Deborah K Bates - Blog
Characterisation – and Hoofing Habits
My characters and their hoofing styles
Second to dialogue, creating the characters is a fave part of my writing processes. When I write I visualise my characters and form a pretty good image of what they look like; their facial features, height, body size and shape, colour of eyes and hair, what they wear, how their face expresses emotions, their unique behavioural habits – and it all has to match their dialogue and name. And this has to... HAS TO ... match the way they walk.
The characters in my current book are fairly well defined – except their walk. So, I set myself up at a café and watched a world of emotions go by in the passerbyers strides. My first subject was a male in his early 40s. He walked legs slightly bandied, arms buffed out to the side as if to hold a barrel under each. He passed a mid-twenties male swinging arms from side to side – reminded me of the first few moves of a line dance (no I do not line dance). I enjoyed the rhythm and it was a great visual – bandied-legged-buffed-arms with swinging-arms choreography. Then came the tippy toe male (early 20s I’d say) who literally walked on his tippy toes, slight stoop forward – to balance him I think – after all walking on tippy toes could have you toppling forward.
Then there was a lithe female, late teens, her gazelle-like glide was uplifting, until the gazelle met the stamper and then the hunchback, and head to the ground shuffler. Walking in that manner must feel lousy – watching it felt lousier. Gazelle come back!
Moving on (pun intended) came the swayer, the duck waddler, the lopsided toddler, the sidler, the racer, the marcher, the big strides forward, the small steps avoiding the cracks, and the slow mover.
The couples were interesting to watch, there was the arm strangler, the hand holders, the synchronised movers, the I-am-in-a hurry pull ’em along arm puller, the tangled arms, the arm over shoulder, the babes in arms and the slow-walker-elderly-hand-holders.
The exercise got me thinking...
A couple of coffees and a few hours later, I had a satisfactory compilation of hoofer styles to choose from and I am sure my characters would be happy with their final titivations. This exercise got me thinking - does the stamper stamp their way through life. PROBABLY. How someone walks conveys how they feel, who they are on the inside, what they are feeling. It can reveal stories about their journey in life. The stampers I know do stamp through life, heavy hoofs and heavy thoughts! Just as the tippy toers tippy toe through life somewhat timid, trying to be unnoticed. I know a gazelle and a panther hoofer and both do just that, they glide through life as if it was a dance.
What was my hoofing style?
My observations led me to question how I walked. Did I walk heel to toe or tippy toe? Did I swing my arms marching-style? I already knew I walked pretty fast – and yes I am always trying to race through life. I am aware of where my head is when I am walking and I do consciously maintain a straight-back head forward smiling posture. My gait is as unique as I am – just as everyone’s is – heel-to-toe-softly-marching-arms-gazelle-cross-swan-walker/hoofer.
As you discover more about your characters, why not discover more about your hoofing habits. What are you hoofing habits? Studies reveal that when we change our body language or the way we walk it changes the chemical state within the brain and presto it can change the way we feel and our thought processes. How cool is that! Have your unique gait but walk tall, slow the pace down, lighten the step and look forward at life. I guarantee you will feel better and your step will match your smile.
So get to and identify your characters hoofing style and discover yours in the process.
Happy characterisation. Happy hoofing!