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Thread: 'Casting' your novel

  1. #26
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    Most of my characters are real people I've known well enough to put down on paper accurately. I change their names changed to protect the guilty, but not much else about them. That's casting.

  2. #27
    Skimming galaxies Lidiya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJ Hall View Post
    I was reading the pantsing versus outlining thread and thinking about my own technique, and I realized that one thing I do whether I'm pantsing or outlining is that I cast my major roles.

    There's a folder with all my word files, strictly pictures of actors and actresses that I've picked out to represent characters in my mind. Everyone from famous Oscar winners to people from stock photos or hair-style websites. (I tend to stay away from really evocative performers, like, say, Robert Downey Jr, who bring their own personalities with them.) It simply helps that person stay vivid in my head.

    Do other people do this? Would you consider it a cheat? The thing I like most about it is that you can describe that specific person if you want, in immense physical detail, and your readers would still rarely actually picture the actor you're describing. Unless they cast books as they read them, which is probably a thing.
    I think that's really smart. Once I cast a whole novel with a-list celebs and deeply regretted it later on :P It was like writing fan fiction about celebrities, just with different names.
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  3. #28
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lidiya View Post
    I think that's really smart. Once I cast a whole novel with a-list celebs and deeply regretted it later on :P It was like writing fan fiction about celebrities, just with different names.
    Yeah, I tend to go with generic people pictures, or with actors from a few decades ago (mainly because most actors nowadays all look alike anyway).
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  4. #29
    The glint of light on broken glass Tolstoyce's Avatar
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    My characters come from a variety of different sources. For example, in my WIP, I have four main characters. The protagonist looks like a video game character because I based her appearance off said character (a character whose design I admired, but who I felt was criminally underused in the video game). Another one looks slightly like an actress, but not exactly--they look like they could be cousins. Their friend looks exactly like a particular actor, and their other friend looks like a random Deviant Art picture I once saw.

    It all really depends on what the character looks like when they pop into my head. My favorites are probably the ones that are wholly original, but those faces take the longest to really "see," if you know what I mean.




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  5. #30
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    I do that too, but only as a starting point. I also do it with the setting - I tend to take little bits from different places and put them all together.
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  6. #31
    practical experience, FTW Coco82's Avatar
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    I do that w/some of my characters. One of my first MCs in my current WIP was physically based on one particular actor, but that has changed in slight ways. Most of my current characters are my own constructs though.
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  7. #32
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    I actually use Pinterest to keep track of those little bits of web imagery that really speak to me about what is in my head (aka, random pictures, art, music, "casting" choices). I just like it for myself-- I'm a visual person and sometimes a photograph can say a lot of things I want to find a way to say in word, kwim?
    Pinterest is the easiest way for me to manage that bit of internet muckery-- especially since I'm usually on it slobbering over food anyways.
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  8. #33
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    Thinking about it, I don't cast my characters so much, but I do hunt around for photographs of locations. So, frex, I have a photo of a house that belongs to two particular characters.

  9. #34
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
    Thinking about it, I don't cast my characters so much, but I do hunt around for photographs of locations. So, frex, I have a photo of a house that belongs to two particular characters.
    Oh yes, I've done that. I kept a floor plan of a house that a large part of a story took place in - really helped me visualize the action parts.
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  10. #35
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    I didn't realize it at the time, but I think casting my characters was one of my favorite parts of the process. They came to me and were developed long before the story had a plot. Their separate histories determined the conflicts and hence a story was born.

    There was one problem. My hero didn't have a face. NO FACE! He had a persona. I knew his built, coloring, facial hair, style of dress, etc. But couldn't nail down the details in my mind's eye. Months later, he finally appeared.
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  11. #36
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    When conjuring characters, I seem to be much more concerned with their voices (how they speak, how they'd "sound" as a narrator) than I am with their appearances.

    Appearance accretes over time for me, and then I have to make sure to note each character's particulars in my book/series continuity log. Otherwise I may inadvertantly change a character's hair or eye color without resorting to dye or contact lenses.

    As for picking key players for a book-to-movie, I tend to think more in terms of directors than actors. Right now I'm thinking Guillermo del Toro....
    Last edited by Phaeal; 11-18-2012 at 05:20 PM.
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  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    As for picking key players for a book-to-movie, I tend to think more in terms of directors than actors. Right now I'm thinking Guillermo del Toro....
    I'm eyeballing Zack Snyder, myself.
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
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  13. #38
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    Other people certainly do, but I don't. I don't pay much attention to the physical descriptions of characters, which is probably not a good thing. :/

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post

    As for picking key players for a book-to-movie, I tend to think more in terms of directors than actors. Right now I'm thinking Guillermo del Toro....
    He's one of my favorite directors.

  15. #40
    The glint of light on broken glass Tolstoyce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeavilyMedicated View Post
    Other people certainly do, but I don't. I don't pay much attention to the physical descriptions of characters, which is probably not a good thing. :/
    It isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as the characters have distinct enough personalities that the reader can differentiate between them in his/her head.




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  16. #41
    practical experience, FTW mayqueen's Avatar
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    I do this with actors and actresses sometimes, but the problem for me is that they're often so pretty! Like artificial pretty, in a way no one ever is in real life. So I tend to also "cast" people I know in my day-to-day life.
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  17. #42
    Batmobile's in the Shop LadyV's Avatar
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    Some of my characters are based physically on celebs. Oddly enough, the majority of my male characters are based off of actors while the females are not. Go figure.

    "Be yourself; everyone else is taken." - Oscar Wilde

  18. #43
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    I'm not very good at casting my novels with actual actors or people I know. I think I do probably envision my characters (when I have a visual for them at all) based on some actor or animated character I saw at some time, but usually I couldn't tell you even what character it was, and I suck at actors.

    However, some people are great at it, and the YA forum has a whole thread dedicated to sharing that pops up from time to time.
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  19. #44
    steaming up the e-readers TheaBlowsKisses's Avatar
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    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For my first book, I didn't have a single real person in mind when I created any of my characters. For the second one, from the very first moment, my heroine was loosely based on the fabulous Yvonne Strahovsky, and then other actors eventually came to mind as I wrote.

    For the book I just finished, one of my artist friends was very interested in the concept from the getgo, and he wanted to do some character sketches for me. Those stuck in my head throughout, to the point where it came time to cast my book for the Next Big Thing blog hop, I had difficulty getting past those images that had been in my mind for so long. (Though one of his sketches DID look an awful like a young Dolph Lundgren.... )

  20. #45
    never mind the shorty angeliz2k's Avatar
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    I don't really cast characters. mayqueen said exactly what I was thinking: that actors never seem like real people to me. They're just so . .. pretty. I don't get real strong visual images of my characters. It's more of an impression.

    I do have a pretty concrete image of the male MC in my current WIP. Unlike any other character I've written, he's noted as being especially good-looking, with dark hair and bright blue eyes. So I've found a couple actors who fit the bill, but they still aren't quite there.
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  21. #46
    That hairy-handed gent
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    The current unpublishable 3/4 finished WIP? A trio of mid-19th century down-and-out conmen, all fugitives for one reason or another, traveling westward by wagon train toward the Californian gold fields, pursued by two separate vindictive enemies bent on revenge:

    The con-men:
    John Turturro
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    Denzel Washington

    The villains:
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    Sam Rockwell

    Although, having watched Skyfall just last night, I might need to find a way to get a character who could be played by Javier Bardem involved.

    caw
    Last edited by blacbird; 11-18-2012 at 09:58 AM.
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  22. #47
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Be careful what you say and do around me, or you could be "cast" into my novel....
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  23. #48
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Littlefield View Post
    Be careful what you say and do around me, or you could be "cast" into my novel....
    Bitch.

    caw
    "Badger! Badger! The weasels have stolen my motor-car!"

    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

    -- Gone with the Wind in the Willows

  24. #49
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    Bitch.

    caw
    Naughty bird!
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  25. #50
    Old revolutionary muravyets's Avatar
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    I do this, too. I need a visual aid to remind me of voice, mannerisms and personality, or else my characters all end up the same. I don't use people I know personally because I would end up writing them, or my idea of them, instead of writing my characters (who are not them).

    I don't like to use really pretty faces, unless there's a reason for it. For example, my uber-villain is supposed to be this perfect doll-like child-woman with a viciously sadistic personality. So I'm using Natalie Portman for her. I have these publicity shots of her looking just as sweet as can be. My imagination enjoys riffing off that image in horrible ways.

    Otherwise, I look for people who may be beautiful but who are not perfect. People who are ordinary or normal, physically. Or people who look like the age I want, the lifestyle I want.

    For my male MC, I wanted someone reasonably good-looking but kind of odd/off, kind of awkward yet interesting. Also, like my villain, I wanted an image that would contrast with behavior, rather than predict it. In MMC's case, I wanted a quiet, gentle presence that doesn't hint at but still is believable with the streak of cold-bloodedness and the physical violence. After much trial and error, I went with older Julian Sands.

    My female MC gave me the most trouble of all. I couldn't find a face for her because I couldn't settle on her character. I replaced her entirely three times! Now I'm satisfied. She works with the story, the scenes flow, she seems to have a decent interplay with MMC, etc. But I needed a face so I could have her set in my brain. I wanted a woman who is physically beautiful but not glamorous, who looks "regular." Someone kind of athletic, believable in physical confrontations, but also believable being insecure and acting like a girl, i.e. younger than her age. I ended up with Jennifer Garner because there are so many paparazzi photos as well as production shots of her not glammed-up, just dressed normally, with little or no make-up on.

    These are just visual aids for me, and I don't really care if the faces I choose come through in the writing, because I think the characters find their own faces in the minds of the readers. For instance, I modeled my MMC very deliberately on Julian Sands, but a friend who has read drafts insists he sees him as Liam Neeson. Totally WTF to me, but hey, as long as the character jumps off the page for him, I guess I'm on the right track.
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