We can’t wait for the release of the second book in our Enchanted trilogy, Magic Ember! Hopefully you’re as excited as we are for the next installment of the series featuring magic and romance. If you haven’t picked up the first book Magic Spark yet, you can do so here.

To help with the wait, we are release a series of posts about the stories. Today Sara Dobie Bauer talks about dressing her characters.

Character Costumes: Why Clothes Matter

By Sara Dobie Bauer

There’s something about a man in a nice suit. Something like sex. Granted, I’ve always had a thing for fashion. When I was way younger, going through my goth phase, I expressed myself emotionally by wearing huge Kurt Cobain t-shirts and combat boots. In other words, not much has changed.

While prepping to write the Enchanted series, I started my character bios. If, as an author, you don’t write full character bios, I suggest you do. Important information can range from first kiss to favorite ice cream to phobias. Know your characters, and they’ll be more complex characters. But I digress …

A big part of my character bios for my three-part Enchanted series, “Destiny’s Dark Light,” had to do with clothes. What do clothes say about a person?

My light witch lead, Cyan Burroughs, for instance, wears an old leather jacket all the time. This says a lot about her without saying anything. It says she’s a bit of a tomboy. It says she’s a bit of a badass. It says she doesn’t necessarily obsess over current fashion trends because Cyan is too busy preparing for a big witch war to care. I never say any of this literally, but it can all be inferred.

See? The power of costume.

The romantic interest, Liam, is a successful sommelier and restaurant manager in Charleston, South Carolina: a very posh position. He wears expensive, tailored suits all the time—and yeah, he’s sexy as hell, but he also has good manners and is really smooth at charming people. Part of this has to do with his attire, because who’s going to feel weak in the knees around a guy in a torn, wrinkled, ill-fitting suit? Liam’s bespoke suits speak volumes.

I could tell you more. I could tell you Cyan’s potion-happy mother never wears shoes. Cyan’s psychic aunt wears too many bracelets. Cyan’s super strong daddy wears a Carhartt jacket every day. In each example, the choice directly reflects on character.

I’ve read authors who scrimp on costuming, and it makes it harder for me to picture the protagonist. I want to picture the protagonist. I want to picture the whole fictional world, so costuming is just as important as setting and dialogue and conflict. Each of these aspects of a novel is a piece of the puzzle, and if you forget one, the puzzle won’t fit together.

Next time you pick up a new book, pay attention to the clothes and guess what the author is trying to say. You’d be surprised; character costumes say a lot … if only you remember to pay attention.

Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is a member of RWA and author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody, among other ridiculously entertaining things.

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