This week, we are introduced to the fourth (and final) person that is going to be in the core of Lily's life for the novel. Mindil is a much different character than the others, both in her original purpose but also how she's grown across the novel.
Mindil was a hard one at first. She was supposed to be just a foil for Hasan's adultery until someone at the writing group mentioned that I was writing her as someone who know some of the pain Lily was going through and was trying to take care of her. Well, that got me to thinking and Mindil's role in the novel changed a few times from there until the current incarnation.
Now Mindil does know that Lily is on the cusp of becoming a spinster (kudame), just got kicked out of her home, and is probably terrified without a social network. She isn't going to be a foil for Hasan cheating on her, because of other things, but that also meant she ended up being a lot more forward with her.
Mindil is a combination of a number of friends and ladies I grew up with. One of them, Mar, was this lovely dame who used to drag men out on the dance floor just because she wanted to dance. One of my fondest memories was when a wife started to get huffy about it, and Mar also encouraged her to also join them. It wasn't cheating, it wasn't “wanting someone's man”, it was simply the joy of having fun.
I want Mindil to be that. She doesn't worry that her dress is half a year out of date, or that she has a shocking cleavage, or goes commando, she just has fun.
At the same time, she also wants Lily to be comfortable. Some years ago, I read an interview about a movie actress who was about to do her first sex scene. She was scared and nervous because there would be fifty or more people staring at her while she was naked. She came out, worried about everyone, and saw her costar doing naked cartwheels in the grass. I remember that interview because she said that seeing him doing something silly unrelated to their scene helped her relax.
I wanted part of that with Mindil's introduction. You might notice, Mindil never uses the marriage indicators in the name, not when she's introducing herself, not when she's talking to Lily. The words kudame, tadame, or even bedame won't pass her lips when she's near Lily.
She is, however, just as forward as her husband but in a different way.
Weight in Romance
One thing many of the main stream romance (and pretty much all of Hallmark channel) that frustrates me is that most of the characters are slender things. The fat people are only there for laughs or as the “best friend” role.
When I first had Mindil as a foil, I made her waspish mainly because I didn't want to write about a fat woman being cheated on. However, since she has a much more significant role in Lily's future, I decided I wanted her to have some heft but also be comfortable with.
At the same time, I didn't want to fetishize her weight. She is fat but it isn't her primary trait. It isn't what defines her, only something that is part of her. If I'd say Mindil's primary trait, it is her personality and how she inserts herself into conversations and social circles.
Writing it is harder though mainly because I've read so much about skinny people falling in love that I don't have as many examples to internalize the grammar and poetry from other writers. In many ways, this is outside of my comfort zone of a writer, but it is—like everything else—a story I thought would be fun to write.
(She also doesn't shave, but that's a different post.)
Second-Hand Dresses 10: The Other Woman
Despite her progress on Nirih's dress, Lily has to stop to have lunch with Hasan and his wife. She is nervous, mainly because she doesn't know anything about the woman who Hasan married, and she didn't think Mindil knew anything about the kiss in the carriage.
Read the chapter at https://fedran.com/second-hand-dresses/chapter-10/.
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