Monday, September 15, 2008

Characterization via Shoes

A month ago, I had a post sharing writing tips from editor Laura Backes. One that stuck out for me was when she said to describe your character from the feet up. I thought that was an interesting approach. Yesterday, I witnessed this technique in action and I was amazed at its effectiveness.

I went to see the movie, The Women, starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett-Smith, based on a 1936 Clare Booth Luce play. It was the epitome of a chick flick. Women filled the theater except for the two lone guys who I figured owed their wives/girlfriends big-time.

I enjoyed the movie, but it was the opening credits that I thought were brilliant. As each of the star's name flashed across the screen, all we saw of her character was her feet as she walked.

Annette Bening-Prada's
Jada Pinkett Smith-Heavy duty, black leather boots with lots of buckles
Debra Messing-Flat pumps and she was pushing a stroller
Meg Ryan-Flats

I was amazed at how much I could tell about the characters already, just by knowing what kind of shoes they wore and the movie hadn't even started. Obviously in film we have the benefit of seeing, but I am sure the screen writer had to write this scene so the director would understand what was going on.

I think this is important for writers to think about because sometimes we go to great lengths to describe a character's personality when we really don't need to. All we need to do is put in some other minor descriptions and through those, our character's personality comes through.

What kind of shoes do your characters wear? Please share.

Happy Writing!


Lillie Ammann said...

This is excellent advice. So often we writers want to describe every little detail about our characters when just a few distinctive characteristics can create a more interesting character in the reader's mind.

Teresa Lynne said...

I couldn't connect with Meg Ryan as there were no men in the movie and we didn't really "See" her go through it with her hubby.

I am more of a connection kinda gal:)

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