As I work on Nobody’s Hero this National Novel Writing Month, I’ve been pulling from material I have already written. (Don’t worry, I’m not counting any of it in my 50,000 goal.) It’s funny how some darlings you love become obsolete when a better idea comes along. Take this piece I discovered — and essentially rewrote — on Monday:
“The Mornays knew how to show up in style, with Darin in bespoke Tom Ford and Lilah in a crimson evening gown that strategically hugged in some places and flowed in others — Dior had won her business for this year’s gala. Around her neck glistened a spectacular diamond necklace that was so heavy it had once almost caused a cracked collarbone. But Lilah contended the twice-weekly pilates and calcium supplements she was taking had solved that problem.
“Meanwhile, Pru fidgeted in an emerald satin dress with an attached translucent cape. It was overly dramatic and not at all her style, but it was the only gown Dior had in their Centropolis storefront that would hide the bruises from her last night out fighting crime. Her mother had raised an eyebrow, made a politically insensitive allusion to the Muslim community’s dress code, and eventually thrown her hands up with an admission that ‘It’s your money and your body, so dress how you want.'”
Since deciding that Pru’s gala ensemble would be a high-tech hostess coat developed by Foster, the Q to Pru’s James Bond, the final paragraph not only describes the wrong clothing but also robs me of being able to paint a maddening but funny scene of when Pru’s Dior-draped mother sees her daughter role up in pants to an old-school charity gala. And let’s face it — it’s always better to show, not tell.
Better ideas persist!
When I was a kid, my aunt sent me a collection of 1920s and 1950s fashion paper dolls. Instead of cutting them out and playing with them, I kept the books in tact so I could look through the fashions and fantasize about one day getting to bring back some of the styles. I hadn’t quite reached my current moto-leggings-and-heeled-combat-boots phase of my adult style sense yet, so a taffeta evening gown seemed perfectly on-brand for 9-year-old me.
One of the styles in the 1950s book was one I recognized from movies like “Auntie Mame” and shows like “I Love Lucy” and “Dick van Dyke” — a hostess coat over cigarette pants. It always looked so sophisticated and elegant, and yet in those two shows, it only seemed like women wore them around the house.
Rosalind Russell in “Auntie Mame,” 1958
Mary Tyler Moore in “The Dick van Dyke Show,” 1961-1966
In working on “Nobody’s Hero,” I realized Pru is going to have to go from wearing a ballgown at a gala to sporting her vigilante armor. While the blue evening gown in Wonder Woman allowed for Diana to walk around with a sword sheathed down her back, it’s mostly Hollywood Magic that makes it possible for her to suddenly appear in her sleeveless, short-skirted armor.
Well, Pru’s armor isn’t exactly like that. Think Catwoman meets actual functionality. Again — I’m in a moto-legging phase these days.
And here’s where those paper doll books, old TV and movies, and my writing come together. Instead of the forest green evening gown I originally planned for Pru to don, the long sleeves concealing bruises and cuts she’s gotten from her nights out (I’ve also been watching “Sharp Objects” recently), she’s going to go avant-garde with her armored leggings acting as the base of a long coat-dress.
Oh, I can’t wait to write the scene where she finds her 6-foot-5 techie hunched over her high-tech pants with a bedazzler to make sure she’s up to couture code.