Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Way We Are: Character Pics?


Okay, so I know that some of us use playlists for our manuscripts, some of us don't. Some of us know our characters' names immediately, some of us agonize over it for months. As far as outside-your-head inspiration goes, I have one more question.

Do you search for a picture of someone who looks like your character(s)?

Is it one of those things you have to have to start writing? Or do you go out and search when you hit a sagging part in your manuscript, to re-energize you and help you find the focus you're looking for? Or does it matter to you at all?

If you don't look for pictures, why not?

If you do, where do you usually go to find your images? And do you tend to find random people, or do you look for actors that you would love to see cast in the movie of your book?

My answer: I don't. Part of the reason is that I don't think I would ever find someone who not only had the same look, but who had the same look of / lack of confidence. The same amount of sweetness / gruffness. The same amount of innocence / guilt. You know-- all the little things that go beyond a person's features, but that also show who they are.

The other part of the reason is, beyond googling "faces" or searching through a billion photographers' sites, I never know where to look. (So if you've got suggestions, I'm dying to hear them!)

What about you?

48 comments:

JeffO said...

No, never.

The only time I've looked for pictures of people who look like my characters is when I did the Casting Call bloghop last fall. I did alright, but wasn't completely satisfied with the results, and I couldn't find anyone who looked like my MC (hence the 'camera shy' designation he got). The funny thing is, in some ways, I don't even know what he looks like (and one of my crit partners asked for more description of him, which she isn't going to get, hah hah).

I think it comes down to this: I have a picture in my head of what the characters look like, for the most part. Quite often they're based on Real People that I know. Using someone else's picture might mess me up, and I don't want that.

Tara Tyler said...

i dont. my characters are not models, there is no photo to match them. a drawing would be nice, but i'm no artist.

if i get my (i mean when, haha) movie deal, then i'll go thru headshots =)

ha!

Adam Heine said...

I've been doing it more lately. Sometimes I have a face in mind and I search for that one (my most recent draft starred three contestants from different seasons of So You Think You Can Dance).

Other times I have a general idea (Asian girl with short hair), so I'll do a Google image search for that until I see something that clicks.

The weird thing is, the images aren't to help me describe them or anything. It's more about inspiring me. I'm a very visual person, so sometimes it takes a picture to get my head in the right place.

Cherie Reich said...

I don't look for pictures to match up with my characters. Occasionally I might come across one and think, "Yeah, my character kinda looks like this," but I don't actively go looking for them. I do sometimes wish I was more artistic to draw them, though.

Eve said...

Yes. I do. Originally I started writing again with a fan fiction and as my story unfolded I used the show's characters but found myself creating my own as well. And to this day for a show that lasted 1 season and ended in 2009 I still write. It's fun and I along with some of my fellow writers love to make banners for the stories and such. It just became fun to give people a visual.

So when I started working on my book I couldn't help myself. I had a vague idea of who I saw and after some looking I found some that all be it might not be perfect but they are close enough. Sometimes when I'm stuck I pull up my photos and just look at them and then re-read and get back into it.

As for where. IMDB.com I watch a ton of TV and movies. I can find someone in the same age group and search by year born or just click on the side lists people create when I have one possibility in my head.

DRC said...

I don't use photos to help see a character. I have a pretty good image in my head already of what they look like, but as I start writing I start dreaming. I then go on to imagine who would play the roles of my characters if I ever did get a movie deal, and that's when I start looking. By doing this doesn't help my writing in anyway - in fact, it even takes up valuable writing time...lol. Damn you, Ms Day-Dreamer...

Connie B. Dowell said...

I definitely don't. I also don't draw them, though I draw comics. Part of that is because, while I want to include some details of appearance, I don't want to get too specific. I want the reader to take the details and conjure up a person in his or her own mind. Another reason is that a picture is too real for me, part of the physical world instead of a fictional world. Finally, I don't draw my novel's characters in my funny pages style, because--hey--they'd be cartoon characters! :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

I haven't. I actually try to be vague in my character descriptions so the reader can imagine as they wish. My son is working on a cover for WIP #1 in the event that I self publish and he asked me for some physical descriptions. I was surprised to realize I'd never even decided on an eye color for my main character. Ooops.

Joshua said...

I don't look for pictures, only because I feel like it makes me reign in my characters too much. As if they have to conform to this image.

Tonja said...

I don't look for pictures.

I also prefer not to have a picture when I read. It annoys me Achilles looks like Brad Pitt in my mind when I read 'The Iliad.'

Leigh Ann said...

Oh, YES. Most definitely. In fact, finding a photo of my last MC is one of the things that really got me going writing about her. When I got stuck, sometimes just looking at her picture would break the writer's block. Something about her eyes and her expression helped me connect with her in a really exciting way.

What's interesting is that my CPs have shared some pictures of what they think she looks like, and it's totally different. :) So, I'm with Adam here...I'm just a visual person, and for me, it works as inspiration.

(A tip for those of you searching for pics of your YA protags - searching for senior photo shoots can be really helpful - yields shots of realistic-looking kids.)

Great post, Peggy! <3

Kelley said...

I actually had never done a search for what my characters looked like. I just like them to live in my head. But then one of my CPs sent a picture to me after she finished my manuscript and was like 'this is how I picture Rydan to look'.

And I was like, 'Holy crap! That IS Rydan'.

Turns out my version of Rydan is the Disney Movie Tangled's version of Flynn Ryder. :) haha

Delia said...

I do, but only when I'm stuck or something. It's a way of working when the working's not working, y'know? I start out by googling specific physical traits. If I can't find anything that way, I move on to IMDB and use the advanced search. You can sort people by age, height, etc. I start with an actor/actress that I've never seen in anything, because I don't want their other roles influencing my character. Then I google around for pictures of them wearing an expression my character would wear. It can take a long time, and sometimes it works out, but when it does...perfect. :)

Patti said...

Like Delia, I go looking for pictures when I'm having a hard time describing something. But I'm a visual person, so this helps me.

Laura Josephsen said...

No, I don't, for the same reasons you said--no actor will quite fit the image in my head.

My cover artist, however, does character drawings for me, and she has this amazing way of getting my characters on paper. If there's something off, we talk about it and she tweaks until it looks right.

One of my series is written with a co-author, and she is always finding actors and actresses that reminds her of our characters. ;)

Rebecca Belliston said...

I get pictures of my characters early on. I like having the visual, but I have been tempted to stop googling them for all the other things that pop up in a harmless-looking google search. Ugh.

Jay Noel said...

Nope, I don't. Although I do come across art that is inspiring to the setting or time period I'm writing about, and I stop to study the picture and let the mind wander.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I look for features to help me describe sometimes. But I don't usually search out pics until I have a complete picture in my head. And if I search pictures out I tend to start with Facebook. Yes, I am a FB stalker. The people in the pictures are REAL. I have had my CP's e-mail pictures of what they think my characters look like. It was fun.

S.P. Bowers said...

No, I don't, for pretty much the same reasons as you. Also because when would I have the time?

Emily R. King said...

I did at first, but as I grew to know my characters better I realized they're unique. No one is going to look exactly like them.
I don't look for pictures anymore.

Jessie Humphries said...

This is one of my favorite things to do! It totally inspires me. I have always loved photography and mixing it with writing has always made sense to me.

Allison Merritt said...

Hmm. I'm sort of up in the air on this one. For my novel, The Treasure Hunter's Lady, I've never been able to find an actor I thought would morph into the MMC, but I think Rachel McAdams would make a good FMC. And when I watched Thor, I just knew that Chris Hemsworth would be fantastic as the hero for the sequel to THL.

But I don't feel like it's too necessary to spend a lot of time looking for a face to match the descriptions I've done. The hardest part, in fact, was finding photos when I did the cover that looked like the characters.

prerna pickett said...

I never think to look up people that are similar to my characters, at least not until i'm done writing it. Sometimes it's fun to imagine what actors might play my characters in movies, but for the most part I don't research that stuff.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I don't look for pictures, but I sometimes wonder if I should. Would I make my life easier? Most of my characters are pretty clear in my head, so I suspect that I'd have a hard time coming up with a good enough match.

Christine Rains said...

I don't look for pictures. I have clear images in my head and anything else would taint them.

Shallee said...

I like to have pics of my characters to start out, but I don't refer to them often. Usually, the pics help me get into the character planning, but once I start writing, I develop my own images for my characters and rarely refer back to the pictures.

Taffy said...

I do!
I never find the exact look of my character but I've come pretty darn close. I use Scrivener for my character worksheets I do and their pictures. That way I have a quick way to remind myself of hair and eye color.
I've also added houses or neighborhoods lately because of the importance it plays in my story.

Lan said...

I am 100% guilty of trawling the internet looking for pictures of people (usually celebrities) who would play my characters in a movie. I think it's very easy to do if you write a YA book because there are so many actors out there. I love doing it. It's an extra bit of motivation to keep writing. Also, sometimes I will come across someone on the train or on the street would looks very quirky and seem like they would have a great life story. So I write one for them!!

Carrie Butler said...

I couldn't even paint my characters the way I wanted them, let alone find decent photos. (They're sneaky like that.) I do try to keep many, many references on hand, though. I keep them all in a folder with various file names, like "Wallace's eyes" or "Rena's nose". Great post!

Iain said...

My characters come with faces. I’m sure that there is a Person Manufacturing Processing Plant somewhere in my head.
I wonder what kind of character would I need for a particular kind of situation, and they get beamed from the Plant to my head’s Book Character Planning Department. It’s just like star trek. A quick wibbly wobbly moment, and there they are!

Angela Cothran said...

I do--but I've never once found one the matched the picture in my head.

Clarissa Draper said...

I do. Not really for my main characters but for the subs. I like seeing what they're wearing and try to decide if that's what I imagine they wear. Great post.

Caitlin said...

Nope! I have images of my character's laid our fairly well in my head. I keep character sheets lying around so I can always fill out their appearance as a handy little cheat sheet.

Deana said...

I'm dying to hear them too! I don't go looking for just about the same reasons you don't. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love to find the perfect face for each one of my characters. It just seems like too hard of a feat.

Janet Johnson said...

I've never looked for a face for my characters. They are so precise in my head that I don't need to. I can already see them.

Susan Kane said...

My characters are composites of so many people, but somehow it coalesces into one person.

Imogen said...

I never look for pictures of my characters. I know what they look like in my head. I have a very clear picture, and I doubt anyone is going to look exactly like them. Plus, as you said, I never know where to look.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I don't photo search but I do occasionally cast my books. I then trust that the actor can portray the right amount of (sweetness/gruffness) or will surprise me by their believable portrayal ;)
I usually only do this when I get to a character who needs more filling out and then for my own amusement I just cast the rest of the book.
I love the pictures on this post BTW!

Alexis Bass Writes said...

I don't look for character pics either. They're in my head and on the page and that's enough. :) Great post!

Hannah Hounshell said...

I don't really look for pictures that resemble my characters, but sometimes I'll stumble across one(usually in the stock galleries on Deviant Art where my own gallery is) and save it to my reference folder because the resemblance is as close to perfect as you get.

Occasionally I'll sit and sketch out a new character just for fun and to help with describing them later.

Mostly though, I prefer to just describe my characters and let the reader fill in the blank. It's more fun that way :3

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

No, I never do. Although I always think I might get inspired by a picture sometime... but it hasn't happened yet. Of course, I write picture books, and many of my characters are animals which takes you into a whole different area... :)

Bea Sempere (Denise Baer) said...

I never search for pictures of my characters. I want, just like I want my readers, to imagine what I describe that comes into my head. My characters looks are conjured up in my own (crazy) imagination. I’m sure they resemble someone in this world, but I don’t want them to actually BE anyone, if that makes sense.

I also don't like it when books are turned into movies, and they change the book cover with the actor/actresses. It drives me nuts.

Christa Desir said...

I literally searched for images for the VERY first time on my fourth novel. I have never done it before and still feel a bit ambivalent about it. But I didn't "know" my characters so I wanted to create really elaborate profiles for each of them. Good post, Peggy.

Misha Gericke said...

I do sometimes, because even if I don't find an exact match, looking at the pictures and deciding if it's close is very informative.

Like the bottom pic three from the right, reminds me of one of my characters, even if he isn't blond.

Now I can sit here staring at him and figuring out why. :-)

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't tend to look for images, unless I have to (usually for a challenge or something like that). It can be fun but I rarely, if ever, come across someone to which I really go "Yes! That's my character!"

Carol Riggs said...

I don't usually look for images, but I know people who do! Just do a Google image search for gender and hair color, like "girl with brown hair." (But beware; you can get some undesirable results mixed in there). I think I just like making a whole new person up, and don't want to be limited by a photo!

tfwalsh said...

I do... and I tend to use illustrations, not real people... this means they are more suited to what I'm imagining in my mind. Plus when I look at them, I remind myself who they are...

E.D. said...

No - never. My characters live in my head (and computer) and quite often do so without a face. Quite weird, I know.