Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Noses. Everybody Has One.

by Niki Turner

It's fiction day, and as one of the few remaining unpubs in Inktropolis, I'm going to share yet another of my recent writing-related learning experiences. Why? Because if you're a writer, you'll probably commiserate. If you're a reader, you'll probably get a good chuckle out of it.

I was plugging away at my current manuscript when I realized I needed to provide a good physical description of my hero's nose. Yes, his nose.

My first thought? Aquiline. How many romances have I read in which the hero's nose is described as aquiline? I started to type it... aqui— and was interrupted. (This inner interruption occurs frequently when I pray for God's assistance with my writing endeavors.)

—What exactly is an aquiline nose?
—Um. Er. Straight? A straight nose?

(OK, if you already know the answer, stop laughing at me. At some point in time you, too, had to learn the definition of an aquiline nose.)

Thank goodness for Google. What did we do before Google and Bing and Yahoo and access to the world wide web? (We wasted a lot less time looking at pictures of unattractive cats and indulging our flesh with annoying political/religious arguments, for starters.)

Anyway... I looked up aquiline at and received the following result:


(of the nose) shaped like an eagle's beak; hooked.
of or like the eagle.
Really? That's not at all what I had pictured in my head. 

Worse, I was directed to a slew of sites about nose shapes and what each shape might mean about personality, character traits, and so forth. There are Greek noses, Roman noses, Nubian noses, hawk noses (John Lennon), flat noses, wavy noses (Owen Wilson), Jewish noses, snub noses, small noses, fleshy noses, celestial noses, bulbous noses... and of course, aquiline noses.

My quickie search for the meaning of aquiline stretched into several hours devoted to noses. (Please, tell me this has happened to someone else.) I read an article, Nose Shapes and What They Reveal; a quiz... What Your Nose Says About You; a CBS News report about celebrity noses; and an entire blog devoted to "the art of face reading" which I may actually use in the future. Interesting stuff.

At this point, I was no longer thinking about my hero's undeveloped nose, but my own nose. What kind of nose do I have, and what does it say about me and my potential for future success or failure?

Several hours later, exhausted by all those noses, I came to the conclusion that my hero, Sebastian, has John Lennon's nose. And now, on to the mouth. And the chin. And the eyes. And the eyebrows...
My lessons for the day? 
1. There may be multiple hours tied into that author's description of the hero's nose, so pay more attention next time!
2. Writers (at least this one) are easily distracted by stuff on the Internet. And... ooh, something shiny! 
3. Just because you like the way a word sounds, don't use it unless you know what it actually means!
What research rabbit trails have you been led astray by lately? 

 Niki Turner is a writer, former pastor's wife, mother of four, and grandmother of two. She is a self-confessed failure at coming up with catchy taglines for her writing, her purpose in life, or what she hopes to achieve in the future. Suggestions are welcome.


  1. I have purposely forgotten all the hours lost in pursuit of some minor historical fact. They make for the most distracting bunny trails.

    I have an entire ebook on describing facial features. Maybe I need to actually look at that book.

  2. okay. i am so laughing at this post.
    "i'm not ADD... oooo look! bunnies!"

    on the bright side of bunny trails: you learn something that can be of use for present work and future MSs.

    now i'm very tempted to read up about noses and see what mine says about me.


  3. Ha ha! I read the whole article you put on facebook about nose shapes.

  4. Ooh, Deb! What's the name of the ebook?

  5. @DebH, glad you enjoyed it!

    We have a (literal) rabbit warren in our front yard. When it snows, if you go out first thing in the morning you can see all the bunny tracks all over. It gives a whole new understanding to "bunny trails"!

    And yes, you're very right... rabbit trails can lead us to all kinds of treasures to tuck away for future use.

  6. Interesting stuff, isn't it, Dina? Glad you read it! It's one of the links in today's post.

  7. Niki, I read a regency last week where the hero had ice-blond hair and black eyebrows and, I think, a Roman nose. Yes, I repeatedly had to force my self to keep reading everytime his haircolor was mention in conjunction with his eyebrow color. He was late 20s so no premature graying.

    Yet, is it actually possible for that color combination? I had to choose to stop wondering or I would have spent hours googling.

    Last week I was lead astray by a broken finger rabbit trail. Started with wondering if a person fell from a ladder, what injuries would ensue? Read about immigrants picking apples at an orchard. Is it possible to break a finger when falling off a ladder? Read about a teenager wanting to know three non-painful ways to break a finger. Was for a school report.

    The more I followed anything that caught my interest, the further I went from what injury did I want my character to have.

    Read all sorts of stuff about ladders. Stuff that I really didn't need to know.

    Is a Roman nose attractive? I should google it.

  8. Gina, on the right guy, any nose can be attractive.

    I've been pretty good about staying off rabbit trails this week. (Of course, I've hardly been home enough to do any work...) Last week I was working on a story about a local Pearl Harbor survivor. I now know far more about Pearl Harbor than a 750-word story warrants...

  9. Oh, Niki (Dina, pay attention too), I forgot to add that last week when I was researching for my christmas novella, I came across a historical tidbit that confirmed...

    why Dina and I must do our backpack from Boston to Deb's house!!!

    There's an 1820 SECRET THING in a town outside of Boston that I have to go visit. Dina would enjoy it too. Have already thought of my plot. :-)

  10. LOL Gina. Thank you, I don't feel quite so alone in my creative meanderings now!

    BTW, the Roman nose, depending on which website you look at, can be anything from a lovely, straight, statue of David kind of of nose to a Barbara Streisand kind of schnoz. : )

  11. Okay, my first thought was that we'd be talking about sense of smell and I was sitting pretty with my superiority on that subject.

    But shapes? Uh. Nope. Except... except (as Gina would say) years ago I read about a Roman nose and checked it out. Yech. The authority I checked at that time showed that all Roman noses were aquiline and had a hump about 1/3 of the way down. It said that supposedly, that's what made it so strong looking - as if it had an extra oooomf to it.

    Let's just say my heroes don't have Roman noses, namely because they're not from Rome. Heh.

    Excellent post, Niki.

  12. Niki! I was giggling when I started reading, and yes -identifying with your rabbit trail - when I scrolled down the page, saw that nose and emitted the most unladylike squeal. Lol! Yes, this happens to me every single time I do research. And I find the most fascinating info. Some useful, some fun. I love research. Thanks for the afternoon entertainment. And, btw, I had no idea what an aquiline nose looked like. It wasn't what I thought, either.

  13. Anita, now I'm all curious about your superior wisdom about the sense of smell!

    I agree... I will probably never again describe a hero as having a Roman or aquiline nose. I could go with Owen Wilson's wavy nose, but it would have to be a very particular hero.

  14. Thank you, Suzie! Of course, every time any of us see "aquiline nose" anywhere we'll immediately think of Sam the Eagle... oh dear, what have I done???

  15. Yes, Niki, what *have* you done? (Snort!)

  16. I really admire noses.

    mine is dangerous. Seriously. If I walk too fast, I can choke on the draft of air going down the pipes.

    My grandson has the cutest manly mediterranean nose ever. no little baby nose when he was born (and I was there). Yes, it's aquiline!

    I like noses with character. Lady Edith's for example.

    Niki, I'll look at my Kindle and send you the link , or better yet, I'll lend it to you if you are one of Amazon's chosen ones, as well...

  17. LOL! Fun post. Count me among the ignorant. I thought aquiline meant straight. Sigh...

  18. Niki... it's not superior wisdom ...

    God gave me a superior sense of smell to make up for some of my other... uh ... other stuff. LOL

  19. This was amusing. I spent the first...hmm...26 years of my life with a slightly crooked nose. It didn't bend to one side; it was just slopped from my cheekbone on one side and almost straight up from it on the other. No one noticed, but I was always self conscious about it because I knew it.

    Then one day while running and not paying attention, I ran into something that hadn't been there the day before--a broken sign post. It broke my nose. By the time the plastic surgeon they called in fixed my nose, it was straight. Except I can feel the line through the middle of what I call my glasses holder--the Eakes family bump below the bridge. Keeps glasses from sliding down the nose.

    (my half sister, whose mother is Jewish, says she got the Eakes bump on a jewish nose.)

    I can also predict when a storm is coming by how much my nose hurts. I have broken two toes and a finger and none give the weather like my nose.

    BTW, I have had surgery inside my nose twie for a deviated septum prior to breaking it, so it's not the favorite part of my anatomy.


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