Tagged with "fictional characters"
Hair, it's our Crowning Glory Tags: creative writing hair fictional characters human hair trade Emma Tarlo hair in fiction


At least that’s what women are led to believe from an early age and the beauty industry is more than happy to divest us of our money in pursuit of that ideal. I’ve been thinking about fictional characters’ hair a lot recently. In films and novels Caucasian women often have character-defining hair. Black; witchy and duplicitous, red; fiery and vivacious; blonde; angelic or tarty, brown; plain and intelligent, grey/white; wise and intellectual, curly; unpredictable and bubbly, straight; cool and calculating. This left me with a dilemma because I was struggling to choose the hair colour and type of my young, female protagonist, but I didn’t want to push her into any of those stereotypes.



In a Tangle

So I began to tackle the problem in a circuitous way and by happy accident discovered the fascinating, non-fiction book, Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair by Emma Tarlo. Now, like you, I knew that both men and women can need wigs for a variety of medical, cosmetic or religious reasons but I had no idea of the global, largely covert, billion-dollar trade in the procurement and processing of human hair into wigs and extensions. Sourcing hair generally starts in third world countries. Some women sell their hair to barbers for a short-lived respite from poverty in China, India, Myanmar and Pakistan. On the other side of the world, relatively wealthy women choose to boost their income by selling their hair directly to the client via the Buy and Sell Hair website. The reasons for sale are as various as the hair types on offer. Hindus have their hair tonsured in Indian temples as a way of showing thanks, or to seek rebirth; indeed the vast temple of Tirumala acts as a magnet for pilgrims drawing people and hair from all over India. Each year the tonsured hair adds around 20 million pounds to the temple’s coffers.


Giveaway Hair

Sometimes, hair donation is purely altruistic as in the recent case of the Duchess of Cambridge donating seven inches of her locks to the Little Princesses Trust for children and young adults who have lost their hair through cancer treatment. How bizarre to think that a sick child somewhere will be wearing our future Queen consort’s hair. Truly a crowning glory! The hair is sorted anonymously so no one will ever know that their wig contains Kate’s tresses.


Decisions, Decisions

While all these hair stories make fascinating reading, it isn’t taking me nearer a solution in my writing dilemma! What it does show me though is how important this decision is and how much identity and status are invested in luscious locks or lack thereof. Would Dennis the Menace be as naughty without his black, unruly mop? Could Heathcliff have been blonde? Could Pippi Longstocking have had mousey-coloured hair? Would Bond villain, Blofeld, have been as menacing if he weren’t bald? How do you decide your characters’ hair colour and type? Can you think of fictional characters defined by their hair? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Game of Names Tags: names for fictional characters


Sunnyseas Father o' Peace Aksel


The Game of Names


As writers, aren’t we the lucky ones?


Most people get few opportunities to choose names on a daily basis. Oh yes, there is the critical search for names for a new baby, or for horses, puppies and kittens, (yes, I’ll grant you, cows have names too.) Or maybe a name for the home or boat. But that’s probably about it. 


We writers (yes, I hear you - visual artists too) have the luxury of choosing names constantly.  Picking a name for a character, while being so much fun, can be critical if we want that name to really work hard for us.


In last week’s Monday Muse I rattled off a quickie without thinking (or without conscious thought as we poets would say.) And in my unthinking/unconscious mode I made a big oospie when naming my two main characters Miranda and Martha - beginning and ending with the same letter - while this can happen in life - it can be confusing for readers (I am reminded by Alyson - thank you so much), especially for readers of short and flash fiction.


The name can, if we let it, show much more, e.g. dogs called Peggotty and Pip belong to a character who is a lover of Dickens maybe.  A dwelling called Rolling Stone indicates the fictional resident’s love of Mick’s lips and hips etc. And if you need a boat name for your fatalist, African Queen might work well if you don’t fancy Titanic II.


Other weird stuff also comes into play, for instance, our little dog Aksel (that’s his mugshot above by the way) was conceived on Norway Day, May 17th. So logically (our logic anyway) we named him after a champion Norwegian downhill skier. He was born in July so we could have also easily, and quite appropriately, named him Leo.


I often scan the obituaries and births columns in the local paper if I am in need of naming inspiration. This week’s little goldmine yielded this unique chap:  Jerrice Jeremiah Leeander (yes that’s the spelling) known as ‘Boobie, Big Bou’.  I have no idea who this lovely fellow might have been, but what does it all say about his parents and later, his friends?


This week’s births announcements gave me these three babes: Laken, Paxton and Kallista. Exotica rules these day, it seems.


Dickens and Shakespeare were masters at it, weren’t they? Uriah Heep, Ebenezer Scrooge, and the onomatopoeic  Mr. Bumble couldn’t be more perfect for those characters.  And can you imagine Sir Toby Belch or Shylock by any other names? Like Billy Campbell, or Teddy Williams? No - I didn’t think so. 


And that’s the serious game of names we play each time we plot our tale and pick our people. Names can make or break a story.


Afterthought - throwing these two in for good measure and a smile:


1. There was a boat, anchored a little further down the coast from here. Owned by a sweet naive fellow. The name of the boat - Wet Dream. Painted in beautiful lettering along the bow. I kid you not. (sorry, I never did get a photo) (and sorry again, WA members, of course I’ve already made use of this one. in a short poignant humour piece.)


2. My mother knew a couple who were the epitome of innocence. Lovely gentle people. Their names were Harry and Lottie. They named their house (as couple often did in those days) by combining their names. Yes, you’ve got it. Their lovely home had the swinging sign ‘Harlot’ by the front gate for years.


Boats with names - Lower West Pubnico - home of the largest fishing fleet in

Atlantic Canada


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Big Book of New Short Horror
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