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June 13, 2016

Is Your Character Naked? + Cover Reveal for At First Blush by Beth Ellyn Summer



Many writers don’t bother to describe what their characters wear. This could be good and bad. Good because long-winded descriptions of attire is boring and unnecessary. Readers will skip it. Bad because this is an opportunity to express your character and show their personality with what they wear. Clothing says a lot about a person in real life, and it can do the same with characters in fiction.

Let’s take a look at how:

1. Is your character quirky?

A quirky character will use clothes and jewelry as an artistic outlet. They may mix and match patterns, wear combat boots with sundresses, pearls with overalls, or paint splattered sneakers. Anything that seems a bit odd, this character can wear it and will wear it proudly.

2. What does your character wear to work?

What we wear to work says a lot about us and our position. It also shows how seriously we take our role/success/responsibility. Imagine a man in a suit and tie, or a woman in a dress and heels. But different jobs require different apparel.

Doctors/nurses – scrubs, lab coat, sneakers.
Cops/firefighters – uniform, protective gear, boots.
Construction worker – shorts, cotton T-shirt, hat, work boots, towel/bandana.
Full-time writers – pajamas. :P

3. What does your character wear at home?

This one will really reveal who your character is if their work is a major part of the plot/story. As soon as your character comes home, does she kick off her heels and put on sweats and fuzzy slippers? Does he take off his shirts and pants and walk around in only his boxers? Show how comfortable they are and how they relax at home.

4. What does your character wear to a date?

If we really like someone, we dress to impress. Women might wear a low cut something-something or a short something-something. What your characters are doing also factors into what your character wears to the date. Jeans and a T-shirt is perfect for the fair. Black, flashy, and stretchy is good for a bar.

Use these opportunities to briefly describe what your characters are wearing, or more specifically the MC (or hero and heroine in a romance story). Not only does it reveal a lot about your characters, but it lends to the realistic factor. Because if you don’t mention your character’s clothes at all, is he/she naked throughout your story? Well…that’ll work for erotica. ;)
TIP #1 Clothing is especially important for historical stories. They won't wear what we wear now, so we need to know how they dress. Corsets and hoop skirts. Trousers and stockings. Cowboy hat and chaps. These details help enforce the time period and genre. 
TIP #2: The same can be said for culture. For example, if you're writing about an Islamic woman, she'll need to wear hijab (headscarf), niqab (face veil) or burqa (full veil with a mesh screen to see out of). 



QUESTIONS: What is your MC wearing right now in your WIP? If you’re a full-time writer, do you wear pajamas while your write?


***

Today I am happy to help Beth Ellyn Summer with the cover reveal for her debut novel At First Blush. Beth is such a sweetheart, so please show her some love. :)


At First Blush Cover
Genre: Contemporary YA

BLURB: 

Lacey Robbins has one goal for the summer: hit one million subscribers on her YouTube beauty channel. Working as an On Trend magazine video blogger is just the platform she needs to get there, but falling for the cover boy, rock star Tyler Lance, was not part of her plan--especially since his dating history is longer than her Sephora wishlist.

She can't avoid him for long though, not when it's her job to film vlogs with him. As Lacey and Tyler grow closer on and off camera, her channel becomes popular for all the wrong reasons, and the two YouTubers she's working with officially hate her. Lacey's only solace is spending time with Kendall Wynn, On Trend's resident makeup artist. Kendall's scattered, carefree approach to makeup reminds Lacey why she ever picked up a tube of lipstick in the first place.

Nothing about this summer is going according to Lacey's perfect plan, and pretty soon she learns that filming makeup tutorials is easy. It's real life that could use some editing.


BIO:

Beth Ellyn Summer

Beth Ellyn Summer writes contemporary young adult fiction that somehow always includes the following elements: fame, makeup, and television. She graduated from Long Island University with a degree in Print and Electronic Journalism. Interning for Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon was the highlight of her college years. When she's not writing, Beth can be found swatching eyeshadows, solving Wheel of Fortune puzzles, and playing with her adorable cat, Penny Belle. Beth lives on Long Island in a cookie cutter town that, in an ironic twist of fate, doesn't have a single decent bakery.

Many writers don’t bother to describe what their characters wear. This could be good and bad. Good because long-winded descriptions of attire is boring and unnecessary. Readers will skip it. Bad because this is an opportunity to express your character and show their personality with what they wear. Clothing says a lot about a person in real life and it can do the same with characters in fiction.


LINKS:



72 comments:

Lidy said...

Hi Beth! Love the cover of your book. And great tips about clothing. Just realized that the MC in my current WIP is walking around naked. Can't have that. Inot another WIP my MC is all bohemian chic and likes to wear long flowing skirts and tunics.

Unknown said...

yay! thank you so much for sharing!! Looks so nice here <3 :) you're the best! And clothes are very important for my characters. I'll read books sometimes where it's just not mentioned and it irks me, b/c I think it tells so much about the person. Since my MC's are into fashion, I def throw in a lot of little detail, like crop tops with high waisted shorts paired with braided belts, and in scenes where they have big events I like to go online and search for dresses to get ideas on the detail.

Unknown said...

thank you :) I love it! <3

Chrys Fey said...

I'm so glad to help you out, Beth! :) I've used the Internet and fashion magazines a few times to inspire me. I also like to draw designs, so sometimes I detail a dress I drew. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I love the bohemian chic look. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great cover, Beth Ellyn!
I'm sparse when it comes to clothing. Trying to be better.

Chrys Fey said...

A little mention here and there is good. :)

Christine Rains said...

Congrats to Beth! It's a fabulous cover.

I usually don't tend to notice clothing on myself in real life, but I know that readers love those details. Clothes say a lot about a character.

Chrys Fey said...

I just dress comfortably in real life, though I like fashion. With my characters, I like to briefly mention what they are wearing to draw a nice image.

Birgit said...

Congrats to Beth and a great looking cover. My uniform, when I get home, is usually my pajamas and my navy blue housecoat that I'm certain my husband would now love to burn. If I wrote something about clothing and a character would be naked, I would be so tempting to write about an overweight hairy man who loves to walk around naked and answer the door that way too. Let's say Bubba would be proud of his body especially since his back could be braided:)

Bish Denham said...

Depending on the story, there might be a brief description of clothes. As for me, I'm no clothes horse. I'm casual comfort all the way. And when I'm at home, it's "house rags" for me! :D

Chrys Fey said...

That visual of an overweight, naked, hairy man is not one that I needed. LOL!

Chrys Fey said...

I'm the same. I like fashion but don't wear it. At home I wear crap. haha. When I got out it's jeans and a cotton shirt. :) Every type of story can do with a brief description here and there of what the MC is wearing, especially if they are going somewhere.

nashvillecats2 said...

This was great to read. As a poet I don't usually have characters except when writing about Danny Boy he's yet to make me blush.
Yvonne.

Chrys Fey said...

Danny Boy hasn't made you blush? Shucks! ;)

Carrie-Anne said...

Congratulations, Beth Ellyn! That cover is so original and fun.

I love describing what my characters wear, particularly if it's a bridal gown. I base a lot of my bridal gowns (rarely white) after period-style bridal gowns I've found at online specialty shops. It's also fun to describe clothes of the past. I think my favorite site for vintage fashion research is Vintage Dancer, which has so many articles and style guides about hats, men's wear, dresses, undergarments, accessories, shoes, bathing suits, and other types of apparel from decades past.

I think every person my age, particularly women, remembers the constant, outlandish descriptions of Claudia's outfits and jewelry in The Baby-Sitters' Club series!

Chrys Fey said...

Describing clothes of the past is fun. And a nice challenge.

Ha! I didn't read much of the Baby-Sitters' Club books, but I can imagine the descriptions for Claudia's outfits.

Lisa Thomson said...

Great post, Chrys. I think describing clothing can play a key role in writing a sexy scene. I have some characters that like dressy, some jeans, some vintage. It definitely reflects their character. Great suggestions you've provided too!

Lisa Thomson said...

I forgot to say hello to Beth. The book cover is awesome!! I love it.

Tamara Narayan said...

I don't wear pajammas to work, but then again, I sleep in a t-shirt and shorts, so maybe I do wear pjs to write in after all. At First Blush sounds like it will be a hit with its target audience with its incorporation of social media.

I almost ignore clothing descriptions in contemporary stuff, but when I wrote a historical novel, I spent more words on the subject.

Chrys Fey said...

I don't wear pajamas when I'm writing either. :p For historical, clothing descriptions are so important.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, sexy scenes need clothing...that can be taken off. ;)

Liz A. said...

What is my character wearing? Well, last I left her, she was at a concert with the nobles, so she was dressed to the nines. With no floaters (that's an explanation in itself).

Pat Hatt said...

Congrats Beth, awesome cover.

I rarely describe clothes too much, sometimes I do though when needed.

Sandra Cox said...

Congrats. Sounds like a fun read:)
Hi Chrys:)

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Beth Ellyn! Cute cover!
Great tips, Chrys! I don't put in a lot of clothing description unless the characters are wearing something unusual. Normally, my MCs wear the leather clothing you'd see in a fantasy adventure.

diedre Knight said...

Pajamas - ha! Only if I'm up extremely early trying to beat the family rush hour ;-) Good tips on career attires, especially those which include stethoscopes or gun holsters, aprons, etc. One of my young characters is wearing jeans and a work shirt for the first time in her life - and finds she loves it!
Of course, in Beth's new book the character is compelled to be fashionable due to both her career and her character make-up(no pun intended!) 'At First Blush' is sure to be a success - you rock, Beth! This is an interesting and truly clever way to help promote the debut of her novel, Chrys :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Dressed to the nines is fun!

Chrys Fey said...

That's good. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Hi, Sandra!

Chrys Fey said...

Leather outfits and characters is fun. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I don't wear pajamas while writing, but I imagine many do.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Since I have issues with depression, I get dressed every single day unless I'm really sick, in which case I might stay in my pj's. But I find I get an automatic boost of energy just by putting on clothes in the A.M. Having said that, it's usually sweatpants and a t-shirt, so I'm not exactly getting dressed up to write. Clothing can definitely say a lot about a person. One of my first sub jobs for a school district was to teach a class of troubled teens how to dress professionally for jobs. Had we taken a picture of them at the beginning of the class and at the end, it would have shown their personality arcs and what they learned. So the same could be done for a character. Did they start out schlubby and end wearing a suit? Great post, and congratulations to Beth! The story sounds good, and how fun that she interned with those guys.

Chrys Fey said...

I would stay in pajamas but then I don't feel productive. I have to get dressed to start my day right.

I can imagine the differences in those pictures. It would've been neat to see the before and after.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Um, my character in the book I'm editing at the moment wears shorts or jeans and T-shirts like other 14-year-olds.
I like to get dressed to start my day. Nothing fancy, just casual.
Great advice on describing clothing. And the cover is neat. I've seen it elsewhere. Very appealing.

Chrys Fey said...

That is the legendary outfit for fourteen-year-olds. :)

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Congratulations to Beth! I've seen her book a lot over the last few days. Looks and sounds awesome! I love dressing my characters, not always for the reader. Sometimes it's just for me. But I find attire an easy way for me to help express inner details about the character. (I wear comfy clothes to write-yoga pants, baggy sweatshirt from college, etc... Current MC is middle grade. She wears pleated miniskirts, suspenders (sometimes) striped tights, & her trusty combat boots.

Tammy Theriault said...

Beth's character has amazing shoe taste! The blurb sounds fantastic. So great to meet you and what a catchy cover!!

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I'm all about the bathrobe when I write. :)

I love the cover of Beth's book and the blurb is great. Good luck, Beth! Your book sounds like a lot of fun.

sage said...

Congratulations, Beth! You should be proud. As for my writing, I like to wear shorts and a t-shirt (or in a coffee shop: shorts, Hawaiian shirt and flip flops). In the winter, since moving down South, I wear the same, but when I lived up here (I am in Michigan right now), it was a sweatsuit and preferrably in front of a fire.

Unknown said...

thanks so much, Sage!

Unknown said...

thank you! :)

Unknown said...

thanks Tammy!! :)

Unknown said...

thank you so much ! :)

Unknown said...

thanks Beverly! :)

Unknown said...

thank you! :)

Unknown said...

aw thank you, Diedre! and I love seeing this on Chrys' post about fashion, totally apropos!

Unknown said...

thanks Lori! :)

Unknown said...

thank you! :)

Unknown said...

thanks, Pat! :)

Unknown said...

aw thank you!

Unknown said...

thanks so much, Lisa!

Unknown said...

thank you! and omg I was obsessed with Claudia Kishi--her clothes and how she hid candy all over her room, ha!

Unknown said...

thanks so much!

Unknown said...

thanks Christine!

Unknown said...

thanks Alex! :)

emaginette said...

I usually note when a character is wearing something that stands out like red shoes, or a shawl hanging on for dear life. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Chrys Fey said...

Combat boots and a pleated miniskirt. Nice. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

A bathrobe. Ha! I can see you now in your bathrobe at your laptop. :P

Chrys Fey said...

Comfy is the way to go when you're writing.

Chrys Fey said...

I notice those things, too. :)

Cherie Reich said...

What an adorable cover! Congrats, Beth! And I do like it when the writer says something about the clothes. Not every item needs to be mentioned, but a sentence here and there helps to set the story in a place and time.

Chrys Fey said...

A sentence here and there is all that a writer needs to do. :)

Mary Kirkland said...

I like it when we know what a character is wearing, what they look like ect. But I agree that it can be done in a couple of sentences. Omh I hate spammers. Sorry you had to deal with that.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I would like to spend an hour with a spammer. I know, that's weird. But I have this need to know what makes them tick. Congratulations, Beth. I'm seeing your cover everywhere. That is so kewl.

Romance Book Haven said...

Congratulations Beth! Your cover is eye-catching!

Chrys Fey said...

Spammers suck. This person was literally at it for 30 minutes or more. They started with this post and kept on going. I feared this person was going to keep going to my first post!

Chrys Fey said...

Your comment made me laugh, Joylene. :)

klahanie said...

Hey Chrys and Beth,

Oh yes indeed, I got bombarded with the spam comments because I subscribe to follow up comments on your blog. I should add that I've nothing to do with spam. Never accuse me of being a "Spam-I-Am"! I will admit that I have a fondness for green eggs and ham.

Oh my, I rambled. Where was I? Where am I? Oh yeah, great post! Thanks for sharing! Following!

Seriously, yes, seriously, awesome interview with Beth. That's a real neat cover.

Oh great, alert! Apparently, there's an MC in a WIP. WTF? LOL!

I'm going now. I appreciate the extra points I'm receiving for commenting at gone 2:30 A.M.

Goodnight and good morning from lil' ol' England....

Gary

Chrys Fey said...

Oh no. I wasn't aware what sort of notifications people get when they subscribe to comments. Gosh. This person was outrageous. They started with this newest post and kept going, probably aiming to leave their spam on all 400+ posts. I tried a few things to stop them and was trying to figure out how to block them. Finally I had to stop all comments on my blog.

Thanks for your funny comment. Now go to sleep! Zzzz

Sheena-kay Graham said...

My clothing as a full time writer is pretty simple. Not naked unless I'm stepping into the show. See? Thanks for those character clothing tips Chrys. Congrats Beth on your book. Youtube is a big deal these days. Also sorry Chrys about that annoying spammer.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Sheena. There's not much we can do about those spammers, is there? *sigh*