Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Five reasons supporting the idea to create an interesting character give them a hat

Is there an unwritten rule of genre fiction? Sure. Good thing I'm a writer too because if I didn't write it down and just...I dunno...told you about it, chances are it would remain unwritten. Life has little ironies like that. So, I've been thinking. At first, I sat in front of my word processor working on my paranormal masterpiece that P.T. Dilloway says has an unpronounceable name (I dunno what he's talking about because Caledfwlch is as easy to pronounce and spell as "Bob") and started to wonder, how DO you create holy water exactly? and realized that you can't just boil the hell out of it. Get it...boil the "hell" out of it? Disclaimer: if you don't find that last line funny, then this next question totally applies to you:
But I digress, and I have some more completely random points to make before I'm through with you. So more to the point, what (you may ask) is my epiphany for the writing world? It is this oh beautiful people:

To create an interesting character give them a hat.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!?! I mean IT'S SO SIMPLE WHY DIDN'T YOU THINK ABOUT THIS?!? Allow me to explain in a way that will poignantly illustrate why I am me and you are you.

First, this is totally THE REASON why I have Jordan wear a sports cap on his head all throughout Slipstream and Oculus. SERIOUSLY. And for anyone that's read my books, he'd so be less cool without a hat. And second...well there really is no second. So let's just go with "first" and examine how I arrived at this conclusion? Easy...by paying attention to books, movies, comics, and video games in the last 30 years. It sure as heck wasn't doing anything constructive with my life.

1) The Sorting Hat. Everyone's read the Harry Potter books. If you haven't, you should just go out and punch a bunny right now because you are a mean person. Now, for those readers of my blog who are not out and punching bunnies, admit this one truth: the story really takes off post "Sorting hat." It's kind of the defining moment marking a change of direction from "I have no idea where this story is headed" to "oooh, now everyone has a motive behind all their mean-ness."
Harry  looks constipated in this picture. I hope everything
comes out all right. :/
2) OddJob. The huge mute Korean from the James Bond 007 film, "Goldfinger" is remarkably uninteresting unless you like huge Korean men who can crush golf balls into dust.  But wait, there's a scene where he throws his bowler hat and lops off the head of a stone statue. At that point, you realized, "Hey, this is an Asian stereotype with flare. He may only drive the white guy around and probably still do his laundry, but at least he has an accessory with a deadly razor blade ring of metal in it." I guess given the time, it was difficult to entrust a gun with a Korean. You can bet that we won't see this again anywhere.
I get no speaking lines. I just crush golf balls into powder and wear this
completely innocuous hat that really sets off my eyes. No, it doesn't have
a deadly blade in the rim that I can direct better than a Frisbee.
3) Kung Lao.  This guy  is a video game character from the Mortal Kombat series, introduced as a player character in Mortal Kombat II in 1993. He's a former Shaolin monk, and a close friend of the series' protagonist Liu Kang. Kung Lao gained considerable popularity and favorable critical reception, in large part due to his famous weapon resembling Oddjob's hat (ZOMGAH I JUST SAID IN #2 THAT WE WOULD NEVER SEE THIS AGAIN).
Kung Lao is only cooler than Oddjob because he's drawn that way.
I didn't think Oddjob's hat was all that cool, but there was the time he lopped off the head of that statue. Can Midway top that? I mean come on...what could you possibly do with a hat and a razor blade? It's not like you could slam it into the ground and make a makeshift table saw. *SNORT That would totally be unbelievable and no one would buy that.

Okay i have to admit...that's cooler than Oddjob's hat. I especially like how
the words flash "Kung Lao Wins" as if that weren't obvious. I guess we
have to be told everything nowadays.
Okay...maybe there are a few people who would buy that. But is it gross? Or is it just really the coolest thing you've ever seen? I sense a disturbance in the force: like maybe there's going to be a sharp divide on the "perceived coolness" of this graphic based on whether you are a boy or a girl.  I don't know what testosterone has to do with it, but the Magic 8 Ball says "Yes."

4) Big Trouble In Little China. This little gem from the eighties deserves its own blog post because it's just that cool. But there's no dispute that hats are the accessory that make or break the on-screen mojo of every character present.  Just look at Jack Burton with the hat and without the hat.
Can you feel the coolness radiating from Kurt Russell? Yeah...now YOU know the reason
why Jordan wears a hat in my books. 
Yeah. If you'd kept your hat on, you wouldn't have gotten your ass kicked.
And don't even get me started on the Three Storms.  The only reason the lightning guy lived to the very end was because he kept his hat on.
5) Rick Grimes ala "The Walking Dead." Rick Grimes BEFORE he gave his hat to Carl is a complete badass. After he gave his hat away, he's basically lost his mind. So my premise is that the hat is what kept him from going insane, not the zombie apocalypse and all the emotional baggage that comes with that.
Before he gave his hat away, Rick is clearly in charge.
Rick gave his hat away. Now he's all crying and blubbering and has totally lost it. But his
son is now the calm and cool and  totally wooden psychopath that we can really get behind.
So there you have it, my friends. Are you now convinced that in your own writing, you need to give your characters a hat to make them interesting?

Have a great Tuesday :)


  1. Oh, no way! You left out the hat of all hats. The hat worth risking death to retrieve. The most iconic hat in all of movie history! The classic fedora worn by Indiana Jones!

    And, of course, there's also the Man with No Eyes.

  2. Of course I have to agree with Andrew!

    All my favorite country music singers wear a hat (yep, even the girls), and there is no way Rick is as good looking without the hat. Of course, when he speaks in his normal voice you forget the hat thing - he's cool with at suave British accent.

    Cutting the dude in half is just sick. Wait, let me go see it again to be sure.


  3. ♫ Baby take off your coat
    Real slow
    Take off your shoes
    I'll take off your shoes
    Baby take off your dress (O.O)
    Yes, yes, yes

    You can leave your hat on!♫

    Also Alucard. :D

  4. OMG! Thank goodness my son is only into wresting games. ;) That stuff is disturbing.

    Hats are cool. Give me Clint Eastwood in a hat any day!

  5. Big Trouble in Little China IS cool. And shortly after that, Carpenter lost his groove.
    Guess that's the one part of me that's in my books - I hate wearing hats and not one of my characters wears one. Most of them would just have boring, regulation military caps anyway.

  6. Awesome post...I will never look at hats the same way! I'm already trying to figure out how to give my characters some headgear ;)

  7. It's true, I don't thank Jean Claude Van Damn's Legionnaire would be the classic it is today if he didn't wear that beret in it.

  8. At first, I scoffed at the truth in this post. But then I remembered that one of my favorite characters from a book series ALWAYS wears a hat. Roland the Gunslinger from King's Dark Tower series has a hat. Like a Clint Eastwood type hat...

  9. OMG, parts of this post made me laugh out loud to the point where I almost woke up my kiddo (which would suck, since I woke up at 4:30 this morning to get blog reading in)! I had to settle for subdued snorting. True and hilarious post~ thanks!

    *ps, "boil the hell out of it"- Ha!-I'll be sharing the "how do you make holy water" thing with my religious relatives this weekend :)

  10. Now that you've brought this to my attention, HATS are the answer.

  11. Yep, hats are the answer. One of my characters always wears a Stetson, giving him that cool, suave, mysterious look - especially when he peeks at you from under it.

    And the song that Elise Fallson quoted above is bang on :)...lol

  12. This is a very interesting point. One of my favorite fantasy series is the Wheel of Time, and one of the main characters Mat Cathon has a signiture hat that makes him a little more interesting than when we didn't have it before. I wonder... if you had a hat that defined you and made you more interesting, what would it be? I actually have a hat that does that for me! I have a wide brimmed fedora that I wear all of the time. :) Again, great post!

  13. Hey, Burt Reynolds took his hat off in Smokey and the Bandit and look what happened to him.
    CD Coffelt ponders at Spirit Called

  14. I don't know I'm torn on this. I mean Han Solo never wore a hat but Indiana Jones did.

  15. I love this post. You make a very excellent point about Rick and Carl. And cheers for including OddJob. That poor guy never gets enough shout outs.

  16. Hats? Who knew?

    I can't think of a good reason to give Talia a hat, but maybe Landry? Or one of the new characters joining the party.

    Other thoughts--gross and do you think Rick's hat was lined with protective plastic wrap/aluminum foil to keep him sane/protected from aliens and zombies?

  17. I love your take on making holy water. :)
    There's so much I'm missing out on, not being a gamer. I never got past Mario and Donkey Kong. I have to vote with "gross" on the clip.
    My latest MC doesn't wear a hat. *sob* One of the minor characters does, though.

  18. Funny post. And yes I got the Holy water joke. Hardy har har. Good thing nobody has ever confused me with a serious person!
    I'm thinking Kurt Russell should have kept the hat to hide that poofy mullet.

  19. LOVE hats... Wear them all the time! I have quite the collection from ball caps to fedoras... depending on my mood....

  20. @Andrew: I can't name every cool character that wears a hat. There are so many! But that's what comments are for :)

    @Donna: LOL. You love the British guys. No wonder you're a fan of Kolin.

    @Elise: Sing it girl!

    @Joy: mmhmm...video games are kinda violent and bloody these days.

    @Alex: Military hats count!

    @Vanna: You could try a tiara. Amy on Big Bang Theory loves her tiara.

    @Rusty: I'm glad you broke out the JCVD big guns.

    @Brinda: Scoff at me will you? I knows everything...

    @Jess: hehe

    @Cindy: I'm a fan of tinfoil hats myself.

    @DRC: Agreed

    @Michael: I never could get into the Wheel of Time.

    @Huntress: At least I got you thinking.

    @P.T.: Indiana Jones was a cooler character than Han Solo, especially now that I know Greedo shot first.

    @M.J.: Yeah. I felt like givin' some love to an old Bond villain.

    @Charity: LOL

    @Laura: Wearing a hat makes an mc immune to character death by way of the author. It's true.

    @Elizabeth: Ewww...mullets. Yes, I hates them too. They are still in style in Idaho.

  21. So THAT"S been my problem my entire life---I've never had a cool hat. Must get me one!

  22. Saw Hat is horrifying. I may have nightmares about that. Thanks.

    Also, I'm not convinced. Jordan could take his hat off; I give you permission. Or you could give him a DIFFERENT hat if you're phasing out the hockey.

  23. I do like Rick Grimes as a man and as a person, and I don't like what they're doing to him in WALKING DEAD right now. Such outstanding moral heroes should always win and be awarded at least in shows and film, so that we wouldn't lose hope in reality too.

  24. I resent the implication! No, actually, I shared the first draft of my novel, and in it his predilection is to wear sweatshirts with the logo of the Seattle Seahawks, it's only mentioned once in the story, but a friend (male) wrote back and told me I should give him a hat. The sweatshirt made him sound too second class. I laughed, but I was also insulted! :)
    He wears no hat! However, all those you mentioned, definitely made an impression because of the "HAT"! I don't like hats, they really get in the way when kissing!

  25. I'd better give my post-apocalyptic characters hats--at least one of them. Never thought of that before. You're so right. The men look more - well authorative - with a hat.

  26. My personal hat is made of tin foil, naturally. But, hmmm, I'm wondering if a hood counts in this category. My character pulls her hood up a lot. Could it be a subcategory of hat perhaps?

  27. LOL on the holy water. Gross on the tablesaw. Is it just me, or do hats blow off in the wind too much to be practical? But my character with pointy ears would want to hide them, and losing his hat in the wind would make a good reason for him to chase it into "Danger, danger, Will Robinson..." I think the robot's dome looked like a hat.

  28. Holy shit you make a great point about Rick. He's not looking good after Sunday's episode.

  29. 'Boil the hell out of it ...' I just spit up some Diet Dr. Pepper. :-D

  30. It's true! A man in a hat looks serious and mysterious!


  31. Holy water? Hmmm, I remember reading somewhere that it needed direct sunlight for a set number of hours...

    (Yes, I got the joke. I'm ignoring it.)

    Big Trouble in Little China? Wow, you're pulling up all the strange movies from my younger years. I wonder if you can guess what I stumbled across just today.

  32. Ah, that's so true about hats! It does make a character more interesting and exciting if there is a hat involved. :D

  33. Ha ha ha! What a wonderful idea! And it's true - Gandalf has a hat, after all. All the dwarves have hoods and they lend one to Bilbo. Hmmm... I can see I'm definitely going to need to introduce hats into my stories.

  34. Just had to pop back and tell you I gave my white-skinned post-apocolyptic semi-hero a hat. The idea was so right because he couldn't stay in the sun too long. I had fun working out how he made the hat. Thanks for a great idea.