Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

"On Dressing Up" By Megan Frazer Blakemore, This Week on the Stonecoast Faculty Blog

“For me, Halloween is the best holiday in the world. It even beats Christmas. I get to dress up in a costume. I get to wear a mask. I get to go around like every other kid with a mask and nobody thinks I look weird. Nobody takes a second look. Nobody notices me. Nobody knows me.”

- August Pullman in Wonder by R.J. Palacio (p. 73)

Who hasn’t wanted to use Halloween as a chance to show off a different, hidden side of oneself? Perhaps this explains all the “sexy” Halloween costumes for women and girls: sexy nurse, sexy fire fighter, and my personal favorite, Sassy Rick Grimes (though I myself would prefer a “sassy” Darryl Dixon). For children, whose lives are constricted by parents, teachers, and friends, this instinct is especially strong. Alternatively, costumes can give children a chance to not only face their fears, but also to become them, and thus conquer them.

Costumes also offer an opportunity for writers to reveal their characters. For the use of costumes to be interesting, the outfits must do more than simply telegraph aspirations, or provide a chance for literary acrobatics in their description. Rather, like everything else in fiction, costumes must be chosen and used to serve the story. R.J. Palacio’s Wonder (Knopf, 2012) and Deborah Wiles’ Countdown (Scholastic 2010) offer two different ways to use costumes to advance the plot and the emotional arc of their stories.

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