Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wandering eyes... and other body parts

Sometimes  certain constructions strike me as amusing. This week I keep coming across sentences in my reading which have wandering eyes. (Please contribute others if you find them!)

Here's one:
(There was an officious policeman in the vestibule. ) (In previous paragraph)
Holding his eye, Connor said, "We'll have some company soon."

Now it just happens that there's someone in this book with a glass eye! No kidding. So for just a moment, I envisioned a man with his hand cupped and in it his glass eye.

Then I shook of that idiocy and thought maybe the policeman had beaten Connor up and Connor was cupping his hand over his own eye in remembrance of a black eye.

Then I realized the "his" must refer to the policeman, and Connor was looking at him and "holding his gaze," maintaining the eye contact between them. It was the policeman's eye that he was holding!

We sure use all the permutations of vision in all sorts of interesting ways. "I see...."

Anyway, that was one. Here's the other. This is a dangling modifier, but whenever danglers involve body parts, they end up hilarious:
Coming down the Spanish Steps, his eye was caught by a mime performing up on the stone wall.

This time I imagined an eye bouncing down the steps, and a mime reaching out (silently, of course), to grab it.



Tacy Ray said...

I just read a book that had memorable sentences such as: His eyes lit up as they poured into mine and his eyes combed my face. Pouring, combing eyes give me the creeps :)

Stephanie said...

Thanks for this. I'm still laughing. Wandering body parts are one of my favorites.

Jane George said...

Eyes dropping and rolling are always lots of fun.

Edittorrent said...

Tice, Thanks-- I love examples. And you're right, pouring eyes are pretty gross.
I remember when authors used to have lines like "Sapphire eyes gripped emerald." It was considered sort of evocative. Maybe we've just all seen too many horror movies, and imagine eyes on stalks, pouring, combing, gripping-- I mean, we've seen those.

Wes said...


I didn't realize how much I had overused some aspect of eyes until Theresa pointed it out in my MS. Thanks, T.

Edittorrent said...

Wes, do you think it works to just change it to "gaze?"
His gaze wandered to her shapely ankles.

She caught his gaze and returned it.

Christine Tyler said...

The first time i learned about this mistake, it was a critique partner laughing her butt off at this sentence in my wip: she caught his eye, dancing and bobbing in the square with the other men.

I was like, "whats so funny??"