Character using mirror to describe physical change important to the story

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Thread: Character using mirror to describe physical change important to the story

  1. #1

    Character using mirror to describe physical change important to the story

    I know a character using a mirror to describe him or herself is clichéd and highly discouraged. However, for my current WIP, I am thinking about having my MC's skin turn green for a magical curse (this is middle grade fantasy), and then reverse back to her normal skin tone. I was thinking about having her eye the mirror and scream and her skin color change. Is this something you consider okay?
    Note that this is part of my novel series (book 3); the ones I removed from the market. However, I still think it would be good to continue to learn more about what works in fiction and what doesn't. These answers can apply to any new fiction I write in the future.
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  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by sunaynaprasad View Post
    I know a character using a mirror to describe him or herself is clichéd and highly discouraged.
    There's your answer!

    I'd know if my skin turned green without a mirror. Don't overthink it!

  3. #3
    Yes, I'd think anyone would. She could notice her hands are now green. If she's wearing shorts or a dress she could see her green legs. If she's out and about, she could see herself in a store window. If a mirror is used, I'd have her see herself in a restroom mirror or something other than her just picking up one and seeing herself. She could see herself in a puddle of water or a reflection on the lake - if you have one she might be at.

    And of course, if it would work for you, you could have someone else notice it and freak, or whatever works for the scene.
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  5. #5
    WF Veteran Tettsuo's Avatar
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    It would be perfectly reasonable for a character who notices their skin has suddenly turned green, to run to a mirror and check their face.
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  6. #6
    Human beings look in mirrors. There's nothing wrong with having your character look in a mirror.

    I think the "rule" about not using mirrors to describe characters came because too many authors used the mirror as a tool for authorial intrusion - they broke POV, essentially, by having characters focus on their own appearance in the ways a normal human wouldn't. When I wake up in the morning and brush my teeth, I don't look in the mirror and muse about my eye colour and cheekbones and whatever else. But if I woke up in the morning and my hands were green, I'd damn well run to the mirror and check whether my face was green, too!

    So I say go for it. A total ban on mirrors from fiction seems like unnecessary overkill.

  7. #7
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    What a silly question (No offense) but why would you even worry about something like a character not noticing it's face?

  8. #8
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    I guess i'm just going to echo what other have already said.
    If it make sense for there to be a mirror nearby, then do it!
    If not, use something reflective to get the same job done (plus you can have more fun describing the reflective object)
    If something reflective ins't present either, just stick with looking at anything the normal person can see from their two eyes, otherwise it runs the potential of screwing up the flow for the reader

    just my two cents :p

  9. #9
    If I noticed a small portion of my hand was turning green, I would immediately run to a mirror to see if parts of my face had turned. Too many rules to modern creative writing. Do away with them and go for it.

  10. #10
    In many stories, and just about every movie, there is the "Mirror Moment" where the main character looks within themselves, wondering 1) if they can go on 2) if they have what it takes 3) if they've gone too far 4) if they've lost their humanity, or 5) something similar. This often signifies a major shift in the plot, a major decision by the character that compels them into action, and it's often near the very middle of the story (or movie). It's such an obvious occasion to use a mirror as a metaphor that it's hard to pass up, but you get extra points for finding a different way for a character to reflect on themselves without a mirror (well, not actual points 'cause no one's keeping score).

    Some movies do use an actual mirror. I could be wrong, but in DieHard, I believe the Mirror Moment is when John McClane is in a restroom pulling glass from his foot, talking to Al, and looking in the mirror wondering if he'll ever see his family again.

    Other movies are more subtle. In Guardians of the Galaxy, I would place the Mirror Moment when Star Lord sees Gamora floating and dying after being thrown from her exploding spacecraft, he looks within himself and decides to put his life at risk to save her. This is a change in his character - he no longer is thinking only of himself.

    It's not a hard and fast rule; more like a general principle to suggest that characters must change in some way as the story moves forward.

    I don't know if any of this is pertinent to your question, it just flared in my brain when I saw your post and I had to get it out.

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