Friday, 12 May 2017

How to Grow Shorter More Bigly--Reb MacRath

At six-foot, I needed to become five-foot-five in a hurry. I had my work cut out for me, as you can probably guess, since I wouldn't hear of a chainsaw. Would I stop there, though? No, not on your life! My new WIP is a spinoff from the Boss MacTavin series. 

                                                               The Pitch
DB, Boss's partner, is sent to Seattle to helm a new Boss franchise: an adjunct of Gestalt Insurance. Overnight, our short tough-guy hero is neck deep in the corporate world, where his martial skills mean nothing. On three months' probation, forbidden to fight or even raise his voice, he feels smaller than everyone else. For his first case he picks one so easy it can't possibly get him in trouble. But soon enough he has reason to fear not a pink slip...but cement shoes.




                           Watch out now, here comes the But

For a quickie thriller, I felt good to go already. The concept seemed strong and the plot line was clear. Yet I wanted more, lots more. I began to read about and brood on the nature of personal power. And I began to draw a list of celebrities and historical figures who were five-five or under. 

1) Tom Cruise--5'7"? I don't care what they say, Tom is 5'5 or less!
2) Martin Scorcese--5'3"
3) Al Pacino--5'7"? See note for number 1.
4) Prince--5'2"
5) Charlie Chaplin--5'5"
6) Mahatma Gandhi--5'4"
7) Bruno Mars--5'5"
8) Kevin Hart--5'4"
9) J.R.R. Tolkein--5'5"
10) Paul Simon--5'3"
11) Pablo Picasso--5'4"
12) J.K. Rowling--5'5"
13) Dolly Parton--5'0"
14) Dustin Hoffman--5'6"? See note for number 1.
15) James Cagney--5'5"
16) Andrew Carnegie--5'2"
17) T.E. Lawrence--5'5"
18) Voltaire--5'3"
19) Beethoven--5'3"
20) Harry Houdini--5'4"

From my list, I went on to wonder: how could a shorter man change his image to add pow to our perception? On my third day of research I came across these two photos. Same guy, before and after.



Left side: baggy clothes...both jacket buttons done...wide loser tie...hands in pockets. 

Ride side: skinny pants, sans cuffs...shorter cut of the jacket, waist and sleeves, to show off the lengths of arms and legs...a single button done...one hand not in the pants pocket...bold angled lines on skinny tie...Everything here draws the eye upward for a stronger perception of height.


                                    Speaking of tall challenges

All right, so it seemed I was on the right track. But for the book to really smoke, I'd have to tackle a far greater challenge: show how the growth of my guy's spirit makes him a better detective--and a more commanding boss.

Coming your way next year: 5'5" of a new kind of trouble.



And have no fear: he gets to fight.

2 comments:

Bill Kirton said...

The size stuff is weird. I remember reading about the subject some time ago for a short story I was writing and it seemed that tall beat short in just about every field - education, romance, career, perceived intelligence. But I think 'perceived' is the important factor. For instance, My wife and I once had lunch at a table next to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. I'm 6'2" and he's ... er ... shorter and yet he still got all the attention. I'm sure DB will prevail, Reb.

Jan Needle said...

As a young reporter, I interviewed the Beatles. All apart from Harrison were shorter than me, and I'm practically a midget. I'm saying nothing about comparative talent, however!