As a writer, we all want our story to be great. And from our perspective it is. But if our readers (or watchers in this case) can’t follow along, they will lose interest and we may not get them back when we put out our next great thing.
Just the other day I was watching a movie with my wife. I thought that the movie had potential, but I kept getting really confused during a good portion of it. Terminology, technology, concepts, and relationships that I didn’t understand or had never heard of kept popping up. I was getting lost in trying to figure out some of the minutiae instead of enjoying the storyline of the film.
Until I read this post, I did not consider clothing in the grand scheme of character development. My thoughts focused on personality, dialect, family background, and the like for breathing life into the character. If you really think about it, all of those things could paint a picture for the reader when there is action. But what if the character hasn’t said a word yet? How else would another character pick up on these things?
That’s where clothing can play a role. Sure we shouldn’t judge people by the way they dress. That is true. But in a realistic way, we assess people by how they present themselves. For instance, if a character donned a ballet bun, colorful sports bra, tennis shoes, and knee-length leggings, we’d assume the character liked to exercise.
Or consider the photo for this post. The women are dressed in clothing from the 1920s. Could the storyline be a modern Gatsby party? Or could it be a peek into the sophisticated lives of people from that era? It’s hard to tell. But the clothing does tell a story all on its own.
All in all, this is an excellent post. And I truly appreciate the insights that help me and others become better writers.
Clothes can play an important role in depicting mystery novel characters. Clothing descriptions can build impressions and reveal social standing and character personality or values. Clothes are a way to describe class, taste. body image, mental health and even intent. Clothes can make your characters.
But, clothing description must have a purpose. Only describe a character’s clothing if it is important to the story. Here are some ways writers can use clothing descriptions to enhance their novel characters:
In a mystery novel clothes may act as clues. This strategy has endless uses—witness descriptions, shoe prints, fibers, clothing markers.
Use clothing to contrast characters’ personalities—a sexy babe’s short, thigh-high skirt would contrast with her colleague’s conservative at-the-knee hemline.
Use clothing to create authentic settings and scenes. Clothing will differ in foreign countries, historical settings, sciFi.
Clothing can enable a writer to show rather than tell basic character traits. Do his clothes show…
Writing organizations offer wonderful resources for writers. Some writers associations or organizations are free; others charge membership fees. These fantastic writers associations can help you find a literary agent, arrange meetings with editors, go to writing conferences, learn craft techniques, and keep up with changes in the publishing industry.