May 19, 2020

When To Use Gaze Instead of Eyes

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
The improper usage of "eyes" in a story is one of my pet peeves. It usually shows up when a character looks or turns their attention on a person or object.

Luckily the fix is simple.


What's the issue with using "eyes?"


Check out these examples of how I've seen writers use "eyes" improperly:

  • His eyes fell on her
  • She dropped her eyes to the flower in her hand
  • His eyes followed her across the room
  • The man's eyes rose and met hers
  • Her eyes swung in the other direction


Last I checked, your eyes don't typically pop out of your head and:

  • land on someone
  • land in a flower or your hand (or someone else's hands for that matter)
  • trail someone across the room
  • fly into the air
  • swing around in the air

If this is what's happening, your story just took an ugly, bloody turn!


How do you fix this problem?


Use the word "gaze" instead of "eyes."


  • His gaze fell on her
  • She dropped her gaze to the flower in her hands
  • His gaze followed her across the room
  • The man's gaze rose and met hers
  • Her gaze swung in the other direction


This is an easy and quick fix. Just do a search for the word "eyes" or "eye" and make sure you don't have the eyes taking a trip outside of your character's head.


When is it acceptable to use the word "eyes?"


You can use the word "eyes" when you're referring to the eyes in relation to their color or facial expressions.

  • He had golden-brown eyes that matched the amber of her beer
  • She looked a bit cross-eyed as she studied the tiny stone
  • He stared into her eyes


Notice in these last examples, the eyes are not taking a trip out of the person's head.

Keep your eyes where they belong and stick with using gaze when they need to travel.





2 comments:

Mistyb said...

Great tip thank you!!!

Barbara V. Evers said...

Mistyb,
Glad to help.