Outtakes 219


by Cait Collins

Halloween is a fun time for me. I don’t hand out treats from my apartment, but I do participate in kid centered activities. Sometime I dress up, but for the most part I’m happy to just hand out the candy.

I often wonder what makes a child decide what costume to wear. For example, does an Astrid (How to Train Your Dragon) outfit make a shy young lady feel more confident and bold?

What about the cute, quiet little girl in a devil’s costume? Is she truly a little horror or is she as sweet as she appears? The family of birds made an impression on me. I cannot imagine the time it took to stitch all those “feathers” together to make the costumes. But the real question is, why birds? Is there a sense of freedom in the idea of flying? So if we chose to go around in masks on October 31, do we also use masks the other days of the year?

A multi-faceted protagonist has numerous faces. Maybe he hides his loneliness behind a mask of indifference. His unrequited love of the school teacher is masked by an affair with the waitress in the diner. The only time he feels confident is when brokering the takeover of a struggling company. Although he is successful in business, he has no sense of fulfillment. But the most surprising mask is his need for high-risk adventure. The trick is crafting these different traits into a believable hero. The treat is when the writer makes it work.

Pick a character crafted by a favorite author. Make a list of the character’s traits and the methods the person uses to hide his flaws and the attributes he dislikes. How would you write the character?


Word Play

Outtakes 170


Word Play

By Cait Collins


Halloween is a big deal at our office. Every year there’s a costume contest and a food contest. Work teams spend time planning great costumes. One year the Harry Potter gang lost to a school of fish “swimming” in an aquarium. And if you think the costumes are wild, you should see the food entries. The entries must be edible, but a vomiting pumpkin?

But let’s get back to the costumes. My team is a correspondence team, so we are working on costumes based on plays on words. There are some clever ideas floating around: First Class Mail, Bag Lady, Pig in a Blanket, Identity Thief; Serial Killer; Fruit Loop, Book Fairy, and Formal Apology.

So here’s the challenge. Think of a play on words or a pun and write a description of the costume. This is my entry. She is beautiful. Her hair is professionally dyed and styled in an up-swept do. Wisps of blonde hair caress her face. Make-up is skillfully applied so that her complexion is flawless. A soft blush tints her cheeks. She struts down the aisle in a form-fitting evening gown of deepest black decorated with varying sizes and shapes of silver nines. She is Dressed to the Nines.