A/N: Just skip this and go to the last chapter.

Pet Peeve Retrospective: My Eyes, They Burn!

In 2011, I was a stickler about eyes. Those windows to the soul are so expressive that dozens of metaphors, similes, and personifications follow their every move. Some descriptions got on my nerves.

When eyes burned, smoldered, or became embers to convey lust or anger, I was unimpressed. When a heroine drowned in the pools of her love interest's eyes, I saw her flailing in a puddle. Hypnotizing eyes made me sleepy at the count of three. But the metaphor that absolutely drove me to rabid, teeth-grinding, ranting fury was orbs.

Here's an excerpt of my 2011 rant:

Jade Orbs Met Onyx

This is the metaphor that aggravates me most. The word "orb" refers to a 3D object, so if you use it to signify an eye, you're conveying the image of the entire eye. Even if there's an understanding that eyeballs are spherical, we don't see them that way in their most natural state: in people's heads. So calling them "orbs" makes no sense. It makes even less sense when you add colors to orbs, because you picture them in a single color. You know what I think when I see the words "chocolate orbs?"

Malt balls.


Like the title above, fanfic authors are prone to pairing colors of precious stones with orbs to try and make the reference sound better. But describing someone's eyes as shiny stones only serves to make him or her look freaky.

But people might say, that's stupid, [Persnickety Fox]. Orbs refer to irises, not eyeballs. Irises are flat, buddy. That's the cornea you're talking about, and that's transparent, so-I am getting way too into this. Either way, orbs and eyes do not go together in my book.

Back to 2020. When I first encountered orbs, I was fine with them, even if writers would change the colors a bit too much, like jade orbs becoming emerald or garnet, and sapphire orbs becoming cobalt. But once I saw sweet orbs like caramel, toffee, honey, and chocolate, those were just too distracting. "Chocolate orbs" gave me the image of malt balls and to this day, I can't un-see it.

This anger has passed, but it's a reminder that metaphors a writer finds fresh and compelling can be stale or even distracting to a reader.

What metaphors do you find creative? And what metaphors make you cringe?