Friday, May 18, 2007

Roving Body Parts

One of my pet peeves - whether I'm writing, editing or reading - is a phenomenon known as Roving Body Parts. Here's an example - "He dropped his eyes to the deep vee of her blouse."
Taken out of the context of the surrounding prose, it sounds even more absurd, doesn't it? How exactly does one drop one's eyes. I've dropped my keys. I've dropped my shoes. Heck, I've even dropped my coffee all over my computer desk and into the tiny crevices of my keyboard. But my eyes do not at any time leave my body. It's his gaze that he's dropping. And if you want to get technical, he's lowering it.

And don't get me started on the hands. Okay, go ahead. Get me started. "His hands wandered aimlessly..." Is it just me, or do you get an image of a couple of those big white Hamburger Helper hands strolling down a country lane?

"Her knees turned to jelly." Okay, maybe the metaphor is valid, but it makes me laugh every time I see it. Grape or strawberry? Could I have some peanut butter to go with that? And while you're at it, I wouldn't mind a glass of milk.

While you may see any or all of these phrases in a published work of fiction, for me it marks an immature writer. The seasoned writer should find a better way to get his or her point across. At the very least, didn't the editor know better?

It's completely possible that you'll find one of these in a published work of mine. I don't pretend to be perfect. Things pop out of your head when you're not looking and glue themselves to the computer screen. I admit it could happen. In fact, if it means that much to you, go ahead and buy all my books and look for them. I dare you!

Just don't drop your eyes while you're looking!

Have a great day.

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