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Discussion: Your Evil Red Eyes

red eyes

Today’s topic comes from QSFer Alicia Nordwell:

The use of eye color being a distinctive element in paranormal fiction is really common. Do we naturally associate good/bad with different eye colors? Yellow glowing eyes peering out of the dark, or the use of amber to black eyes versus the red eyes of the vampires in the Twilight series, for example.

It’s an interesting question. We’ve long used physical characteristics as shorthand for a character’s, well, character. Not so long ago, an off-handed comment that a character was gay or bi or trans denoted a villain. Blonde hair was good and fair. Brown eyes are often used with a character who is warm and kind, while blue eyes can denote coolness or aloofness.

So my questions today: Have you used eye color (or other physical characteristics) to denote a character’s temperament? What stories have done this well, or badly? And in doing so, does an author run the risk of stereotyping or slandering a whole group of people?


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