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Utilizing Period Costume in your Narrative…

November 3, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Grungy – definition: 1. ugly, run-down, or dilapidated; 2. dirty or filthy

Fashion through out the ages has seen some really bizarre trends. As young people we imagined ourselves as trend setters and the ‘older’ generation as boring in their fashion sense. However, as we become older and watch the younger generation wear styles that we would never be seen dead on – we are reminded of our own outfits. Some of these make a reappearance and we laugh at the ‘new’ styles, knowing only too well – been there, done that.

GrungyWe all rebel against the ‘establishment’ when we are young. Fashion is just one of the more interesting devices to do so.

What era is your favorite for style? 

See this excellent link:

http://jezebel.com/5688362/dress-code-know-your-era

A knowledge of style and fashion is also important when we are writing about a certain era. Pop socks would not be suitable in a 1940’s office setting or a deer-stalker in a futuristic world. Garments can be a good indicator of the time period without having to write long exposition.

In my re-incarnation romance, The Twesome Loop, I worked between two eras, 2000 and 1875. Clothing became a part of the narrative to show when the period had changed but also when the two merged.

Have you utilized costumes or fashion in your stories?

1875-June-Plate-sm

A Rip-Roaring Time..?

August 6, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Rip-roaring – definition: boisterously wild and exciting

The first thing that came to my mind was the twenties, with the outrageous indulgences of the wealthy. The strangest thing, was the fashion of wearing dresses with no shape to them but masses of long necklaces and fringes. It was as though every female became androgynous with their shape and relied on adornments to feminize themselves.

roaring_twenties1

The most identifiable movie for this period is, of course, The Great Gatsby. I have watched the original but as yet not the newer version. When we compare the two main characters, there is a resemblance between each movie. Have you seen the newer version – what were your thoughts?

The Great Gatsby

Leonardo di Caprio and Carey Mullligan in a still from The Great Gatsby

In reality the 1920’s were a time of change in America. “The Roaring Twenties”  impacted the economy, social standards and everyday life. Industry production of consumer goods was up 60% thus affecting American families, with higher wages and shorter working hours. However, the down side was adversity and opposition against immigrants and farmers. Immigrants were not treated fairly by Americans, depending on where they came from and what they believed, making finding employment difficult. Because the price of food kept reducing, farmers were paid very little. Added to that was the worry of the Dust Bowl, making a two tier system.

When researching periods for our projects these type of details are vital, enabling us to reflect the time period correctly.

Have you written about a particular period?

Visual Reminders of Days Gone Past…

March 11, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Today’s word – Gingham – definition: a cotton clothing fabric in plain weave.

images

All I could see when I read this word was gathered gingham fabric across the kitchen sink window…isn’t that evidence of how strong images are? My next image was of my infant (elementary) school uniform, which was green and white gingham summer dresses or grey skirts and bottle green sweatshirt’s for winter.

So is gingham coming back into fashion now? I found a site, which has gentleman’s shirts in gingham – no more little girl’s with pigtails? I also found out that gingham is typically a colour and white not multi coloured like plaid. Once I starting delving into the history of gingham I found out it was first produced in 17th century England and the fabric shipped to the colonies. However, the original fabric was striped and only gradually became checkered. The most popular colour combination was blue and white. As for the actual name there are numerous possibilities to its origin. Ging-gang is Italian, genggang is Malaysian and Indonesia – take your pick. Whichever it is they all mean striped.

This fascinating post is worth reading – if you so wish. Lots of stuff I didn’t know about gingham. http://visforvintage.net/2012/09/11/gingham-fabric/

After reading all this it occurred to me that my image of gingham may not necessarily be true for everyone. I have it firmly set in the 1950’s but with the re-emergence of the fabric in later decades in other guises, it is quite possible that a younger reader would picture it entirely differently. So that makes for an interesting predicament, depending on the age of your readers and or the era you are portraying can significantly alter how the use of articles or items can influence your readers perception of where in time your characters are.

A point to consider and research when using iconic items, articles or music for that matter. All of them can evoke a different response in your reader.

nanowrimo (1)

Now Here’s A Challenge…

February 18, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Chitterlings – definition: 1) a ruffled frill on the front of a shirt. 2) a food dish made from port intestines: also, chitlins

db_WHITE_FRILLY_SHIRT2

I’m setting a challenge today…if you so choose to participate. Use both definitions in the same short story or poem! I’ve pondered for a while and this is the result.

Dressed in ruffled frill

Ebony jacket and trousers

Paired with shiny shoes

A dashing image made

**

A classy restaurant

Candle-lit and romantic

First date, first impressions

Nervously waiting

**

Her shapely figure before him

A friendly smile

And chased kiss upon his cheek

Candle flicker

**

Menu’s pondered

Surprise at her choice

Chitterlings

Agreement to taste

**

Plates served

 Perfectly presented cuisine

Small bite tasted

Unexpectedly good

**

Her gentle laughter

And statement of soul food

Calmed his nerves

A great first date

Chitlins in broth.

Chitlins in broth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Write…

September 8, 2010
mandyevebarnett


I have found many words of wisdom regarding the process and skill of writing, whilst searching the internet. The one ‘constant’ bizarrely is the variety of views and thoughts, which come from author’s blogs. Each individual’s experience of writing is as unique as they are and that is what makes this writing life so special. No matter what you write, it is your own originality that makes it distinctive. A case in point is the variety of responses we receive from Saturday prompts posted on the WFSC web site. Even with a common starting point, no two pieces are alike, making the reading even more enjoyable.

For example one prompt was – You see a lone shoe beside the road. Tell its story. My response was a piece I called – Phenomenal Shoe

scarpasa boot

  Whilst driving homeward one evening I spy a shoe lying beside the road. Where had it come from? Who did it belong to? How did it get there? These thoughts run through my mind as I near home but are soon forgotten once the evening meal preparations occupy me.

It is not until the following evening that I again glimpse the shoe. Appearing and disappearing in the brief gap my wipers allow me through a veil of water on my windscreen. Why do I worry so about an abandoned shoe? It seems to pull me toward it. Before rational thought can take over, I pull my car to the kerb.  I brave the rain and pick up what is an extraordinary looking shoe.  Placing it in the foot well, it gradually oozes water, making a small puddle. I continue my journey home.

“Hey Mum, we’ve got a power cut. Dad said we are going out for supper.”

My son’s declaration distracts me. The shoe is forgotten in the bustle of our departure.

“Put your seat belt on, Timothy.  Joy put your glasses on – how many times do I have to tell you?”

Hours later, my two young ones tucked up in bed and my husband snoring gently in front of the television, I remember the shoe.  I find it partially dried out awaiting rescue. How can this innate object hold my attention?  Its pale grey layered vamp and the highly unusual heel make it a thing of beauty – it is obviously a very expensive designer shoe – where could its partner be? Why was it discarded? As I turn it this way and that, admiring the delicately layered cloth, the fascinating heel, a sensation of familiarity flows through me. This is my shoe – lost long ago. What is this – a déjà vu moment?

Settling the shoe on my bedside table – as a sort of talisman – I drift off to sleep. My dreams are of a rich dazzling life, enjoying expensive restaurants, fancy hotels and exquisite clothes. Even the silk sheets underneath me feel real as I turn over to see voile billowing into a perfectly white room. This is not my bedroom, am I still dreaming?

“Darling, are you awake? I’ve brought you breakfast.”

I turn to see an incredibly handsome man walking into the room. He is carrying a laden tray complete with a red rose.
“Where am I? How did I get here?”

“You are home, my love.  I thought I had lost you after the accident but now the doctor has let you come home. He thinks being in familiar surroundings will help your memory.”

“But I’m married with children – this isn’t home.”

“The doctor told me you may have false memories from your time in the coma but they will fade, darling. Truly you are home now.”
I turn toward the bedside table, there lies the shoe.

“Is this my shoe?” I’m sorry, who are you?”

“I’m Dominic. My darling, I’m your husband. Do you know your name? Is anything familiar?”

“My name is…..? I don’t know! I must be dreaming. I have to get back to my children.”

“We don’t have children Francesca. You said they would tie us down, hamper our travels, our life style.”

“Francesca? I do have children – Timothy and Joy they……. I am so confused. Is this one of my shoes?”

“I think it is – let me look for you. Here in the bag the hospital sent home with you. How did you manage get its partner?”

“I found it beside the road, abandoned. It seemed to call to me – isn’t that strange?”

“No, I think your mind was trying to bring you back to me, my love. But how could you have picked it up from the roadside when you were lying in a coma? That is the strange part.”

As I look at the pair of shoes, one pristine and the other water marked and grubby, a feeling of recognition fills me – now I know who I am. Francesca Mendez, heiress to a hotel empire. I live a life of luxury but deep down I have a yearning – a yearning for children.  I will take advantage of my second chance – have those children that are waiting within me. I hold out my hand to Dominic and pull him toward me.

“However strange it may be, this shoe has brought me back to you and given us the chance to change our lives. Will you make a baby with me, Dominic?”

“My darling I have wanted children but you were so opposed to the idea. Are you sure?”

“I am very sure Dominic.”

Our lust consumes us, the shoes forgotten for the moment.

Epilogue:  Years later, when my children are older I show them the special shoes. They are encased in a specially made glass case, in pride of place in my boudoir. Sitting Timothy and Joy beside me on a soft couch, I relay the story of the shoes and how, without them, life would have been very different.

 

Why don’t you try writing a piece with this prompt? See where you thought process’ take you and then post it here. We can compare and comment. Have fun – that is what writing is all about after all.

 

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