She tossed her head as his eyes roamed her body

Imagine the horror to his poor roaming eyes as she tossed her head. Where did she toss it? And did she first holler, “Catch!”?

Roaming eyes and tossed heads – otherwise known as wandering body parts. Keep those parts attached to the body and the image won’t be quite as grotesque as a tossed head or worse. And yes, there are worse.

I’ve been writing now for… a long time… and those wandering body parts still tend to show up in my work. On first draft. A fresh phrase isn’t always easy to find, especially when you’re on a roll with story details you didn’t realize you knew. Yes… that happens. Scene basics and dialogue sometimes spew forth from my fingertips to the keyboard to the page so quickly the precise wording has not yet been uncovered. It’s when polishing time comes that those nasty little things are noticed – hopefully. Nasties, such as wandering body parts.

Just before I came here to blog today – in fact it’s the reason I’m here blogging about this very thing – I proofed a scene that I’d just written. It’s the opening scene of my final chapter. A chapter long in coming. My heroine has been through a lot.

A. Lot.

Poor thing.

But she’s been made stronger because of it. All of it. However, this scene brought on her breaking point. It was hard for me to write… or to start. I knew the emotional investment would be high. The heavy scenes wear me out. This one was heavier than expected for some reason. Maybe because I’ve become friends with my heroine and have decided she’s someone I’d like to finally see happy. But to get there, as I mentioned in another post, she’d have to suffer through the tough times in order to make her happily ever after that much more rewarding.

Well, I proofed the scene so I could finally consider it done and move on, when much to my amusement, my heroine did something totally unexpected. She lifted her face to the ceiling. Now, I don’t know about you, but… first of all, I’m not 8 feet tall, so lifting my face to the ceiling would be tough for me without a ladder. Second, did she take her face off and hold it there against the ceiling or did she just kind of, stand on her toes and press it to the plaster? Hmm? And why… please tell me why… would she lift her face to the ceiling in the first place?

In defense of my heroine, she is rather distraught. But while she might have thought (because I told her) that she lifted her face to the ceiling, what she actually did was simply tip her face up toward it. Ah, see? No wandering body parts, no horror-scene flashes. Just a little effort on phrasing and my heroine is once again a normal human being instead of some shape-shifting creature who can stretch her neck to insane lengths or remove parts of her body at will.

6 Responses to She tossed her head as his eyes roamed her body

  • “And did she holler ‘catch?'” LOL That made me laugh.

    Now, I have to say that ‘tipping her head’ seemed a little more unnatural than ‘lifting her face’. Although, I do see the “wandering” part of that. Wouldn’t it be nice if our body parts didn’t get in the way? 😉

  • Laura,
    Tilted. Maybe I should have said tilted instead. Funny how suddenly nothing sounds quite… natural. And yes, it would be great if our body parts didn’t get in the way… though writing romance wouldn’t be half as much fun. 😉

    ~Debbie

  • Hey Debbie, when I’m rereading my stuff, I find those roaming body parts, too. I also look for body parts (descriptions) that serve no purpose– Why say a guy weighs 350 pounds if his actions don’t reflect his exertions in climbing a hill, falling down, or catching his breath. If a character’s feature doesn’t mean anything, I get rid of it. I do a lot of reducing. I boil it down to the essence.

  • Oh, yes, the wandering body parts. They crop up all over in fiction, don’t they? Actually “she tossed her head” is sort of idiomatic, but roaming eyes and lifting heads are no nos. But great news that you started the final chapter of the book. That’s wonderful, even if it was tough to write. I bet it’s really good though. 🙂

    Linda

  • Kathleen,
    So true… why bring in details that won’t matter later on. And it’s not only physical details but sensory or tactic. I had my hero bring plastic sheeting out to my heroine’s car at one point – to cover a shattered window. He never got to cover it but then… the plastic sheeting never came back into the story. I thought it would but since it didn’t, I had to go back in and take it from his hands. I think that’s what happens sometimes. As writer, we think details will matter later on so we put them in. Thing is – we sometimes forget to take them out. :-/

    ~Debbie

  • Linda,
    It was – is – tough to write. I’ve poured everything I have into this story – as writer’s tend to do. This final chapter is vital and I want it to be just so. I’m writing and revising as I go. Believe it or not, I’ve written five pages of notes for this chapter and have spent the last few days analyzing those notes, tweaking them, making them fit just right so when I finally sit to write it, it flows smoothly to the end. I’m not normally a plotter but this chapter needs me to stand back and think it through before surging ahead to the end. Ah… THE END. Soon…

    ~Debbie

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