the expression in them. It’s just as clichéd to say that eyes can “smoulder”, but some guys really have that down to a fine art, maybe even without trying. It’s hard to define, but you definitely know it when you see it! And it makes you go weak at the knees for sure.

One of my heroes came about because I was intrigued by the mischievous look in the eyes of a guy appearing in a music video. I was watching Call Me When You’re Sober by Evanescence and almost forgot to listen to the song when I noticed the ice blue gaze of “the Wolf” (the video is a take-off of the Little Red Riding Hood story with the wolf as a human). Judging by the comments he generated on the internet, I wasn’t alone.

So which part of a hero is most important to you? Do you agree with me or does something else do it for you? I’d love to know.

Please come back on Sunday, when Liz will be here with another great post.


  1. Oooh, interesting. While eyes are important, for me it's all about how a hero moves - something about confidence and power and control.

    Having said that, I've noticed that the books that have the best tension between hero and heroine are the ones that handle eye-contact, or the lack of it, well. Always gives me shivers.

  2. Eyes... oh my. There is definitely something about eyes which makes a man attractive. For me it is less about the colour and more about the look. Like Anna it is about the eye contact. Holding your gaze that half a beat longer than they should... which makes your knees go weak.

    *fans self*

  3. Definitely have to know about the eyes of every one of my characters, not just the hero, but the hero has to have compelling or captivating eyes, of course.

    Eyes are so expressive. The windows of the soul, indeed.

  4. I agree about eyes - I think they are one of the most powerful tools a writer has to express a character's emotions, mood, and personality. Eyes warm and soften, they become hard and steely, they glaze over, they narrow or widen, they sparkle or cloud. You can get lost in them, or you can't face them.

    Colour isn't as big of an issue, though I do have a weakness for green as well. It's the way the colour and shape are described that's important. What's sexier - eyes the colour of emeralds or gooseberries? ;)

  5. Irresistable eyes are No 1. Then attractive hands, and - ahem - a nice butt ;-)

  6. I'm glad you all agree, and yes, it's the exchange of glances that really does it I think. Looks can definitely make you shiver! As for gooseberry or emerald eyes - not sure. Emerald is a bit dark, so I usually go with moss. Or how about peridot?

  7. Christina, I agree as well. A character's eyes are often the first things I see when they turn up in my stories, and while their colours can vary from deep blue to grey to brown, the thing that always captures my attention is a sort of quiet intelligence. And laugh lines at the corners, of course, so I know he has a sense of humour..

    I'm forever in awe of actors who can act with their eyes alone -- Richard Armitage is a modern master of this. That final kiss scene in North and South, just as he's leaning in for the kiss, his eyes seem to be asking, 'Is this all right? Is this what you want?', as plainly as if he were asking the question aloud. That fascinates me, even as I'm swooning..