Before Sunday School started today, a couple of us women were talking about shoes. I guess that was still on my mind when I looked down and compared the footwear of the three men sitting at my end of the table. One wore ankle-high work boots, another a pair of comfortable slip-ons and the third a pair of highly polished wingtips.
Even though I know each of these gentlemen, I could tell by the boots who was the outdoors handyman, who was going to be on his feet for the next hour preaching and who was the businessman.
I thought then about the shoes the characters in my WIP wear. Morven, the heroine, wears a pair of sturdy boots outside the house and soft moccasins inside. When invited to a dance, she takes some stiff material and sews a pair of slippers that she knows will be ruined by the end of the evening.
Morven also is infuriated when the town assemblymen decide not to grant her the money to purchase her ward, Elisabeth Anne, her annual pair of shoes on the grounds that she has stopped growing and therefore can continue wearing the pair she has.
In another scene, Morven snares the rabbit that has been nibbling in her garden. She takes the skin to a tanner so she can make Tamsen's baby son a pair of fur-lined booties for winter.
Tamsen loves to work in the garden or sit outside weaving her baskets. She goes barefoot except in the coldest weather.
The villain, who manages to control Morven's life even after his death, drowns when his jackboots fill with water and drag him under the raging current.
Are shoes important to the story? Probably not in themselves, but they are details that add to character and setting -- and in the villain's case, the plot.
This doesn't mean I wasn't paying attention to the lesson. I was -- but don't we all have moments when our minds wander?
If we didn't, we wouldn't be writers.