Sentient Limbs

Pet peeve time again!

So, I’m reading a book and suddenly I’m hit with this; Jennifer couldn’t let Paul die. Her hand reached for him.

Or maybe it’s this; Jennifer had to get away fast. Her feet started down the narrow alley.

See the irk? See the splinter stuck under my thumbnail?

Sentient limbs! Jennifer’s hand having a mind of its own to reach for Paul. Her feet deciding to run away.

Just, no!

Limbs are not sentient! (Well, except for in that cool Angel episode where the guy’s hands and eyes and stuff could detach and go and kill and spy on people until Angel and co totally wiped the floor with him). There’s no need to write about her hands doing or her feet doing… just write about Jennifer doing.

Examples for the sentences above; Jennifer couldn’t let Paul die. She reached for him.

And; Jennifer had to get away fast. She dashed down the alley.


Tell me writery folk and editors. Tell me fellow readers. Do sentient limbs annoy the hell out of you too?

17 thoughts on “Sentient Limbs

  1. The worst are eyes. People always seem to have disembodied eyes.

    “Her eyes met his across the room.” Did they roll out of her head, across the floor, then up his body? And if so, shouldn’t we be describing THAT image? (I’m picturing it, and it’s horrific and disgusting.) I can’t tell you how many times I change “eyes” to “gaze” or adjust the sentence in another way.

    And BTW, I’m a HUGE Angel fan, too. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! Kindred sister! God yes that annoys me! I’m always picking it up in my writing and dropping in gaze or something else. Damn. Now I’m seeing that weird dude in Angel and his floaty eyeball!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s an attempt to be florid and ornate and wildly expressive… and failing. Annoying AF.
    Saying that, and because I am a poet at heart *eyeroll* I would use it if I am trying to convey the notion that my body (or translation: my Id, my instinct, my primal side) is acting in spite of my better judgement or attempt at constraint. So maybe: (bear with…this is impromptu…)
    “You place your warm hand on the curve of my waist, my mind is aflame and my heart starts to race, as temptingly, teasing you lean in to kiss, my lips soon respond and transport me to bliss.”
    So basically although I am doing these naughty, saucy things my mind and my lips have an agenda of their own. Figuratively speaking

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll admit that I am occasionally guilty of this. I was avoiding the “Her eyes…” thing for a long time and then stopped being so rigid when I noticed famous/successful authors doing it.

    One of the challenges in avoiding sentient limbs is that we often end up starting every sentence/paragraph with “Name/pronoun verb,” which can become annoying to the reader too. An occasional sentient limb, breaks it up. There are other ways to break up the way sentences start (introductory phrases, for example), but an occasional “Her hand reached for the knife” doesn’t bother me too much. 😀

    Now go check your ms to see if you start two sentences in a row with “She verb” or “He verb.” Happy Writing. My hand is going to post this comment right now. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I know! Just for “fun”, do a quick Word search on “he” and “she” and look for those paragraphs that are particularly heavy on sentences that start with either of those words. If you have 3 sentences in a row, you might reword one of them – not necessarily with a sentient limb, but with something different. Up to you – it’s another crafty thing to consider. 🙂 As if you needed another.

        Liked by 1 person

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