Dressing the Characters

Reading my manuscript as an e-book is an interesting experience. At times I get caught up in it, but then I find myself reading critically and spotting things I want to fix. I’m getting more into it as I progress, probably because I’m past the spot where I rewrote it over and over again so the words are less familiar.

I got sidetracked yesterday, though, by designing “costumes” for my characters. I realized I have almost no description of what anyone’s wearing. I have a mental image, but I haven’t conveyed that very well. I don’t necessarily feel the need to describe everything everyone wears, but I do think I need to convey the overall sense of what people are wearing in this world.

This is “secondary world” fantasy, so I don’t have to be accurate to any particular time period, but that in a way makes things more difficult because it’s harder to find reference images to help me have a more solid mental image for me to describe. So far, I’d describe the overall look in this place to be medieval meets Old West. Of course, I can’t use those terms in the book because these people wouldn’t know what either of those things are.

When I first started writing down the stories in my head when I was 12, I tended to get sidetracked designing costumes for my characters. My notebooks of story notes have as many (very rough) drawings of dresses as they do real story notes. That meant I didn’t get very far in the writing part. Now, though I seem to have swung the other way and my characters seem to be walking around in generic, bland clothing that doesn’t get described. They’re wearing pants and shirts and dresses, but there’s no hint at what they look like.

And that meant some searching online to find examples of things to help me create an overall look. It was kind of fun, I have to admit. I’m not trying to draw things now, just finding images so I can think “these pants plus this kind of shirt and this kind of jacket, but without that trim.”

I’ve also found a few dresses and blouses I’d love to have, but I wouldn’t have anywhere to wear them. Maybe when I make a profit on this book, I’ll celebrate by buying something.

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