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  1. alpacinoutd

    alpacinoutd Senior Member

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    a woman looking into the mirror

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by alpacinoutd, Aug 8, 2020.

    Hello everyone,

    I am trying to write a scene where a woman looks at herself in the mirror.

    I have to point out that I'm doing this for the sake of practicing.

    I want to describe this scene is quite a dramatic way! And touch upon concepts such as feminine perfectionism and their concern with age and passing of time.

    I have been thinking about this for like 5 hours and nothing comes to my mind which is rather frustrating!

    I wrote this:

    She looked at her image in the mirror, a woman whose glow has faded with the passing time, she thought to herself. Her focus was mainly on what she perceived as flaws. She just remembered how much she hates mirrors as they never lie. There is no hiding from the harsh reality reflected in a mirror. Mirrors have no filters.

    Firstly, what do you think about what I have written?
    And secondly, how would you go about writing about "mirror" and a "human's reflection" in it?
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I think you did just fine. However, I would recast the first sentence as:

    The image she saw in the mirror was a woman whose glow had faded with the passing time, she thought to herself.
     
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  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    be aware that female protagonist looks in mirror and describes herself is a cliche... often found in the drossy end of the romance market... generally going along the lines of "ursula looked in the mirror taking in her vivid green eyes, high cheekbones and long flowing red hair. she smoothed her hand over the curves of her body, I'm hideous she thought, no boy will ever love me "
     
  4. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    It's also not very realistic, in my experience with myself and other women I'm friends/acquaintances with. As a woman on the cusp of 50, the number of times I've stared into the mirror and obsessed over my flaws and fading beauty is zero, despite a bunch of books (mostly written by men in the examples I've seen) for some reason insisting that this is a common habit among women.
     
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  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Its mostly just a lazy way of disguising exposition as character thought... I've seen it done with men too.. they're mostly shaving "Jett took in his peircing blue eyes and raven black hair as he ran the razor over his manly chin"

    I don't generally notice my eye and hair colour while i'm shaving, mostly cos i've been looking at this face for forty plus years.... i'd tend to suggest just lobbing in a ouple of lines of exposition and cutting to the chase.

    "moose had a face that said he'd been in a few fights in his life, and lost most of them' or 'jessie had been stunning in her youth, but she wouldn't see 50 again, and her beauty was fading like a dying flower'
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  6. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    She looked into the mirror, admiring her lustrous hair, large, depthless eyes and wet lips.

    "Woof," she said.
     
  7. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    She glanced once in the mirror, and turned away. She already knew that her youthful beauty was fading, and her hair was turning a sterling grey. There was no point obsessing over it, especially when there were bon bons in the house.
     
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  8. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Mirror mirror, on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all?

    Eva pulled at the bottom lid of her right eye and leaned in for a closer look. "Not you, you ugly bag," she said derisively before turning away.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    "What's with my eyebrows?" She wondered, face beginning to shade into irritation. "Who painted these ridiculous things on me? I look like a clown. Oh, somebody is getting fired!"
     
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  10. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    We've all had our fun with this, but alpacinoutd wasn't using the device as a way of putting in a character's physical characteristics, but as a way of her meditating on how the image has changed over the years. I don't think that is a problem.

    True, some writers use the trope as a cheap device to describe a character. Others have their characters look in a mirror and surprise us with what they see. Leo Kottke did this brilliantly:

     
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  11. hankas

    hankas New Member

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    She looked at the mirror, just like she did every day, but this time she noticed her face was not quite symmetrical. Her lips were slightly pulled to the right. She smiled and made various shapes with her mouth giving her facial muscles a good workout, and the asymmetry disappeared as if it was never there. She watched how dry her skin was and she found wrinkles around the corner of her eyes. She rubbed the skin with her long fingers and the folding marks remained. Her upper eyelids too seemed thick and started to droop. The mirror was unusually clear and revealing that morning. Something was different that day. Was it the light? Or was it ... Oh right, today was her son's first day in college and she had better hurry. The lady in the mirror rushed and disappeared behind the door.
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I like all these examples here. And I've always loved Leo Kottke!
     
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  13. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    The bodies of a dozen YerCRDI engineers twitched upon cold tile. They had already been forgotten. Cyzarine caked on more makeup. She worked in imitation of the magazines she'd stolen from the Fundament's lab assistants. It was a disguise she thought, and a fine one at that. She primped. She added more rouge and foundation. She slathered excess upon excess until her face was a mad artist's impasto. She met her reflection's own dead eyes. More Popov than pin-up, perhaps. A clown, a Soviet puppet. But if she realized so much, she didn't show it. She adjusted her face plate.
     
  14. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Literally no one, ever, thinks of themselves as a "woman whose glow has faded with the passing time". It's fine as narrative - it's not fine as a character's personal inner monologue. The other lines sound fine to me.

    I think what might help is for you to come up with a reason for why she's staring at the mirror. What does she hate about her face and why? Why does it matter, today of all days, that she should look beautiful and simply doesn't? What happened to make her pay attention today? A face is a story and all.
     
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  15. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I think that's what the story is about. We're only seeing the introduction.

    What I think is the operant motif here is the phrase: There is no hiding from the harsh reality reflected in a mirror. Mirrors have no filters.

    It implies that for years, the woman has retained a false impression of what she looks like, but the mirror reminds her of her actual appearance. I think we all do that. I remember when my mother had her leg amputated, and my sister-in-law I were discussing how that might damage her self-image. My SIL said "In her mind, she's always thirty." I never forgot that.
     
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  16. Storysmith

    Storysmith Active Member

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    If the woman looks in the mirror, I'd have her notice smudged make-up, her hair out of place, or maybe a worrying stain on the ceiling.

    As others have said, staring in the mirror and pondering her faded looks doesn't sound that realistic. However, seeing a beautiful young woman who looks like she used to in her youth, and feeling envy and thinking on what she's lost - that sounds believable.
     
  17. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with you - but the author needs to know all this, and then he will know how he should describe a woman staring at the mirror. I feel it's less a problem of words and more a problem of a lack of story in the author's mind. He's only thinking of the physical act of looking in the mirror, not why a woman might be looking at the mirror.
     
  18. alpacinoutd

    alpacinoutd Senior Member

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    Thanks everyone. Could you please tell me what you think about this sentence?

    In the mirror, she caught a glimpse of a few strands of silver hair at her temple. This was the first time she felt her youth was slipping.
     
  19. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    It's good. It says all that needs to be said.
     
  20. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    I like it very much.
     
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