Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Call the Fashion Police! by Stephen L. Brayton

So, um, like, let's talk fashion, okay? Like, clothing, duds, what you're wearing, dude!

“I mean do you see what she has on? I mean, Hello, what decade did you come from?”

“Those shoes so totally go with that skirt!”

“I can't believe it, did you see what he was wearing? I'm like gag me. That shirt was so yesterday.”

In the picture above, I do not know what characters each of these people are trying to represent. Maybe, I'm just not, like, hip enough, or 'with it' to know what's going on here. Possibly they're some video game characters? Or from some movie, that, like, no way would I spend my green on. I mean, let's be serious, here, okay?

All right, enough of the nonsense. Do you realize how difficult it is to write in teen/20-something/slang speak? And I'm probably not correct on context anyway.

My point is, when I was skimming my 2015 Wizard Con pictures, this one caught my eye because it brought to mind fashion and the way people dress and the way characters are dressed in books.

I wear polo shirts and jeans. That's the majority of my clothing. What short-sleeved shirt will I wear today? I am not a fan of long sleeves although I do have them. I just figure that if it's cold outside, I'll wear a heavy coat and wherever I'm going surely is heated. When I want to 'chill out' I do not want to be chilly. On the other hand, I don't want to overheat. I'm more comfortable in short sleeves.

I looked at this picture and wondered if that is how the represented characters actually dress. Do they dress like that all the time? Does it work for whatever story they're in?

I think about clothing for my characters. Does Mallory, the my protagonist in my novel ALPHA, wear a T-shirt today or a skirt and blouse? In a story I'm rewriting, she has to dress the part to attend a speed dating event. She doesn't want to look too bundled up to be a turn-off, but she doesn't want to wear something slinky and revealing, because her purpose at the event is not to attract a date.

When I write a scene, I have to understand that clothing is part of whether the scene works. So picture your favorite character(s) from books. Those who you enjoy reading. Are they dressed for the part? If no description of outfit is mentioned, what, in your mind, are they wearing? If you've read a certain story and then see that book come to life in a movie version, do the characters look like you've imagined? (Okay, I'm not talking about Tom Cruise playing a supposedly 6'4” Jack Reacher.) I mean the clothing? Does it work? Is it credible or appropriate for the character or scene?

Dress in a story is a factor. Many times authors don't think about what their characters wear, but what would happen if a character went into a private investigator's office, or a fancy restaurant, a funeral parlor, a lawyer's office...and saw one of these people in the above image? Think about it? Would it work? Could an author MAKE it work in certain circumstances? I don't know, but it's interesting to imagine the scenario where it would.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

What people wear is part of their character. I have two sets of clothes, the comfy ones I wear at home and when grocery shopping, much nicer ones for doing writer events.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I like comfy clothes too - loose tops and elastic waste and pull on pants. No Jeans - too tight. Finally the fashion industry is making clothes that look in style but are made for comfort. As for characters in my children's books, most of them are animals so I don't need to dress them. But this could open up a whole new story line for me. Beryl