Looking in the Mirror

Today’s tip comes courtesy of an article I read the other day, Notes from an Editor. Read the article. It details the sort of things editors wish authors would look for before submitting manuscripts.

Today I’ll focus on the part that says, “Refrain from having the main character look in a mirror, a reflective object, or anything else of the sort.” I’ve done it before; it’s an easy way to get a character’s description without moving out of POV. However, as the article says, it’s trite.

But there are other ways to get across a description. One of my favorite mechanisms is having the character compare himself to someone else.

For example,

Marjorie hated Chloe. That cheerleader couldn’t seem to do anything wrong. Everyone loved Chloe . . . from her clothes straight from Paris to her blonde hair styled with curls.

Marjorie’s straight, flat, mousy brown hair paled in comparison. And her clothes . . . hand-me-downs–dirty, stained hand-me-downs. There was no way she could ever compete.

(I’d fix it up better, but you get the point)

So what about you? Do you have a description device that other writers can use? Or do you have a pet peeve that other writers should avoid?


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