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zerosystem
07-24-2016, 08:21 AM
I'm writing a fantasy novel with a character whose clothes changes whenever she uses a different type of spell (think along the lines of the battle system in Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns or the one used in Final Fantasy X-2). What I'd like to know is do I have to describe each garment she wears whenever it changes or is the knowledge that it occurs enough? I ask this because the garment changes happen frequently and I feel it would bog down the story to detail what she is wearing every single time.

Thanks in advance.

Matt T.
07-24-2016, 08:30 AM
If it's happening constantly, like more than a couple times per fight scene, I probably wouldn't. If it's only occasional, a brief description of what her clothes have changed to would be a nice detail, but I wouldn't spend too much time on it.

Pseudonymous
07-24-2016, 09:28 AM
It could be funny to have her avoid using a particular spell because she loathes the outfit that goes with it. Other than that I wouldn't spend many words on costume changes, unless they inspire a reaction from your characters or otherwise contribute to the plot. Detailed but irrelevant descriptions of clothing/hairstyles/makeup always give the impression of author-insertion fanfic or a kid changing Barbie's outfit for the 11th time. (That might just be me. YMMV.)

Do your other magic-using characters come with the same feature? If not, I'd be interested to see how she explains to the other characters why she started the day in a suit and ended up in a superhero costume.

zerosystem
07-24-2016, 05:19 PM
Do your other magic-using characters come with the same feature? If not, I'd be interested to see how she explains to the other characters why she started the day in a suit and ended up in a superhero costume.

Multiple characters do, which is part of the problem. I'm not sure I can keep creating new outfits for everyone to wear every time a different spell is used for each person. Especially in an action scene, I don't want to take time describing the outfit before getting to the attack.

Pseudonymous
07-24-2016, 06:18 PM
Multiple characters do, which is part of the problem. I'm not sure I can keep creating new outfits for everyone to wear every time a different spell is used for each person. Especially in an action scene, I don't want to take time describing the outfit before getting to the attack.

Hmmm, good point. OK. You said they get a costume change for each type of spell.

Could you keep it to a few broad categories? For example: armor for combat spells, cloaks for illusions, an apron for domestic spells, and so on? No need to change outfits in an action scene then. You could still make small changes to their outfits when they master new spells. It sounds like the outfits are important to your worldbuilding, so you probably don't want to lock characters into wearing the same set of armor forever.

You could get some mileage out of their outfits signalling their intent, too. For example, if a character tried to disguise themselves magically but everyone noticed they were wearing a cloak and figured they were up to something.

Feel free to disregard for any reason - there's no shortage of possibilities in SFF, I'm sure you can come up with something else!

PeteMC
07-26-2016, 01:00 AM
Is there any in-story explanation of where these clothes come from and why this happens? Admittedly I don't know the game you mentioned, but this seems... odd, to be perfectly honest.

Kjbartolotta
07-26-2016, 01:22 AM
I have to be honest, as much as watching those pretty women change outfits in FF X-2 was enjoyable, it kind of got old after the first hour or two. I'm not sure reading about it would have the desired effect, so much of the dress sphere system works because it's visual. Not that I'm against costume porn, just that you're going to be spending lots of time describing costume every time a spell is cast, and the reader might start wanting things to get a move on.

I think Pseudo's got the right idea, it could be interesting if you think about a visual language to the spells, give a sense of uniformity to it so the reader is more invested in the workings of the magic system. Ultimately, it's going to take a lot of work and a certain panache to pull off, an ability to be off the cuff about what every new outfit is while surprising them with what you've come up with. It can be done, and if you're going for something in the vein of FF X-2 and XIII you'll be able to get people to goggle at how imaginative and baroque is it (while adding another interesting layer to the storyteller). Certain a challenge though.

eskay
07-26-2016, 06:29 PM
I think you should describe it in (some) detail the first time it happens in your story, and only make slight references to it other times. If there's a lot of action going on and you don't want to slow down the pace, I don't think you should mention it at all.

Gilroy Cullen
07-26-2016, 07:20 PM
Are the outfit shifts relevant to the plot? Would the plot advance by taking a paragraph to describe the new outfit?

I agree with the others. Describe it once in a downtime scene, then just make a reference as things proceed forward.

zoedragon
07-26-2016, 09:58 PM
I, too, agree with the sentiment that, after you describe it once, no need to go into it every time. The only time you need to mention it again is when it becomes relevant to the scene. Otherwise constant descriptions about clothes will bog down the story. I personally don't care what characters wear, and anything longer than a couple sentences about what someone is wearing will make me impatient.

Sage
07-26-2016, 10:12 PM
Your best bet, IMO, is to introduce the outfits/powers far apart at first. Don't have your first battle switch from lightning to fire to song to healing, and have 4 different outfits there. You want to introduce them gradually. Once you've established that this outfit goes with that power, you won't have to mention such things for the future battles unless they're important (see below) to the battle itself. So switching from the sparkling gold lightning outfit to the water bikini to the flame-retardant material of the fire outfit, all in the same battle, is less cumbersome once you've established that that's what's going to happen.

You also have to do so in a natural way. In the middle of a battle will your POV character be thinking about her clothing? Maybe if it's the first time she's had that outfit. Or if it's the one that is inconvenient in some way (awkward armor that gets in the way of her agility, not enough coverage for her to feel, well, covered or that makes her feel cold, too much cover that overheats her, etc.). But for the most part, clothing is going to be the last thing a warrior will think while the enemy is attacking.

Do other characters have similar clothing changes during the battle? Those would be more likely to be noticed by the MC than her own.

zerosystem
07-30-2016, 08:07 AM
The reason for the change of clothing has to do with how magic is acquired. It isn't learned, rather it is collected by beating those who master that type of spell. Hence the change in appearance every time the spell is used.

However, I have decided to abandon the idea. It really is something that works better visually than in writing. Too much time is spent on describing clothing, which isn't fun to write or read.

I do appreciate all the responses I have received. Thanks for sharing your opinions.

Feidb
08-01-2016, 04:34 AM
In my world, using magick has consequences. It affects the user's intellect. The more powerful the spell, the dumber they get unless they stop to rest.

ULTRAGOTHA
08-01-2016, 05:25 AM
Or You could drop it in just as a mention.

'She impatiently pushed back the long flowing sleeves, and readied to cast the next spell.' Or something like that. If she's constantly changing clothes, they could get in the way of what she does next.

Or, 'She decided against throwing a fireball. The full skirts from that spell would be cumbersome if she had to dodge away.' After all, if this happens every time, she must have to think about that sort of thing when using magic, especially in a combat situation.

MonsterTamer
08-01-2016, 09:09 PM
In my world, using magick has consequences. It affects the user's intellect. The more powerful the spell, the dumber they get unless they stop to rest.

Ha! I love it.

realityfix
08-03-2016, 08:06 AM
zerosystem: Don't give up on the idea just yet. I like the idea that magic has a price in your world. Too many people dress their wizards and magic-users in robes and other traditional garb so I kind of like your approach. I have a short story MC in an unpublished sword and sorcery line of stories who liked to collect and wear things from the villans he had vanquished. Nothing gruesome like body parts but jewelry, small weapons, pieces of clothing, etc. It gave my MC a nice touch of eccentricity. So, don't abandon your idea; modify it. Best of luck.

snow1flower
08-04-2016, 12:46 AM
I think that if this was a surprise to the MC the first time it happened, it could be fun. Show them reacting to change. And then maybe getting hurt or something because of it?

MaeZe
08-04-2016, 01:02 AM
The reason for the change of clothing has to do with how magic is acquired. It isn't learned, rather it is collected by beating those who master that type of spell. Hence the change in appearance every time the spell is used.

However, I have decided to abandon the idea. It really is something that works better visually than in writing. Too much time is spent on describing clothing, which isn't fun to write or read.

I do appreciate all the responses I have received. Thanks for sharing your opinions.

The reasons behind the changes are what you have to focus on, the wardrobe changes have to move the story along or at least have meaning if they are not destined to just be boring filler the reader skips over. If you are bored writing the tedious descriptions, chances are the reader will be too.

I would focus on giving the clothing meaning.

One way to do it is to think of setting the same way you think of a character. For example, I have a scene where one character's father is a real bastard. They meet in his office so the office became an extension of the father's personality but also frightening to the character meeting the man for the first time: furniture was large and dark, the door shut with a thud and so on.


I like the idea too, if you do it right.

MaeZe
08-04-2016, 01:12 AM
Or You could drop it in just as a mention.

'She impatiently pushed back the long flowing sleeves, and readied to cast the next spell.' Or something like that. If she's constantly changing clothes, they could get in the way of what she does next.

Or, 'She decided against throwing a fireball. The full skirts from that spell would be cumbersome if she had to dodge away.' After all, if this happens every time, she must have to think about that sort of thing when using magic, especially in a combat situation.

These are good ideas. Meaning for the clothing can be as simple as a hinderance or as complex as painful recollections.