blog about reviews writing

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't Ever Do This #1: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

Today I'm going to share a cliché with you. Hopefully you're already aware of this, but you never know.

Character description is a weakness for a lot of writers. But they can't escape it, so instead they turn to the old mirror trick. It usually goes something like this:

Bobina Billifred peered at her reflection in the mirror as she brushed her hair, smoothing out her silky black locks. She frowned at her too-small lips and her annoyingly large chin. Her eyes were a sparkling blue, though--her best feature. She thought herself averagely pretty, nothing more. Sighing, she started to put on her makeup....

So, for starters, I made that a bad piece of description on purpose.  But, do you see how cliche that is?  It's just a block description (that's another post for another time) that's in disguise.  Don't do it, okay?  There are so many more creative ways to describe your character.  The best way is just to slip in an adjective here and there during a dialogue sequence or something.  Mirrors are for amateurs.

Pools of water are the same thing, by the way.  Don't try to be clever and use other sorts of reflective objects.  It's still a sign of weak writing.

I saw this in a published book yesterday.  You can imagine how it made me cringe.

So, blog followers.  Do you get it?  Have you ever seen this in a published book and rolled your eyes?  Do share! 

Don't use the mirror trick!  And yes, that is what you think it is: The Mirror of Erised.  No, Rowling didn't use the cheap mirror trick... I just felt like using that picture.  Harry is so little and it's so sad. 

PS: Sorry, iPod users.  I know my blog is messed up when you view it from your browser.  I'm trying to set up a mobile site, but I'm not sure how.  If anyone knows how to do that, please share!


  1.>Settings>Email & Mobile>Check "Yes." :)

    Anyway, I saw this in a book recently too. A couple actually. I think the mirror thing only works if there's a purpose behind them looking in the mirror, meaning not the cliche "I'm fixing my hair or doing makeup kind," but if a character is in a dance class or something and their teacher is making them stare in the mirror, then I think that'd be okay for some type of non-info-dumpy description. But other than that, I completely agree. :)

  2. I loath the mirror trick!! I remember I used it once when I was a kid in one of my first stories. I also hate block descriptions or info dumping. When I see this in other's work, I critique it like crazy :)


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