I’m reading the HCSB Study Bible for Women with notes from Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley. The notes on Exodus 38:8 discuss how women donated bronze mirrors to build Temple basins for the priests. I thought, Bronze. That means they never saw themselves as we see ourselves. They only saw themselves through a yellow haze. I realize the Bible speaks of mirrors more than once, but I hadn’t previously thought about the significance of ancient mirrors being made of bronze.
I could base at least five devotionals on this thought, but my focus here is on writing. To wit:
Does your reader see your characters in a bronze mirror?
Are parts of your plot seen through an inaccurate lens?
As you write and revise, consider that the reader knows nothing more than what you tell them. No writer can assume that a reader understands what a character is thinking or doing unless the author offers enough detail to make the image vivid. An author shouldn’t even take an ordinary device, such as a telephone, for granted. For instance, a reference to a Blackberry might be considered dated. Imagine a young person today reading a book in which the author didn’t think to describe a character in the 1950s calling into a party line using a rotary dial telephone, especially when that character overhears a secret!
Of course, authors can take descriptions to the extreme. I may be odd (Don’t answer that!), but I don’t have to know that the heroine needs mustard from the grocery store or know that the hero brushes his teeth with baking soda unless the plot will otherwise perish.
The talented author proficient at crisp writing and judicious editing will bring their characters and plots to life to help ensure forever a devoted readership. Look in the mirror. Could that writer be you?
My protag isn’t splashy,
but her groove is on,
wearing Laura Ashley,
teddy bear from Benetton.
She will never have a cow;
her chill is just most excellent
and in this darkling twist of now,
you’ll think that she was heaven-sent
from a large and gentle time
when folks rocked out to Queen,
payphone calls were just a dime,
and one ate at Hard Rock to be seen.
She bids us see our future clearer
by looking in the past’s bronze mirror.
I knew you’d come up with something fun, Andrew!
I also remember when we called in sick to work, we said we were “dropping a dime.” hahaha!
Pam, I’m so glad that you enjoyed this!
And I do remember dropping a dime.
Thanks, Tamela. I appreciate this view and will check my mirrors. Perhaps this modern adage may apply: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”
Oooooooooh – bronze mirrors. Very cool! Thanks for sharing that, Tamela. I sure can use that in one of my fantasy stories!
And yeah, I totally agree about showing our readers clearly what we need them to see. We all have pictures in our minds as we write. Wouldn’t it be great if our readers “saw” the same things we did?
As I approach my 67th birthday, a bronze mirror might be an appreciated gift.
Sara L. Jameson
Thank you, Tamela, for your pertinent reminders in this post. Most helpful.
Linda Riggs Mayfield
Jan Karon is a master of the mirror. Reading a few of her 14-book Mitford Series following the life and family of an Episcopalian priest taught me a lot. At first her repeated device of launching chapters and sections using all pronouns without a noun antecedent identifying the speaker frustrated me, but I soon discovered that I almost immediately knew who was speaking– her “mirrors” were that clear. I just wouldn’t have thought of the mirror metaphor, Tamela. Thanks!
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Tamela, how about a rotary phone with a party line? My folks had one. I understand that Lucille Ball, in her later years, had all of her pictures taken with gauze on the lens. It worked- she looked great. You know, she had a great way of staying young longer. She said women should “live honestly, chew slowly, and…..lie about their age. Works for me!
Man, I’ve got some mind candy to suck on all day through what I’ve just read.
I love the thought that we are each awarded the opportunity in Christ to exchange our “bronze mirrors” for an alter in His temple.
This speaks so much to my heart as I consider that what we most miss in our walk with Jesus is our divine opportunity to be fully reconnected to Him, which allows us to see ourselves, no longer through a bronze mirror, but in perfect clarity as a child of God.
As I read this, I also thought about how Jesus appears in Revelation 1, with feet of bronze. Perhaps, His feet, burnished in our sin, still bear resemblance to every place He has walked beside us.
What a Savior!
Thank-you for this and how it helps me see a new reflection of Him.
I never stopped to think about biblical time mirrors. It shows you where assumptions will take you. Who knew they were bronze? Not me.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments. I am humbled by how this post touched so many of you.
I’ve never thought of Bronze mirrors in biblical times this way. Thanks for bringing this to mind Tamela