Monday, July 28, 2008

Traveling Eyes & Alibis

Good Monday morning. I hope you've had a nice, relaxing summer weekend. Here we've enjoyed yet another quiet stretch of time. Yeah, summer is in full swing here.

We had a wild Saturday night. Really, we did. Loud. Exhilirating. Filled with heart-thudding moments. That's right, we had a thunderstorm. Lightning kept the mountains around us almost constantly illuminated and the thunder crashed so loudly we could feel the house shake. Don't you just love storms like that? I do. I really do.

Before the storm, I finished reading a book I picked up last week. It's on the paperback bestseller list and I've been looking forward to reading it. It's gotten some buzz and a bunch of great reviews so I was psyched. And no, I'm not going to tell you the title. I believe in the "if you can't say anything nice..." rule and since I'm going to make an observation that could be construed as less than complimentary I'm going to keep the name of the book to myself.

Anyhow, although I was sucked right into the story I was--over and over again--pulled right out of it by one small issue. It's one of my "peeves" about writing. Notice I didn't say "pet peeves" because I don't believe peeves should be pets. My pets? Pampered, encouraged to grow and flourish. Why nurture something that gets under your skin? Me, I definitely don't pet a peeve.

So, what was it that agitated me? Traveling eyes. On nearly every page one character or another had traveling eyes. As in "his eyes travelled the length of her body" or "she turned, her eyes travelling across the room." In this story eyes swept, trailed, moved, danced...well, you get the idea. When I see any phrase that has eyes leaving a body and moving about on their own I can't help but shudder. I envision eyes putting on shoes and grabbing passports, readying themselves for travel. Do they pack bags to take along when they go trailing? Snacks, to sustain them on the long trip? Or how about when they dance? Do they wear special dancing shoes or do they just hop up and down on their squishy, trailing optic nerves?


Yeah, it's one of my peeves. Eyes gaze. They stare. They blink. They do all manner of things but they definitely should not travel. At least mine don't. And they never will, if I have my way.

I hope I haven't offended anyone by airing my one little peeve. That was not my intention. We all have 'em, don't we? The phrases, situations, nuances that pull us from an otherwise fabulous story...yeah, I think we've all got one or two peeves.

Now that you know what mine is, will you speak up and tell us what one bugs you?

Oh! Right...the alibi. I think I'll keep that observation to myself for now. I fear I've already stirred up enough trouble for a Monday morning.



Unknown said...

Now I'm going to look for that when I read. Traveling eyes, huh.

I don't like it when I'm reading in one character's head then it changes suddenly to bring me into another person's head. I hate that pingpong feeling of going back and forth.

Anonymous said...

I have never considered traveling eyes before but now that you mention it it is kind of strange. Eyes don't really travel do they?

I dislike long back and forth conversations. They bore me. I would rather the conversations in a book be kept shorter. Just me, I guess.


Dru said...

I don't like descriptive text that is carried more than a paragraph or two. I read one book where there was no dialogue for 2-3 pages. I know the sky is blue, but I don't need 25 words to tell me that the sky is blue.

Marianne Arkins said...

LOL... I admit to using "she rolled her eyes" when I write, but otherwise my characters "gaze" will do the traveling.


I can't stand words that distance like "heard, saw, felt". If you're deeply into their POV you don't have to say, "Georgia could feel shivers run up her spine." Just say, "Shivers ran up her spine."


Melissa McClone said...

She even did a work shop about traveling body parts at RWA conferences years and years ago. But I've mellowed a lot and have used it myself. I had a writing teacher though who was adament about not using body parts in writing.

Diane Craver said...

I'm surprised this author's editor didn't have her revise these parts with the traveling eyes.

I use "she rolled her eyes" in my books but actually it is possible to roll your eyes at someone. LOL I should know - I do it frequently.

I don't like it when an author's work is repetitious. One famous author's books would be short if you eliminate her repetitious words.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. The traveling eye thing is kind of creepy now that I think about it. Blech.