Some of you might know what a silent valet is. If you don’t, it’s basically a special stand, designed to hold a suit of clothing, ready for you to put on. They usually have a special tray and hooks, too, for your wallet, watch, pocket-knife, belt, and anything else you carry on a regular basis. Most of them look something like this –
Now, you’re probably wondering “Uh, Michael…. what does a piece of clothing furniture have to do with writing?” Good question.
Well, aside from the fact that I like to be a well-dressed author well and owning a silent valet makes that easier, this nifty piece of equipment can help you with your story. Yeah, I know, it’s hard to believe. Just trust me for a minute, please?
If you’re a writer, of fiction, that is, you have characters. They’re probably completely fictional characters (unless you’re basing them on someone real, which might be setting you up for a lawsuit, btw) and fictional characters require… well, character. Boring characters make for a boring stories and nobody but a boring person wants to read a boring story.
Sorry about the repetition of the word “boring”. I just couldn’t help myself. It’s boring. Sorry, won’t (boring) happen again.
Okay, once you realize you don’t want to have uninter(boring)esting characters, that’s when you have to figure out what to do about it. Well, here’s where the ‘silent valet’ can help. Imagine one, or buy one, if you’ve got that kind of mo(boring)ney to spend on your writing, and start putting clothes on it.
Each outfit you build represents a character in your story. Yes, it sounds cliche, but clothes really do make the man here. The clothes your character puts on his (or her) silent valet can help you define him. Tough guy? He doesn’t need a leather jacket and army boots. Put expensive suit, an expensive watch, and a pair of gold-plated brass-knuckles on his silent valet. Nerd-trying-to-play-bad-boy? Drape a leather jacket over that clothes-stand, but put a pocket calculator on the accessories tray.
That silent valet holds all the important things the character has. People wear clothing that they feel comfortable in, that they think is their “style”. The accessory tray holds the things they keep close at all times; it might be a watch, wallet, locket, weapon, a money clip, keys, a thumb-drive. The shoes on the bottom rack (or next to it) can tell you about the character’s job. Are the clothes clean, or stained? Are they rumpled, or are they neatly ironed. Are they garish, expensive, knockoffs, hand-me-downs, or functional? Do they belong to this person you’ve created, or did some perfect stranger pick out the wardrobe?
Each item you put on each character’s silent valet will help you create, define, and express him.