Welcome to week fourteen of my quest through the many writing debates covered in Jeff Gerke’s book, The Irresistible Novel. As always, this week I will summarize a major principle as outlined in Gerke’s book. The major purpose of this book is to help writers to craft an irresistible novel by first locating their precise writing voice.
At very few points throughout his book does Gerke assert an absolute rule, but rather he examines multiple opinions and challenges you to determine your own preferences. So far, this book has really pushed me to write with authority. It’s been very helpful in the editing process of several pieces I’ve worked on or am currently working on. I recommend an in-depth read for any newer writers out there struggling with finding their niche or veteran writers with a need to return to the basics.
Floating Body Parts
Floating body parts refer to instances in fiction where body parts do something or go somewhere out of their real function or ability. (Examples: Her heart fell from her chest and dropped to the floor; Tired feet took him all the way across town-page 91)
This type of writing is most prevalent in romance and young adult genres, and is less acceptable in the literary and adult fiction industries.
Those who are in favor of using floating body part images within their writing usually believe that this type of writing is no different than any other case of figurative language. Floating body parts are examples of hyperbole (and sometimes idioms.) From the fourth grade onward we are taught that one way to strengthen our writing is to include strong examples of figurative language. Using hyperboles are a great way to execute a good show of the plot.
Those opposed to the use of floating body parts tend to see their inclusion as a way of weakening one’s writing, although some truly don’t naturally write in such a manner.
But in the end it really comes down to your genre of writing and your personal preferences. Gerke asserts often throughout his book that you should write as it comes naturally. If you find yourself drawn to using these types of descriptions then chances are that most publishers aren’t going to turn you down because of your use of floating body parts. Do what suits you and your style. If you find yourself distracted by such writing then simply don’t include them. However, be prepared to edit a bit if you are specifically writing romance or young adult fiction.
My Current Project…
As I looked back over my manuscript I had a really hard time spotting any use of floating body parts. I’m sure that somewhere within my 60,000 word document I’ve used a floating body part or two, but I’ve done so sparingly. They are so sparse that in twenty minutes of searching I located zero examples. There you have it folks: I’m apparently not a fan of floating body parts. However, I’m not opposed to reading them. It’s just not conducive to my style of writing.