Tuesday, March 23

Picture This!

I have a pubbed friend who doesn't even begin writing until she has a clear picture of her characters in her head. And I don't mean GMC or any of that. I mean a picture. She uses characters from soaps as inspiration. One of her characters looks like Genie Francis, Laura from General Hospital, and another is based on Michael E. Knight, who plays Tad on All My Children.

I have never done this. I prefer to see the characters in my head, and let the reader picture them their way, too.

That being said, I have three pictures hanging from my bulletin board depicting characters from my current WIP. Patrice, the victim. Claire, the heroine. And Aislin, the hero's sister.

About a week ago, my daughter brought home Cosmo, and as I flipped through it, I came across an ad with a woman holding a purse. I don't know what the ad was about, but the woman in the picture was my victim. Dark auburn hair, her pout, absolutely eerily perfect. I couldn't stop staring at her image.

Eventually, though, I pulled myself together and turned the pages. Imagine my surprise when I came across yet another picture of a redheaded woman who matched my vision of the heroine in my WIP so perfectly it shook me. Claire is also a redhead. Not auburn, not strawberry, but somewhere in between. But it was the cut and curl of her hair that matched my vision down to a T.

Just as I was about to put down the magazine, I looked at one more ad. And, there in Panavision color, was the third redhead in my story. Aislin, the hero's sister. Absolutely stunning. A sweet-looking young woman with long red hair.

I'm telling you, the hair on my arms stood up. Not only the coincidence, but my perfect vision of three very different redheads in one magazine was just too much.

A sign?

Maybe, but if I open GQ (like that's going to happen in my house) and find Garth and Kelly, I'm going to call a shrink! LOL.

Do you need a picture of your characters, or do you see them in your head well enough that you don't need a photo?

Heading out to pick up next month's Cosmo and a few others......


  1. For my male characters, there is always a real life model. The lead in my theater book was based after Mark in Grey's Anatomy (really fun to watch him each week to reinforce the physicality). My WIP has 2 of the leads from Stargate in it. The women are less important - just a hazy conglomeration of hair and eye color in my head. Guess you can tell I like to fixate on what hot men look like!

  2. Hey,

    I used to do that. I' surf all types of model sites to get the image I was seeing in my head. Lot's of times I just needed to see the eyes or a flaw be it a sinister look a bad by image. It really helps seal it in.

  3. Most of my characters are "all in my head", although for my most recent release, the h's father is modeled after pictures I've seen of my dad. Otherwise, yeah, I prefer to describe them in just enough detail to let the reader "build their own".:)

  4. I've never been a huge picture user. I tried it once and it really killed the flow because I started thinking of my characters as the pictures (not that I knew the models, but you get the idea) and it really stopped me. Now, I may use a voice (Gerard Butler, anyone?) or eyes or hair color, but mostly it's in my head.

  5. I love your character-creation ideas. I have used pictures from magazines and, like you, have actualy been looking at mags and found my perfect characters. I also have merely imagined the characters. I believe that whatever works for the writer is the very best way to go. And, I took this chance go read your blogs--wonderful information for writers and readers.

  6. well, just to even things up a bit, :) I'm a *huge* picture user! I even scavenge mags for pics that I might use in the future. I love to have h/h pics that look like a) I want them to, and b) look like they "go together" if that makes sense. Think of it in movie-making terms. Nelly Furtado was my vision for my last heroine. For supporting characters you can often google by occupation and come up with some interesting people. I don't go as far as Jenny Crusie, who used to build collages for each book, but I do make up a 3ring binder "album" and take pics of locations I'm using, the h/h/ pics, etc. Also throw them up on my bulletin board so I can see them each a.m. It helps me, but I can see it's not everyone's deal. But D'Ann, glad you found those 3 redheads! :) That should really help you finish up that great story!

  7. Thanks for coming by, everyone. And, Barb, welcome and what a nice compliment! Thank you!
    In my old in-town group, I once planned to make shadow boxes for each one of the member's stories, but didn't get it done. I went so far as to buy the frames, and items for each, but just didn't follow up.
    Like Laurie, I went on0line and found a pic of the lake Patrice as floating in because Western Colorado and West Texas lakes are quite different.

  8. I give my characters names and attitudes first, then try to find their faces. I'm a very visual person so I need a real face to match the characters. My hero has Shemar Moore's face and my heroine is from a magazine add in an old sports illustrated magazine. Even my secondary characters have faces I've seen somewhere before.

  9. I've heard of your method, can't say I've used it. I usually have a vision in my head. . .But that is a little freaky finding all your characters under the cover of one magazine!

  10. I laughed out loud for real when you mentioned the GQ line. I used an actor Viggo Mortensen, for my heroes a coupleof times. Little things like his eyes and voice and just different things. The women are vague but I have an "idea" in my mind. I do think it's more fun as a reader to form our own pictures of the people. That is so odd you found all three women in one magazine. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

  11. Life gets spooky at times. Being single, I've learned to enjoy doing things on my own. Eating out is always a treat. Listening to your own words and ideas coming out of some stranger's mouth can really get eerie.
    Congratulations on finding your redheads. Enjoy the fact that they exist and hope that their reality isn't your story.


  12. Great post and so fun to read the replies. I picture Joseph Gordon Levitt from the movie "Ten things I hate about you" and "3rd Rock from the Sun" for Bix. Although I don't really have pictures posted anywhere, it's just kind of in my head as that's what he looks like.

    I've thought about doing the Jennifer Cruise collage board for fantasy idea I've had in my head for while, just to see where the images take me.

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  14. D'Ann -

    I love to use magazine pictures to help me picture my characters. Otherwise, I have a hard time seeing them clearly in my head. I rip lots of photos out of mags just because something strikes me about the person, figuring s/he might be just what I need one of these days!


  15. I see them in my head. Occasionally the right hair color shows up in a picture, and I've heard Sam Elliot's voice in most every hero I've written.

    This is why I never like "people" covers on published books. I want to see them for myself.

  16. I tried to do that once, magazine picture cut outs and then describe the hero from that...but it didn't work...but I can tell you I've never had one already "in" my brain and THEN found the picture! that would be cool/scary!


  17. That's great! I do a little of both. Usually I know what they look like and then I come across a picture that depicts them so I cut it out. Or like with the current story running rampant in my head, I know the heroine and don't need a photo at all, but I went male model diving and came up with a photo that fits the image I had in my mind of the hero.

  18. Thanks again, everyone, for coming by!
    It really makes my day to get commetns!
    Thank you! Thank you!