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Exercise Wednesday: So…what are you wearing?

September 24, 2014

If you watch Mad Men, then read Tom and Lorenzo’s Mad Style blog, you can get an idea what clothes and color schemes can bring to the table in stressing underlying themes. Reading the posts, you can get a sense of how you can use clothing and color choices to support the themes and underscore plot points in your work.

But, as a writer, you can’t just give Christina Hendricks a black dress with roses on it to wear and let it make your point. You have to do the work.

Today’s exercise involves that work and it comes in two parts–you can do these parts in whatever order makes sense for you.

Part 1.

Think about your character and the situation he or she is facing. It can be any situation, good or bad. Consider their tastes and situation, and what’s going to happen in that scene. Is your character trying to seduce someone? Perhaps a red shirt would be appropriate?

Do they feel confined by a situation or a person? Maybe their clothes should be a little too tight and uncomfortable?

Are they out of sync with the people around them? Maybe they should be wearing a different color or different type of clothes.

Part 2.

Consider the situation you’re sending them into. How would they normally dress in that situation? Why might they dress differently this time around–for instance, if the clothes are too tight, why are they too tight?

Maybe your character yearns for the past, and that’s going to limit him or her? If so, maybe a slightly outdated style would be appropriate, or even–if your story can allow it–a t-shirt for an old television show or a replica jersey for a uniform style that got replaced.

Are they dressed appropriately? Underdressed? Overdressed? If so, what does that say about your character and about what’s happening around him or her?

Once you’ve considered those things, write the scene.

Time limit: Give yourself 25 minutes to consider the clothes and the situation, then another 25 minutes to write the scene


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