Im sure youve read sentences like the following:
Well, I think you got the point long before you came to the end of those samples. But, just to give you a good laugh, here are a few that actually landed on editors desks:
At one time writers could get away with something that creates strange images in a readers mind if taken literally. However, these days most editors dont like characters doing impossible things with their eyes and expect writers to mean exactly what they write. So go through your manuscript for the word eyes and make sure you havent written anything similar to the above. You might think it doesnt matteryouve seen things like this so many times in published books that it must be all rightbut to an eagle-eyed editor it looks dated at best, amateurish at worst. Besides, you dont want your writing to be anything less than the best, do you?
Characters can also be made to do weird or impossible things with other parts of their anatomy:
Heres another sentence structure that creates weird images in a readers mind:
He had an older sister who wore weird clothes, a shiny new bicycle and a large hairy dog.
But one of the worst I have ever seen (worst because it comes from a winning entry in the Katherine Mansfield Award 2001) has to be the following:
… a phrase soon attached to this hard undergarment in his daughters head.
I had to read this three times. The image of a boned undergarment inside someones head was so weird! I know all writers write things like this in their first drafts, but most of us fix them in subsequent drafts. It isnt as though this one is difficult to fix: a phrase his daughter soon attached to this hard undergarment.. Or: a phrase his daughters mind soon attached to this hard undergarment. Also, associated with would be better than attached.
© L A Barker Enterprises