Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Photo Tuesday - Envisioning Characters

As we write our stories, we usually have a good idea what the main characters look like. But sometimes, a visual really helps!
I am a visual person, so having a photo in front of me often spurs my creativity.
All of the main characters in my series, The Circle of Friends, are loosely based on a celebrity's appearance. Lori resembled Anna Kournikova. Heather looks a lot like a younger version of Sean Young.
For each of the main characters, I selected a well-known athlete or celebrity and searched online for photos. Google Image Search is great for this! Those photos helped me envision a real person while writing my stories.
For Book III, which comes out August 18th, I selected Martin Henderson (from The Ring) for the character of James. (See photo above!) They shared similar features and hair style. Even more important, Martin's expression and eyes reflected the hint of sadness that I saw in James, and it helped me connect with this character on a personal level.
How about you? Do you use photos of real people to bring your characters to life?
BTW - a caution when searching for images. While I enjoyed looking for photos of Christian Bale (Jason in Book I) I happened upon a few that were more of him than anticipated. (Not that I'm really complaining!)


  1. If I ever get up the nerve to write the novel in my head, this is a great way to visualize characters. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I haven't used pictures, but I think it's a great idea. Now, it's so easy to go online and find pictures - so, yeah, I'll try that next time.

    Straight From Hel

  3. I don't use a photo, although I can see where that might be a good tool. Most my characters are people or composites of people I've known. I'm also a big fan of not detailing to the reader all at once every little mole and hairstyle and tatoo, etc., that a character has - I like the reader to imagine and fill in the blanks. I really dislike being told the character was a "look-alike" of some famous actor or entertainer - that just ruins the imagination and kills the fun for me - too pigeonholing for my tastes.

    The Old Silly

  4. Oh beleive me, Marvin, I do not detail out the character in the book - there's lots of room for imagination.
    The images are more for me so that I can get a feel for the character and slip into his or her mind.

  5. Photos are really helpful tools for visualizing characters. I use Google Images and just tweak the settings so I don't end up with a lot of nude pics. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  6. I like to use pictures from catalogues and magazines, just for a general idea of my characters. Hairstyle, clothing, the way he/she smiles. I put them on poster board and hang them by my desk to remind me of eye color and such.



  7. That is a great idea. I have been collecting pictures of wierd animals, settings and objects for the alternate world I'm working on but I hadn't thought to do that with the main characters. Most of them I have just drawn in my head and they look a little like comic book characters right now.

    Chris C.