Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Frankenstein School of Writing

This will be a very quick post. I'm having computer problems. Apparently a second fan has gone out inside my laptop (I replaced the large fan about six weeks ago). The laptop is in the computer hospital, and I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms, looking for friendly computers to use.

I've been doing critiques over the last week, trying to pay back all those kind people who did quick critiques for me on Bad Girl.

One thing I noticed that was consistent across all four critiques I've just done is what I call "animated body parts."

By animated body parts, I mean sentences which seem to separate those body parts from the character, giving them free will. By now almost everyone is familiar with the rule that you should not describe eyes as traveling, wandering, raking, whatever. If you want to imply that someone scrutinized a character, please don't say, "His eyes searched her, looking for . . ." It's kind of creepy in addition to being poor sentence construction. Instead, say "His searching gaze looked for . . ."

What surprised me, however, is the number of times I read sentences giving independent life to body parts like feet or hands in sentences like "His feet crossed the room." What about the rest of his body????

I know in my own writing this kind of thing happens when I'm trying to avoid reusing pronouns like "he" and "she" over and over. However, it gives rise to the Frankenstein school of writing. You become Dr. Frankenstein, giving life to body parts.

Hopefully, I'll pick up my repaired laptop today and be back in business this evening. Wish me well.

1 comment:

Marie Tuhart said...


Hope your computer is fixed soon. I'm guilty of the traveling body parts and I don't care how many times I read to fix it, I still don't catch them all. It's great that you've been able to find them for everyone.