Fiction writing tip: Don’t give body parts the point of view

Unless you are writing a horror novel in which human or animal limbs move about on their own, avoid assigning body parts a point of view that is independent from the character who possesses them. Examples: his eyes stared; her feet walked; his arm reached. Change to: he stared; she walked; he reached.

The most common body part that writers use is the eyes, as in “His eyes never left her.” Much ickier are expressions such as “She dropped her eyes to the floor.” An obvious question to ask with this one is “Did they bounce?” Note that it’s okay to say “He eyed her.” When that happens, let’s hope her eyeballs aren’t on the floor.

Paul Thayer