wandering body parts

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.