Friday, July 11, 2008

Look out! It's the FASHION POLICE!!!!

Yep. Slap the fuzzy pink cuffs on the author who just made her heroine look like a blooming idiot. Call the fashion police! Lock em up in solitary with a television and current copies of Vogue and Architechtural digest, please.

As a writer I know people have different tastes in things and I can be somewhat forgiving about hairstyles that I personally think are DUMB or shoes that are oh-so-yesterday, but do it a lot and you'll lose me. Yes. I'll shut the book and never buy your work again. Because I'm a snob? No, I don't think so. I just believe that an author owes her readers a little research and effort. That's all. I don't want the beautiful to-die-for gorgeous heroine wearing her hair like Farrah Fawcett from the 1970's. I don't want her wearing crocheted vests or sensible skirts of polyester blend. BLEH! We want our heroines wearing something young and hip...no dowdy duds please.

Same with the guys. Nothing is worse than reading about a CEO hero who is a multi-bazillionaire and he's wearing something completely goofy. Does that bug you guys? Ah, man. It's my biggest pet peeve EVER. So writers? If you live in a cave (as I confess I DO) please come out of your hidey-hole long enough to look at the television a bit. Pick up a current fashion mag or, for heaven's sake, call up a fashionable friend for advice.

I think I might have mentioned this before but there is an author of paranormal work that I just LOVE but she has no clue...NONE about how to dress her characters. They seem to almost have stepped out of a comic book. I love her stories. She's a fabulous writer with a huge fan base but DAMN! I continued to buy her work despite this little "fashion problem" and just kind of re-dressed everyone in my mind. It's a tiring thing, let me tell ya. Finally, her books were so full of sex sans plot that the heroine and male characters were pretty much naked all the time so that worked for me.

Nothing tells me the age of a writer more than the way she dresses her characters. Now, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of writers "of a certain age" who've got it all going on. They don't miss a trick with fashion, decorating or ANYTHING but others? Well, when we read about frumpy styles we know two things. One: she probably wore those things herself when she was in her 20's and 30's and TWO: we've just figured out she doesn't believe in research.

Sorry if this sounds harsh but nothing takes me out of a story faster than permed hair, shag carpet, or rollers in hair that is slathered with Dippity Do. Need I say more?

So is it just me? Does this bug the hell out of anyone else? If not, what DOES bother you when you're reading a story? Is it the wimpy heroine who cries at the drop of a hat (and does this throughout the entire book)? Is it the wicked, evil mother? Aren't mothers NICE any more? Or is it the fact there is a severe shortage of female characters who are actually friends? Yep. That bothers me lots since I like to think of women as supportive and caring about each other and not evil, vindictive, bitches.

Okay. I've let it all out. I feel MUCH better now. How about you? Wanna vent? What ticks you off the most? Tell Mother Regina your troubles. Confession is good for the soul.

33 comments:

Anne Rainey said...

Okay, want to know something funny? I actually stopped reading an author because of this very thing. I can't name names, but she's VERY WELL known! The thing that annoyed the crap out'a me was that all her heroines looked EXACTLY alike!!! And they all looked like her! I got so tired of the mousy brown hair and librarian clothes that I X'd her off my auto-buy list and never looked back.

Generally speaking this is not a big deal for me. I think most writers have it figured out that if you aren't up with the latest and greatest, a nice pair of jeans and a t-shirt works out pretty well. But stick her in a damn frumpy brown wool skirt and glasses every time and I'm gonna want to throw the book across the room! LOL

Regina Carlysle said...

Honestly, this kind of stuff drives me NUTS. I like to vary things a bit with my heroines. These days I've been writing a lot of blondes but mainly my daughter (a blonde...like ME) noticed the lack of them in the books she was reading. Everyone seemed to be on a brunette/redhead thing. So I promised her I would write a string of blonde heroines...just for HER. lol. Lately I've thrown a brunette into the mix which was a good change of pace.

Deb said...

LOL, I remember a book I was reviewing and asked myself ,"What was this author thinkging dressing her in that."
Of course I truly get engrossed into to my books that I feel like I could bitch slap some of the Characters I read.

lainey bancroft said...

I'll go ya one further: Unless fashion description SHOWS something about the heroine or the heroes response to her, I think it has no place in a book anyway!

Regardless of how fashionable the character is, I despise three page descriptions from the roots of highlighted hair on down to Versache gowns, Victoria's Secret thongs and Prada sling backs. Snore!

Anny Cook said...

I seldom notice fashion unless they go on and on and on and on about it. In my stories, all the clothing is "made up" and very simple. So once you describe a zipsuit, then that's it... maybe mention the color. Or the sharda color. Not much variation.

What bugs me is the waffler. The whiny waffler that spends and entire book moaning and groaning about whether she should trust the hero... all while she's boinking his brains out. Hello?

MaryF said...

So glad you asked ;) Yes, fashion bothers me, but last night I was reading a new book by a famous author and set it down because the hero told the heroine his name was Ford because he was conceived in a Ford Cutlass.

Um, his name would be OLDSMOBILE, not Ford.

In the past I put a book aside because the writer talked about the band the BEETLES. Argh! Both of these mistakes got through 3 people, at least, right?

Regina Carlysle said...

OMG, Mary!!! I'd put the damn book down too. Ummm RESEARCH???? What awful mistakes to get by all those people.

Regina Carlysle said...

You're lucky, Anny. With the worldbuilding you've done, you just don't have to mess with the clothing that much. We already KNOW what they'll be wearing. Less confusion that way.

Regina Carlysle said...

I honestly like a little bit of a view as to what the character might be wearing but page after page of description from hair to the color of toenail polish is a real yawner. And whiny heroines? Uh YUP. Most women are tougher than that. Smarter and more level headed.

Anne Rainey said...

maryf--well, it depends. If this was a NY Publisher, then the mistakes were missed by: the author, the agent, the editor, the final line editor, and often times a crit partner or beta reader...lol

yikes.

MaryF said...

The BEETLES book was a Harlequin Intrigue and the Ford Cutlass was Putnam, I think. Hardcover.

I get annoyed with all the labels, too. I was listening to an HQN novel and was BOMBARDED with namebrands. I. Don't. Care.

MaryF said...
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Anne Rainey said...

I'm trying to write, but you guys keep distracting me. LOL

I'll tell you all a little secret about labels. I don't know HALF of them!!! I skip right on past it every time. BWW, Armani, those I get, and it does sort of set the stage for a rich guy with class. Beyond that I'm just confused.

Just say he's wearing black slacks, for crying out loud. That I can visualize! Or faded work-worn jeans, even better. Better still, nothing at all...yeah, now THAT I can imagine...LOL

Regina Carlysle said...

A few name brands are okay but shouldn't be made a big deal...at ALL. A roll call of designer names is just dumb!

Regina Carlysle said...

Ah man. I hear you Anne. Most of my heroes are southern men and few are RICH. Worn faded jeans and tee's are my favorite.

Tonya said...

I enjoy good fashion in books. However, it makes me laugh when a character is wearing white pants or white tee shirt and colored undergarments....then it's not mentioned as a fashion snafoo. I'm waiting for it to be mentioned again...and it breaks my concentration...LOL!!!

I often find myself irritated if a book has major flaws....like maryf stated. I get invested in the characters, I'm taking my precious time to escape I want perfection in descriptions. Don't get me wrong....I applaud you all for getting these characters out there, weaving the story and really enjoy all the escapism you provide but those little flaws stand out to me like a sore thumb.

Kelley Nyrae said...

I'm with Anne, I know nothing about all the names. I've heard some yeah, but I don't know the difference and I don't care. I'm not the type who even if I could would spend thousands on a freakin purse. Not my thing. I don't knock people who do but like I said it just isn't my thing.

I mention some brands but only if my character calls for it. If she's the fasion type and then I'm asking people what to use, lol. Otherwise I give a little description like, a pair of tight black jeans and a red top or whatever then I move on.

cindy said...

Hey Regina, the way they dress is not really a big deal to me for the most part, but what does drive me crazy, is how some writers stop in the middle of something, be it sex or whatever,it's like o k use your imagination for the rest of this part. If I wanted to use my imagination I'd write my on books,instead of buying there's.
great topic, thanks,Cindy

MaryF said...

Karma's going to get me - someone will find something in my writing, I'm sure. But I was just reading a Special Edition (by the pool, didn't want to tote the hardcover out there) and the author mentioned PEEKABOO Street. Um, it's Picabo. She's named after "shining waters" not a baby game.

Maybe I just have too much useless knowledge???

MaryF said...
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Molly Daniels said...

What especially drives me nuts in some books is the total misunderstandings they have, but they don't TALK to each other until the end. I'm wanting to jump inside the book and tie them together or lock them in a room to just get over themselves already!

Fashion-wise, I too don't get all the label dropping. Just mention colors and general discription, and I'm okay with it. I've noticed I tend to skim that part anyway, to get to the dialogue.

Kris Eton said...

Well, I'm a definite fashion idiot, so I don't care what the characters are wearing, as long as authors don't use decades old terms like "pantsuit" or "slacks" for anything a woman might be wearing. Ick.

I am a person who in real life couldn't care less about what people wear in books or on the street. I don't like handbags or cute shoes. I like wearing comfortable clothes and slip on shoes like Birkenstocks or clogs. Make up in a rare thing and I don't even bother really styling my hair anymore. I'm all about 'wash and wear.'

Personally, I don't do a hell of a lot of description of my characters. I like to leave most of it to the reader's imagination.

Cassandra Gold said...

I don't care what characters are wearing. I'm not into fashion myself, so saying someone's wearing an Armani suit or Prada heels doesn't do a whole lot for me, especially if the author goes on and on about the character's fancy clothes. That said, I'm the least visual person I know, so if a character isn't well-described I can't picture them. AT ALL, I mean. It's kind of frustrating.

To me, the most annoying things are characters that are too stupid to live, and characters who are inconsistent. No amount of stylish clothing can cover up a character that's empty and one-dimensional.

Anne Rainey said...

Molly--LOL! I totally skim that part too!

Katie Reus said...

The inappropriate clothing thing really annoys me! If she has no clue about fashion and she dresses that way but it fits her character, then that totally works. I just hate it when a supposedly hip heroine dresses like my mother. It pulls me out of the story :)

My other pet peeves are: When the author doesn't do their research on weapons (namely guns). And, I also don't like it when the hero spends half the book f***ing another woman who isn't the heroine. Books like that should be labeled chick lit, not romance.

Regina Carlysle said...

Wow...I step out for an hour and the place is jumping. Lots of great PEEVES. I love it. Gives us writers something to think about too, doesn't it?

It's not so much the "Designer NAme Dropping" as the "my heroine lives in the 70's" deal that bothers me so much. I don't care if she's wearing Versace or carrying a prada bag...I just don't want to see her wearing rollers to bed or dressing like a total frump.

Nan J said...

Speaking as a lifelong, walking illustration of Frump who wouldn't know (or care about) Armani from Gap, and who could be swindled with a cubic zirconia for a diamond, I must nonetheless say: anything that gives away the age of an author (other than the back cover blurb)(yeah right) on a contemporary-set novel of *any* type... bugs me. But if the story telling is awesome, and the anachronisms aren't in your face and constant... then I put away the bug zapper and go along for the ride. :)

Regina Carlysle said...

Very well said, Nan!

Anita Birt said...

What a delicious rant. I cowered in my corner wondering how I had dressed my heroines in my contemporary books. As I cast my wretched brain back in time, I think I did okay. No frumps. No rollers. (I have short straight hair so no heroine of mine ever has rollers) Oh yes, they wore shorts and Tees when appropriate. No lace up boots. Whew, I hope I passed muster.

I enjoyed the rant.

Regina Carlysle said...

Bet you did fine, Anita. I just think it's usually safe to do tee's and jeans. Of course, depends on what the heroine is DOING..lol. A quick talk with my teen or a look at the tv usually helps me a lot.

Kelly Kirch said...

I'm fashion challenged so I rarely refer to specific trends in my work. I also don't want the book to be dated ten years from now when someone picks it up. So I generally go with shirt, jeans and non-specific references to how they are worn or what is revealed in the wearing of them.

Celia Yeary said...

A LITTLE LATE, HERE, but this is my comment. I'm doing research for a fifties thing, and learned that--oh, okay, I already knew this--that Debbie Reynolds wore flip-flops and "pedal pushers" known today as capris or crop pants--all the same thing. So, if you get stuck, girls, just dress your heroine in those and you'll be fine. Celia

Regina Carlysle said...

capris are nice and safe since they've been around for awhile. I try to stick with the standard jeans, tees...that sort of thing. Just seems to make easier and there's less possibility of the book being dated ten years down the road.