First, a note about good customer service, since I complain when it's sub-standard.
I had a hardware failure with my e-book reader. Given that I'm out of the country it's a bit of a bother, since I don't have access to my normal library of reading materials. I emailed their help desk, and within hours got a return message saying they would ship me a brand new unit. It won't do me a lot of good here, but I think that in the upcoming world of e-readers, it's critical that the companies provide good service should things go wrong. Having trouble with a reader isn't the same as losing a paperback. So, kudos to eBookwise and their technical support team.
And yesterday's weather was cold and windy, but sunny, so I took a city tour.
On to the floating body part discussion.
Do the eyes have it?
How do you react when you read things like this:
Their eyes met from across the room.
His eyes raked her body from head to toe.
There seem to be two schools of thought on this one. I'm on the side that doesn't mind. I understand that 'eye' can be used as a noun or a verb. "He eyed her" is acceptable. "He gave her the eye" is an idiom I have no trouble with. I don't see him extracting an eyeball and handing it to her. So if a characters eyes move, I don't get visions of eyeballs floating free.
Which side are you on? Would the following pull you out of the story?
Her blue eyes, enlarged by her wire-rimmed glasses, rambled from Colleen's head to her toes.
"What's wrong with my face?" Her fingers flew to her cheeks, and she pulled them away, studying them.
Yet there are those for whom those would be book-tossing offenses. Me, I see the eye movement in the first example, but the eyes remain firmly set in their sockets. In the second, my brain assumes the fingers are still attached to the hand, and I don't think about body parts floating in space.
If we took everything we read literally, a lot of the richness of the language would be lost. If his eyes are pools of molten chocolate, do we really think that he's got Godiva eyeballs? Or just deep brown eyes?
(That's a metaphor, I think – if his eyes look like pools of molten chocolate, that would be a simile, right?) I've never been good at remembering terminology. Metaphors, similes, idioms, hyperbole—they're things I use, but I don't worry about what they're called when I'm writing them.
At any rate, my editor says it's a house 'rule' to avoid using floating body parts. Apparently they want to avoid having books thrown across the room by readers in the 'I see eyeballs' group. I'm guessing they figure that those who don't mind won't notice. For me, however, substituting 'gaze' for 'eyes' in those situations gets tedious and repetitive. Which means I don't feel comfortable with a simple swap, and end up trying to rewrite the entire passage.
Chime in – what's your preference? Which group are you in?