Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Literary Haircut — Character Motivation

I’ve made the decision to simple my life up by getting a fairly drastic hair makeover. Yes, there is a countdown clock on the red locks seen at right. And sure, it’s just a hair cut, but after working for a long time to grow out my hair and taking ridiculously good care of it, it seems like a little something more than that. A person has to have a reason to cut really long hair, even if that reason is an impulse—which made me think about character motivation.

In fiction, a character with really long hair can’t cut her hair off without a motivation. In acting, if an actor wants to walk across the room, there has to be a character-based motivation. People don’t just walk across rooms in the middle of conversations without a reason. Maybe a shelf is showing off some dust in the mid-afternoon light. Maybe telepathic communication with the Mother Ship is better from there. Who knows? Or rather, you, the writer, have to know.

Why would your character get a drastic makeover? Did the guy of her dreams—who fawned over her hair—leave her for a less well-maned woman? Did she give birth to triplets and need a break from the work? Does she have back problems from working at a truck stop diner? Is she on the run from the law... or the mob... or political phone calls... or her mother-in-law? Is she being stalked and is trying to make herself more invisible? Is she starting to lose her hair from chemo and just wants to get it over with? Or does she just think she will be sassier with a trendy cut?

This is exactly what I love about fiction: there are so many different stories behind even the most mundane of life’s events. Next weekend, I’ll be posting my new look (I gave myself two weeks before D-Day to change my mind, but no wavering so far). Both in real life and in fiction, I’m ready for a new adventure. Cut the hair. Self-publish my book. Write more. Sounds like a wonderful 2012 to me.

Quote for the Day from a Chinese Prover

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”


Kathy said...

And you will look terrific!

Indigo said...

Can't wait to see the new you.

I cut mine into a short, short pixie 5 years ago. It's taken me 3 1/2 to grow it back out past my shoulders.

My daughter loved the short locks, I'm loving my long hair again.

Never hurts to change things up dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo

Liza said...

My hairdresser says, "Change your haircut, change your life." I've changed mine (slightly) and things seem to be going great! Good luck!