HAIR! Hair is often among the first descriptors. Second only to tall or short, in physical descriptions of a character. This is true in the realm of people as well MONSTERS. The hairy beast, the hairless alien and everything in-between, inhabit all varieties of genre fiction.
I always laugh at this line from Warren Zevon’s fabulous song WEREWOLF OF LONDON: I saw a werewolf drinkin’ a pina colada at Trader Vic’s, his hair was perfect. It paints a vivid picture of a creature who is both a “hairy gent” and beast with a scary appetite for more than Chinese food in SoHo.
Flip open a classic mystery and you’re likely to find a raven-haired femme fatal or an astute detective with silver hair on one of the first pages. Romance novels simply cannot exist with beautiful hair. Long wild hair or a smooth chignon are often used to project the inner life of a female character — while in real life hair is much more likely to be a reflection of ethnicity, genetics, fashion and patience.
Yes, patience! If I were to “tame” my curly hair each morning I wouldn’t have time to write anything at all. Once, years ago, two hairdressers armed with flat irons, blow dryers and copious amounts of hair product, spent 45 minutes temporarily straightening my hair. For a few days I had the hair I dreamt of as a child — long and straight. But I did not feel like me.
Does my thick mop of ringlets project a haphazard and somewhat fuzzy thought process beneath the curls? In a book it might. If I were to be morphed in a monster version of myself — a werewolf Candy or perhaps some kind of creature from another planet — my hair would be even bigger and more complicated. It might even project some kind of energy force field. I might enjoy that as, oddly enough, my hair has none of the static electricity needed to stick balloons to walls. (Strange but true.)
Hairy beasts, bald wise men, crones with silver plaits, hunky heroes with waves to their shoulders and ingénues with tresses hanging down their backs… Who is your favorite hairy character? Do you think the outside reveals the inside of a character? Or just the amount of time they spend on grooming?