Posted by: nancycurteman | September 29, 2018

Do Clothes Make The Mystery Novel Character?

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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 sloppiness, extreme neatness, insecure need to put on airs, rebelliousness?
  • Use clothing for quick identification of infrequently appearing characters. One unique or strange garment can be used to identify a character throughout a novel.
  • Use clothing to distinguish between numerous characters that are not important enough to present in greater detail. Again, use a unique piece of clothing for quick identification..
  • If clothing is worth describing, it is worth detailing. Don’t describe it as a jacket, describe it as a very British houndstooth, sports jacket.
  • Beware of lists: He wore a gray jacket, black pants, a red tie with a silver tie clasp and matching cufflinks and topped it all off with a derby hat the same color as his brown loafers. Phew!
  • Variations in clothing can reveal something about a character: Long sleeved white shirts say something different than tight t-shirts. An out-of-style, threadbare collared shirt says something else.
  • Use metaphors and similes to provide interesting descriptions of clothing: She looked like a prize-winning pumpkin in her gold jersey dress.
  • T-shirts with slogans printed on them can say a lot about a character: “I am Woman Hear me Roar” does not connote the same value as “Man Completes Woman.”

These are a few purposeful ways to use clothing descriptions to make mystery novel characters or any other kind of characters interesting. Share any additional ideas you might have.

More tips:

How to Create Characters Readers Can Relate to
5 Ways Negative Traits Make Mystery Novel Characters More Interesting
Perfect Characters are Paper Characters


  1. Reblogged this on Melanie V. Logan.


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