Into the Action: Dressing To Impress And Hopefully Not Die!

Today’s writing article will be a brief one.  No, not because I’m too busy (though I am) but because this topic is so common-sense and so straight forward that there is really little room to say anything other than the point itself.  So, what action-related topic is up for grabs today?  Well, I’m glad you asked!

Today, we are looking at costuming vs. action.  I use the word ‘costuming’ but I mean, of course, whatever your characters are wearing in an action scene.  Though often related to the characters themselves, it is still, essentially, ‘costuming’ as you, the author, have final control over it.  However you want to look at it, what a character is wearing in an action scene can greatly alter the course of said action scene.

All it takes is a little forethought and common sense to understand how this can be important.  High-heel shoes are horrible for movement and any kind of fighting.  Baggy clothes may be easy to move in, but also present loose folds that can be grabbed or manipulated.  Armor can have any manner of effects beyond raw protection: light armor is easier to move in but far less durable, heavier armors might be more protective but can be heavy and fatiguing to wear.  Powered armor, like Iron Man, may be amazingly powerful but subject to energy concerns, bulkiness when unpowered, and vulnerabilities to anything that disrupts electronics.  Masks can protect one’s identity or have built-in protective lenses but, depending on how they are worn and attached, can ruin peripheral vision and be easily manipulated to obscure vision further.  Let’s not even start to talk about capes!

The point is that these are all possible factors you should consider in an action scene when describing your characters’ clothing.  Not only can it provide all manner of hooks and sequences you can add to spice up your action but it can speak volumes about a character and their familiarity with a situation.  An ex-military woman who has come to expect trouble around every corner won’t be wearing a tight dress and high-heels unless it’s a special occasion, for example.  A laborer who is caught in a firefight will probably still be able to be physical, as he will be in sturdy work clothes designed for movement.  A fantasy knight will be clad in head-to-foot armor when expecting trouble and probably still be in tough leathers or a mail coat in other situations, regardless of gender.

So, remember, the clothes do sometimes make the man.  Remember to tailor your characters’ wardrobes to them and the situation and never forget how you can use what they do wear to add new twists to an action scene.

Until next time, good luck and good writing!