Jewelry takes people’s minds off your wrinkles. ~Sonia Henie
I loved this quote…until my husband of thirty years gave me a beautiful black onyx ring. He thinks the gift says “I love you.” I think he sprung for the bling because my hands are beginning to look like my mother’s. Either way, I love wearing his gift because folks tend to focus on the eye-catching stone rather than my increasingly crêpe skin.
If accessories lend a point of focus, isn’t it dangerous to give them to our characters? Quite the opposite. Just like a guitar in the hands of a gifted musician can make beautiful music, the perfect accessory can give a character stage business or movement. And remember, savvy writers want their characters to move in the mind of their readers. Body language gives a character 55% more life.
The first time I saw Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, I was transfixed on her black umbrella with its parrot-head handle. This unorthodox means of transportation defined the unorthodox nanny. Something was different about this character, and I understood that the moment she floated into view. Mary’s posture, stiff and straight, seemed pulled into line by the force of the East wind lifting the umbrella, yet once she hit the ground, she was fun and very willing to offer the needed love and protection to her charges. A simple, unique accessory created an interesting and curious contradiction of whimsy and discipline for what could have been an otherwise boring babysitter.
On the TV medical drama House, the protagonist, Dr. Gregory House, sports a cane. This is an unusual accessory for a doctor. Why not a pager or a cell phone he couldn’t live without? Or the trademark stethoscope draped around his neck? House has a cane because someone thought beyond the white coat of a doctor’s costume and used an unusual accessory to give this maverick medical genius a flaw. This character’s total disregard for rules and authority would get old and hard to take if he constantly charged through life, but the cane slows Hugh Lurie’s body movements down. As House limps from examining room to deliberation room, the camera zooms in on that extra expenditure of effort. Why? Because without a word of dialogue, those labored movements add another layer to this character. Tough as our hero tries to be, his thorn in the flesh gives him pain, making every day a struggle…a characterization all of us can buy and understand.
Yikes, once again I didn’t get to earrings. Guess you’ll have to tune in next week. Accessories are too important to rush through. Hope your week has bling!