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  • Words for body parts
    by AlanH at 23:57 on 01 December 2013
    One of my writing problems is finding the most suitable word for body parts.

    Example: I wanted a word for that part of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow - the middle part that's often two-toned. Arm is technically right, but confusing and non-specific. Upper arm is two words and doesn't flow. I used biceps, but it's for my female MC and she doesn't have muscles, so I think biceps is a poor word. But what other word is there without going into medical jargon?

    When other writers do this I find myself reaching for the medical dictionary.
  • Re: Words for body parts
    by Account Closed at 09:47 on 02 December 2013
    What's the sentence?

    I'd probably use arm if it didn't really matter or was obvious from the context, "he grabbed her arm" - it's not crucial which, even if I'm thinking of upper arm, or "she drove the hypodermic into her arm" - it's fairly obvious it's the upper arm).

    If it really mattered I'd probably say upper arm, or try to show by context, eg "he gripped her arm, his fingers digging into the soft flesh of her bicep" or something.

    I wouldn't reach for the medical dictionary unless my POV character was a medic!
  • Re: Words for body parts
    by EmmaD at 10:54 on 02 December 2013
    Yes, I agree with Ruth - I think I'd use arm if it wasn't crucial, and upper arm if it was. I'd probably re-jig the sentence to accommodate upper arm if it didn't read well as it was. I do agree that 'bicep' feels too technical/medical.
  • Re: Words for body parts
    by Catkin at 15:07 on 02 December 2013
    I agree with Flora and Emma. "Upper arm" is the most natural term, if it's important that it is the upper part, so I would be trying to re-write so "upper arm" sounds OK.

    I don't have a problem with body parts** but I have always struggled with what I call 'large scale' description - landscapes, townscapes; anything that isn't within a room or a small area.

    **um ... well, with most of them. There is a bit of a problem with some!
  • Re: Words for body parts
    by AlanH at 08:57 on 04 December 2013
    Thanks Flora (Ruth), Emma, and Catkin.

    This is my sentence:

    I study it all of its graceful, tawny length, from the almond of her shoulder to the rainbow browns around her biceps to the burnished walnut of her forearm.

    Now, can anyone honestly tell me that 'upper arm' is a better choice than biceps?

    As it stands, the sentence has rhythm, and a partial beat around the letter 'b'. And that would be destroyed.

    Btw, I pretty sure biceps is correct, because the muscle is in two parts.

  • Re: Words for body parts
    by Catkin at 11:09 on 04 December 2013
    The thing is, with 'biceps' that although it's just the name of a part, there is an association with body-building. A person can have small, undeveloped biceps, but that isn't what naturally pops into the mind - one thinks of great bulging things.

    If you wanted to use 'upper arm', you could get around the repeat of 'arm' in 'forearm' by using 'wrist' instead.
  • Re: Words for body parts
    by AlanH at 11:45 on 04 December 2013
    Yes, I see that, Catkin, but in Willow's case I have already established that she is skinny. In fact, in the prior para James takes the view that Willow's arm wouldn't be able to cope if it was taken shopping. And he sees her upper arm to be as smooth as a length of piping.

    Her wrist is 'assessed' in the next sentence.

    And I guess very few people have a perfect set of body parts. Come to think of it I have an aching left biceps. I don't know why.