Monday, February 23, 2015

Character Traits: The Repercussions of Long Hair

This will be an ongoing series that will hopefully help you with character details and depth. Since I have really long hair, I decided to start it off with a little bit of humor at my expense.

Long hair has its advantages. It can be braided, twisted, and tied into many other hairstyles. It’s attention-getting. Men seem to prefer long hair, although it attracts just as much attention from women and little girls. It represents beauty, but it also represents strength. It also looks really good on the book cover.

There are a lot of reasons for selecting long hair for your characters. But be aware of the disadvantages:

  • Long hair requires a lot of care. It takes more shampoo and conditioner. There are more knots and tangles. And we won’t even talk about how long it takes to dry.
  • It gets caught on clothing. It can get tangled when taking off a shirt. It can get tucked into jeans - even underwear.
  • It’s a challenge at meal times. Either tie it back or risk it getting into the food. (I can get away with this on spaghetti night, though.)
  • Long hair accumulates faster on the floor, hairbrush, and in the shower drain.
  • Long hair can get caught in drawers, doors, car windows, and even sun roofs.
  • At night, long hair can become very tangled. The options are tie it up or flop it over the top of the pillow. Someone else could also roll over on it.
  • Which leads to another scenario where long hair gets in the way. Enough said.
  • With really long hair, when bending over to retrieve something from the floor, all that hair falls forward. Finding something on the floor can only be done by touch.
  • When the wind blows, visibility is also greatly reduced. Your character isn’t the walking dead but the walking blind.

Yes, I have done all those things. And I’m sure I missed plenty. However, despite all of those issues, I wouldn’t trade my long hair for anything in the world.

Just remember those problems if you give your character long hair. You may or may not want her to trip up on her own hair!

60 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love your hair, Diane!

And I'll second everything you've said about it. Mine isn't quite as long as yours, but it definitely gets in the way sometimes (especially, yes, when eating)!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love your hair too. And these are good things to consider if you have a character with really long hair.

Vanessa Morgan said...

You have GORGEOUS hair. I tried to have very long hair too once, but I hated to be stuck on my own hair whenever I tried to turn in bed :)

shelly said...

Its also hot and gets in your face when you're trying to sleep. I used to always get a knot at the nape of my neck.

Loved your post today!

Clarissa Draper said...

Me three! I love your hair too. Great tips. I have really short hair, almost a pixie cut. It's much different.

Lynn said...

I didn't think of all those challenges with long hair. But it sounds like it is worth it! And your hair is beautiful!

Karen Walker said...

You have such beautiful hair, Diane. I am so jealous. I just cut mine very very short. I'd grown it long to cover thinning spots where scalp showed, but it didn't work. These are great things to remember when writing character traits.

Robin said...

All true. A character with long hair will probably carry a barrette or scrungie (to pull it up in a ponytail) if it gets windy outside. Or just in the way and annoying. I'm always dismayed when I get in a car with the windows down only to find out I have NOTHING to pull it into a ponytail. By end of trip, my hair is a wild, tangled mess... and I couldn't see anything the whole way!

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Excellent points.
One that really chaps my hide is hair getting stuck or wrapped around screws or nuts in the walls or chairs, etc.

Get up or walk away always leave behind a few strands and a sore head!

Sarah Foster said...

These were great! My hair isn't quite as long as yours, but it's pretty damn close! I think my least favorite part of the day is getting all the knots out after I wash it.

Jay Noel said...

You're like Rapunzel!

I knew you had long hair, but I didn't realize just how long it was. I don't think I could do it. In fact, I'm tempted to shave my head to keep from having to mess with it.

Bish Denham said...

I have long hair like that, down to my butt I actually find it easier to take care of than short hair. I don't have to get it cut ever 4 to 6 weeeks. Yes, I've all those things happen, but throwing it up uin a twist, knot, braid is SO easy!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Vanessa, that's why I flop it over my pillow now.

Shelly, hot isn't good in summer, but long hair makes great earmuffs in winter.

Robin, I always have a scrunchie. If you think riding with windows down is bad, try indoor skydiving. I didn't think I'd ever get the knots out of my hair.

Holly, that happens!

Jay, it's long enough I sit on it. I should've included that in my post.

Bish, that is a very good point.

Hart Johnson said...

I always wished my hair would get long. Actually, wet, it sort of is--it reached my mid-back and considering how tall I am, that is pretty long, but it's curly, so it only reaches about half that dry... Curly hair has it's own set of stuff. Good stuff to keep in mind in writing though--it is definitely something that can be a hassle.

Shelley Sly said...

These are all good points! I have a pixie cut, so when I write about characters with long hair, I have to think back to when my hair was long and imagine how it might get in the way. (Short hair has its challenges too, though -- my head is freezing in the winter unless I wear a hat.)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Your hair is beautiful. I smiled the whole way through your post. My daughter has really long, thick hair. If she ties it up after showering, it could take two days or more to dry. And let's not talk about what that long hair does to the vacuum. Sore subject at our house.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I had a mullet once and that was way too long.

Arlee Bird said...

Your hair is pretty stunning. The other day I read that people with red hair never go gray. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's kind of cool if it is.

Hair is often a trait of a female that catches my attention right away. Though I like short hair on a woman too.

Good points about using details about hair when creating a fictional character. It can become a vital detail in certain situations that goes beyond a characters appearance.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

cleemckenzie said...

I love it when people have long and lovely hair. And your post says you definitely do. But how great to tie that in with characterizing. Very clever.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

great little details to keep in mind. My current MC plays basketball and is always fretting with her hair. At home, is always walking around with her hair wrapped up in a towel. Sound familiar?

Peaches D. Ledwidge said...

I had no idea your hair was that long. I love list of pros and cons.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

So true. I like having long hair because it's prettier, but I hate the maintenance involved. Plus it gets too hot during the summer.

Your hair is GORGEOUS!

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

Very funny post! And certainly something to keep in mind with character development. Thanks for the tip!

DL Hammons said...

I laughed at a couple of those. I had no idea how irritating long hair could be...if you let it. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Your hair is a lot longer than mine, but I'm growing it out because I want to donate my hair again to Locks of Love. I hate it when my hair gets so long that I sleep on it. Now I have to sleep with my hair in a ponytail.

Jo said...

As you know I once had very long hair. Cut it in my 20s and never looked back. Luckily my husband does NOT like long hair.

J E Oneil said...

Ha! Yeah, that all sounds about right. And good point on remembering things like that for a long-haired character. It's details like that that writers tend to forget about.

Lidy Wilks said...

I"ve always wanted long hair. I'd been growing my hair out for years and just when I finally had it past my shoulders I had to lob it all off. But this time, after reading this, I think I like my hair at medium length. As for whether or not, I'll give my character(s) long hair that's still up in the air. But at least now I know its disadvantages. Great post.

Carol Kilgore said...

Your hair is beautiful. If I had better hair, it would wear it longer. But I don't think I have the temperament for hair like yours. All I would do would be to put it up, and that defeats the purpose.

Jacline Carter said...

Diane

I love this post!! I say what everyone else has, too: your hair is gorgeous! Thanks for the "real world" of what long hair really entails.

freedanichols said...

I've always worn long hair, not ever quite as long as yours, but at one point in my life it was way down my back. And you are right about characters. We, as writers, need to remember this.

freedanichols said...

I've always worn long hair, not ever quite as long as yours, but at one point in my life it was way down my back. And you are right about characters. We, as writers, need to remember this.

Dean K Miller said...

I always had a thing for growing my hair lone and without sisters, never had any feedback. Always chickened out though. Daughters all had long hair, so I braided, twisted, untangled, etc.

Great details to have in a character traits.

Connie Arnold said...

You have beautiful hair, Diane! I agree with the things you said since I used to have long hair too years ago. I miss having so much hair but it is easier now. Good thoughts to consider for a character with long hair.

Stephen Tremp said...

Diane, your hair is amazing! You could almost use it as a cape and fly around town on a windy day.

dolorah said...

Even as old as I am, my hair grows really fast. It only takes about 3 years to go from crew cut to waist length. (my sister gets jealous!) When long, it gets in the way all sorts of ways. When short, I miss the annoying aspects.

There is good reason for long haired people to keep it is braids :)

Rhonda Albom said...

Your hair is so pretty, not just long but such a wonderful color. I never really thought of the downsides, surprisingly as both my teens have long hair. This is going to be a great series. Thanks.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I never knew long hair was so problematic for finding something on the floor so we appreciate the sacrifice L. Diane!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Hart, two of my best friends have curly hair so I know what you go through.

Shelly, I come with my own hat and earmuffs.

Susan, I forgot about the vacuum. My husband is always cutting my hair from ours. He says I should be bald by now.

Lee, that is sadly not true.

Mac, I do that after a shower with a second towel.

Lidy, once it gets this long, you're committed.

Hi Jackie!

Stephen - LOL!

Maurice, you're welcome. LOL

Carrie-Anne said...

I always hated how my parents made me have short hair as a kid, and was thrilled when I finally was allowed to grow it to a normal feminine length when I was in fourth grade. My bangs grew out as well. I never had short hair again until I was 24 and donated my hair for the first time. As much as I love long hair, it makes me look even shorter and younger, due to my soft, immature facial feature. I'll also be covering my hair if I ever marry, so it won't matter how long or short it is then anyway. Having shorter hair does make it easier to cover, though.

Sandra Cox said...

Fun post, Diane. I'd at least like mine long enough to pull back in a short tail, but I never have the patience to grow it out that far.

Romance Book Haven said...

Very funny post...love your long hair. I remember a time when mine was that long!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I had long hair like that at various times in my life (I've done Locks of Love twice as an adult - my hair just grows fast), and it definitely creates some interesting situations. My oldest daughter finds it to be a nice extra layer of warmth in the winter, especially while skiing.

Medeia Sharif said...

Beautiful hair. I had waist-length hair for many years. I remember it took forever to air dry and it tangled easily.

Kimberly said...

Your hair is gorgeous and so are you! I wish I could get my hair to grow that long. :)

I love that you have given all this information about long hair. This could come in very handy.

Michelle Wallace said...

Your hair is lovely, Diane! Like Rapunzel... only yours is auburn...
I can imagine the amount of patience you require, to keep those tresses in shape...
And imagine what fun it would be, creating a character with long hair?

LD Masterson said...

All of which is why I have short hair. I'm too lazy to take care of long tresses. But you made me realize I always give my female protags short hair, too. Projecting myself unto the character? Maybe.

Loni Townsend said...

Hahaha! "It gets caught on clothing. It can get tangled when taking off a shirt. It can get tucked into jeans - even underwear." <--love this.

Funny list, all things I haven't really considered. The longest my hair has been was to my waist in 8th grade. Now, I've come to enjoy my short locks. They're so easy to color, and the damage grows out quickly.

Crystal Collier said...

LOVE it. I've never been able to grown my hair that long, but I have experienced many of the issues you discuss. I just laugh when reading a fantasy story and the but-kicking heroine has long hair...that magically never interferes with her roundhouse. Ah the joys of fiction...

Sherry Ellis said...

I used to have hair as long as yours, and I know what a pain it was getting drains unclogged!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Not to mention how awful it can be in humid climates like Mexico. I keep having to remind myself that back in Canada my hair will no longer be dry and brittle. Great post, Diane. We need to remember these facts if our character has long hair.

Lexa Cain said...

I've had hair almost that long - but not as beautiful as yours! I almost always wear it in a pony tail and it still sheds everywhere. Argh! Great character tips - thanks!

Cherie Reich said...

Your hair is beautiful.

I used to have long hair. My senior year in high school it was long enough to get caught in the metal buttons that held the plastic seats together. That wasn't fun at all. It can be a challenge to have longer hair.

klahanie said...

Hey Diane,

Finally, I have arrived. Yay n'stuff....

Long flowing locks suit you, Diane. I don't have to worry about such things as I getting close to becoming a skinhead. Makes for a nice, smooth character in my stories. As for the dog, she reckons the more hair dropped on the carpet, the better.

Gary :)

Sandra Cox said...

Hope you've had a great weekend, Diane.

randi lee said...

You have such beautiful hair! I can relate to some of those instances. I had long hair for a very long time and remember it getting caught/stuck in the weirdest ways! Thanks for this post. I have a long haired protagonist and I can see some humorous situations interjecting themselves into my story now :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I've always envied people who can grow their hair long. Mine is too fine and thin *sigh* My daughter on the other hand has beautiful thick long hair - like yours!
Great list of disadvantages!

Sarah E. Albom said...

Good advice :)
I myself have been growing my hair out for about five years now, but since it's really curly as it gets longer my hair just keeps curling tighter, and tighter, and tighter. Pretty much unless I straighten it my hair is only about five centimetres longer than it was when I was 10.

Lisa said...

This was an awesome post! I never would have thought about using all that for a character, even though I've had long hair in the past. So many things one forgets! My daughter has long hair right now, and won't cut it before her wedding at the end of June this year. I'm sure she could relate to a lot of these issues!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - had to comment .. love your red hair, or just hair and that lovely rich colour ... looks gorgeous. I've always had thin hair and can't grow it .. now it's receding rapidly! Such is life .. my short hair was a blessing while I was playing squash ...

Tough now - I just am me!! Cheers Hilary