I am not a person who is overly fond of shoes. I own maybe half a dozen pairs and only actually wear three of them (everyday sneakers, sandals for rare skirt appearances, and hiking boots for muddy days at the park). I’m usually most concerned about comfort when I search for clothing, so I have trouble relating to characters who are defined by a near-obsessive love of attire. That might have ended with my latest pair of sandals.

They’re cushy and they’re mostly flat, they fit my feet better than most shoes, and I actually love the way they look. Strappy in a Romanesque style, they fit my list of criteria and my personality. And that brought on my epiphany. People (and characters) can use shoes to communicate. Whether it’s something as fleeting as a mood or as deep as their personality, shoes and clothing tell a lot about a person. This is probably obvious to many people, but I’ve never given it much thought (as my wardrobe attests).

This revelation has come with a new writing exercise I’m eager to try. I’m going to go shoe-shopping for some of my characters. Whether online or in a store, I’m going to peruse the shelves while thinking of my characters and ask myself, what would they wear? Would they be excited about these shoes? Is there an event in the book that might make them want to go out and buy a special pair of shoes?

I might never use the actual shoes in the story, but it will definitely inform the character and that will come across in my writing. When my writing helps me to understand the people around me better, that is a very good thing.

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