Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Character's Hair: More than a style on the head

When I see someone for the first time I notice their hair. The color, style, length, whether it's pulled back in a tight bun, loose and flowing, braided down the middle or side, growing in tight dreadlocks, or cut short and spiked. 

Hairstyles are linked to culture, land and history. So when you are developing your characters take hair style into account.

Throughout history the way women styled their hair, the texture, sleekness and shine or lack there of, has been under scrutiny. 

There have been many jokes about a lack of intelligence for those with blond hair. People with red hair have been thought to be less hardy. Those with thick black, shiny hair are said to be healthy. Spiked short hair has been seen as hip, maybe even dangerous. Those with stripes of color in their hair are sometimes thought of as fun or punk rock-ish depending on who's judging.

People judge hairstyles in every culture. Think about how your readers will judge your character based on their hairstyle alone. If you want them to think your character is of the grunge culture, maybe give them dreadlocks. If you want a real housewife, she needs to have long, shiny, perfectly combed hair. 

Hair means different things to different cultures. Be sure to research your characters background when choosing a hairstyle. 

You should also think about the psychology of hair and your character. Your character may be a female with not much control in her life, so she cuts and dyes her hair many times a month. She has control over her hair.

Your character might be stuck in a job where he has to wear a suit and must keep his hair short and neat, but desires to let it grow long. How does this affect his mind? His actions?

Why doesn't everyone do whatever they want with their hair? Why not dye it purple? Cut it at a fun angle? Let it grow to the ground or shave it off completely? Allow it to go grey? Think about these questions when you are describing your characters. 

I grew up with very long, almost white blond hair. I often was the butt of dumb blond jokes. That has molded the way I feel about my hair and about other blonds. 

When I started college I decided that I did not want to be seen as a joke. I wanted to be taken seriously, so I cut my hair short, and had low lights added so it was less blond. It worked.
Hair reveals secrets. You can guess a person's character by checking out their hair. But hair can also hide secrets. It may be a shield a person is using to not reveal themselves. 

Hair can be a clue as to where a person lives, their status, and their culture. I grew up on a small blueberry farm where hair didn't matter. My mom cut my hair and she rarely had a professional cut hers. My dad's hair was blond and often overgrown. It didn't matter. But when I moved to LA, hair was taken more seriously. There were stylists on every block and everyones' hair shined and every hair was in place. If you took a picture of the me at the farm and the me in LA you could tell by my hair which picture was done in which place.

So don't just throw hair on top of your character's heads. Hair is something to think about. Hair reveals rootedness, ties to culture, land and history and much more. Use it to your advantage and your characters will be more memorable. 


No comments:

Post a Comment