Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Thursday, 4 April 2013

CHANGE OF A DRESS

So, we're going to write our story - be that short fiction or long. We know our heroine's (and our hero's, of course, but I'm talking dresses here) character and we've written a little biog about her education and family. We know where she grew up and how it affected her. We know who her friends are. We know her problem at the start of our story and how she is going to resolve it, with and without help from others. We might even know how she takes her coffee and if she loves chocolate or not. But what does she wear? I have just read a novel in which - not once - did I read a description of how the heroine was dressed. It was, I have to say, a very good book - lots of emotion, lots to make me think. By the time I'd finished the book I knew what the heroine's house was like and all the things in it. I knew how the grass felt against her legs as she walked through the meadow. But I didn't have a clue how she was dressed. I'm guessing she wore a dress in the bit where she walked through the long grass in the meadow. Or maybe shorts. I would have liked to have known actually. Clothes can immediately give us an idea of the period in which a book is set. Although not always. I've written stories around fancy dress parties - twist in the tale ones where I fooled (or tried to) my reader into thinking they were back in the Regency era or whatever. There are fiction genres in which clothes do play a big part - mostly the taking off of same by the hero. Slinky satins and slippery silk. The word 'cashmere' conjours up luxury and softness and warmth in our minds, does it not? So, why am I going all girlie with this post? Well, you see, in Waterstones my book happens to be placed between a novel of Nancy Mitford's and Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'. This is entirely because I had the good sense (foresight?) to marry a man with the surname Mitchelmore. But a happy accident nonetheless. And it was that placing that got me thinking about clothes. Think Mitford sisters and we all think class and elegance and dresses. Think Gone with the Wind and I bet we can all see Scarlett O'Hara in fancy frocks. I took a look through some of my own work to see how I had 'dressed' my heroine's - or if I did at all; if I'd left it to my readers' imaginations to clothe the heroine for her/himself. I seem to have a penchant for green in all its myriad shades. Chartreuse seems to be a favourite, but it seems I am also fond of opal and lime. I haven't a clue why because it is a colour I rarely ware. Perverse or what? I'm wondering, then, if 'dressing' our heroines is something we all do. If we think as carefully about the dressed image of our heroines as we do about her character and her story. So, to get you thinking, I leave you with a picture that needs no introduction really....:)

10 comments:

  1. A great post, Linda - got me thinking...

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    1. Thanks for popping by, Margaret....and for your kind words...:0

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  2. A really interesting post, Linda. In No More Mulberries I do describe what the main characters are wearing. As it's based in a foreign country I did want readers to 'see' the clothes but I'm not sure if I would think about it in a contemporary novel and even less so in a short story. I will now remember to do so.
    You've also made me wonder which authors I'd like to be sandwiched between!

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    1. Yes, Mary, I can see in No More Mulberries it would have been impossible not to mention dress. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. Very interesting, as I hadn't noticed in books I've read. I also use green a lot, but that's my own favourite colour!

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    1. Green again! Perhaps it's because green is so peaceful...?

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  4. Great post, Linda... I have to say I now hang on to any clothes catalogues that come through the door so that I've got some instant ideas to hand!

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    1. Lovely to see you here, Chris....thanks for popping by. And a brilliant idea bout clothes catalogues....might pinch that idea!

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  5. Totally agree that it is important what our characters wear - I love reading about it (a mention in passing that the clothes and style of the heroine in Chris Stovell's last novel were essential to knowing her - I loved them). I'm now worried that I'm not nearly so good at portraying my characters' clothes. Will have to go and check!

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  6. Quite agree, Gill, that clothes can be essential in getting to know a character.....hippy or elegant, uniform or ragbag......so much from which to choose!

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