Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Eyes Have It!

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By Carlene Rae Dater

    The stories in this book will introduce you to a side of police work you’’re never seen, and a group of heroes you’’ve never met. EYES puts the reader in the front seat of a police unit, lets us experience some of the drama, the danger and the joy of volunteers helping law enforcement in all kinds of situations.

Question from the E-mail:  My writers' group jumped all over me because I said a character's eyes were "glued to the page" of the message she was reading. I've seen it done a thousand times. What's wrong with that???

Answer:  First, you  HAVE seen it done a thousand times and that IS what's wrong with it. It's a real cliche!  

Second, because you have seen it so often, you will not pick up on it as a problem when you put on your editor's hat, and look for things to fix, revise or change, before showing the ms to anyone else.

Also, as a publisher I can tell you that "Wandering Eyes" are one of the most common flaws for new writers and can generate cruel humor amongst editors.  

Actually, in all my years of reading, I have seen only ONE book were eyes were actually glued--one of Tami Hoad's where a serial killer super-glued his victims' eyes shut.  It's supposed to be a metaphor and one that's not exactly accurate, although you will "see it done" often!

I HAVE read printed stories, where eyes "slid up and down" someone else's body, "dropped into a coffee cup," and "rolled around the floor." (All those examples are from best-selling authors, as well.) Good editors catch such phrases, as with few exceptions, eyes remain inside the head. 

People, especially editors, with little compassion and a mean sense of humor make cruel fun of "wandering eyes." In an elevator at a Romance Writers' Converence in Washington DC, I heard two of New York's best editors making fun of eyes in recent submissions that had "Slid over someone's breasts," "absorbed someone's luscious lips," and "delved deep within the woman he held." A novice myself at the time, I said nothing, but marked it down as a lesson learned.

HINT: Sometimes you can substitute "gaze," "glance," or "look."

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