Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lookin' in the mirror: cleaning up our manuscripts

I think many of us may have been guilty of some form of this early in our writing journey: Describing our characters while they look into the mirror; or more specific, the character describes him/herself while looking into the mirror.

It's a cliché!

Remember how I've been writing about "picturing the scene" so that it is realistic to your reader? Well, how often in real life do we stand in front of the mirror and do this (of course I'm having a bit of fun with it):

Jane stared into her sparkling emerald green eyes and blinked, letting her long full eyelashes sweep against her full pink cheeks. She admired her thick golden hair as she brushed it one-hundred strokes plus one to grow on. Her pert nose perted, and her full lips fulled to the fullest. Her high proud forehead with its widow's peak didn't have a forehead butt as that wench Kat Magendie had, and so Jane squeezed her perfectly arched tawny brows together so she, too, could have a forehead butt like the other geniuses did. Jane's heaving bosom heaved as she turned away from the mirror because she was pretty much finished describing herself.

We don't do that. We don't describe ourselves like that in the mirror (actually, who describes herself like that anywhere? *laughing*). I'm not saying that a person never checks out their reflections and comments on something. Sometimes we do that. We look into the mirror and go, "Oh geez-it-gawd, when did I get hair on my upper lip!" haw!

I'm just saying: Be careful with the cliché of a character looking into the mirror and giving physical description. It's been done and done and done to death and it's not a "natural" realistic scene. Remember, picture the scene and make it realistic. Convince your audience.

I am off to my one-week appointment with the surgeon who removed my Angry Appendix. I expect him to say, "You are doing great and I never need see you again . . . " Yeah!

I can't tell you all in enough words how wonderful it is to come here and read all of your comments... *smiling* The days can be pretty reclusive as I work on Secret Graces, so you all are an important part of my day ...thank you for your support.


PS - well had my 1 week check up - I thought the little bandage thingees would come off; nope! Still there. He said if they don't fall off in another week, take them off. I wanted them! *laughing* He also said no lifting over 15lb or for at least another week. Said I'd still feel the fatigue for at least another week. Dang. Said I could resume most activities starting Monday, except for the lifting and no "sit ups," and take it slow. I told him I was going to a Trade Show this weekend - he lifted an eyebrow, but said "Well, you're going to be tired...."


Deb Shucka said...

I hope the checkup goes well. Love the picture and the reminder. Happy writing.

Analisa said...

Expecting a good report from the doc. Yeah!!!

The scene was funny!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Actually, that describing self in mirror scene would be funny if the MC who did it would then tell Self, "OMG, you've really lost it...talking to yourself in the mirror!" LOL

Good luck at doc! :D

Strange Fiction said...

I used a mirror in my first wip but removed the scene in my first revision, for the reasons you mentioned. The book I'm reading right now actually used a mirror to describe the MC. Go figure!

Patience-please said...

Ha ha ha ha hah!!! "so Jane squeezed her perfectly arched tawny brows together so she, too, could have a forehead butt"

Gotta clean the coffee off my keyboard!

thanks for the laugh

Lazy Writer said...

Yep, I had a mirror scene. I already took it out. I hope your appointment goes well.

Barbara said...

Oh the dreaded mirror scene!! Funny, Kat.

And I'm glad your appt. went well. Patience. This too shall pass. And after feeling punkish since last spring, just think how great you're gonna feel once you get your strength back! No seriously. I felt reborn! (Okay, that's a little overstated. But I felt a whole lot better than I had for a long time. Cause mine was brewing for a long while, as well. Ugh.)

Sheila Deeth said...

Try not to be too tired. Lovely fun scene.

Rick said...

I love your cat/lion picture! And I was just thinking about what you wrote in this post, so we must be psychically linked somehow.

Nancy said...

Any chance to avoit sit-ups and I'd take it.

Love the mirror scene. I think old children's books used to do descriptions that way. Take it easy.

Terri Tiffany said...

GROANNNNNN I had a mirror scene. UGH

Jessica said...

I'm glad the appointment went well. :-) Love your mirror cliche! LOL My mirror scene in real life, she looked in the mirror and said, dear God, why did You make my eyes so small and my nose so big? LOL

Nannette Croce said...

I once read a book where the whole thing is a memory the guy has while standing in front of the mirror tying his tie! And that was the least ridiculous part of the story.

Amy said...

Oh God. I have a mirror scene somewhere in my book. Guess I'd better rethink it. I didn't realize you had your appendix removed! Glad you're doing ok and try not to push yourself.

Sandra Leigh said...

Kat, be careful. Your resistance will be down. Think of yourself as a princess. Demand your due. Don't stand if you can sit. Don't sit if you can lie down (etc., etc.)

While you're at it, you might want to try demanding chocolate. You never know -- it might work. ;>)

A Cuban In London said...

Well, hair on upper lip notwithstanding (that was a good one), fiction in a way is a spin-off from our real self. And sometimes we re-invent that real self. And sometimes we go too far.

Great post and picture. I bet that kitty was disappointed and confused when the buffalo charged towards it.

Greetings from London.

Titus said...

Wah! I've written a whole sestina about a woman putting on make-up in front of a mirror. But maybe she's not describing herself, more being observed.
Anyhow, good luck with the healing!
And I like Sandra's suggestion. I must think of myself as a Princess more often. Now, which one?

Michelle said...

Laughing my own forehead butt off here at your Jane squeezing of forehead butt and stuff!