Just a short post today because I was listening to a podcast and heard something that raised my hackles. Or would have, if that weren't a cliche.
The comment in question was that including eye color in fiction makes one a hack.
One of the first things I learned about Scarlett O'Hara in middle school is that she has green eyes. Am I going to call Margaret Mitchell a hack? Not on your life (another cliché! kill it!).
As with anything, eye color can be over-used. If you find that it's the first thing you turn to when you're writing a character description, maybe you need to think about your technique a little more. But some people do notice eye color, and some people do have noticeable eye color. And that should be reflected in your writing.
I don't think a single thing can make you a hack, not even using -ly adverbs. Elmore Leonard had a character in one of his books where every single dialogue tag had an adverb attached. Perhaps he was being ironic; perhaps it was a joke; perhaps he wanted to see whether anyone would notice. Two things to note: it was ONE character, and it worked.
Making guidelines for yourself is fine. Knowing when to break guidelines others have created is better. However, don't make a guideline for an arbitrary reason and expect everyone else to follow it. They're not hacks just because they don't follow a rule you just made up.
In the comments, list any signs you can think of that point to being a hack. Or tell me what rules you think are applied too broadly and need to be checked.