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JessicaJoy
10-22-2011, 06:24 AM
(I'm still new, so I hope I got the right forum section for this! I read the guidelines and I think I got it right!)

Just out of curiosity. I know I often reference celebrities/family/friends for the physical features of my characters, but it's generally a mashup. Somebody's eyes, another's height, etc.

If not, where do you find inspiration for designing your characters appearance?

I know as writers, you have to describe as opposed to drawing (I draw my characters too because it helps me [since I am also an artist] visualize them) but the process is similar, you are just using words instead of lines and colors.

speakinghands
10-22-2011, 07:12 AM
Totally! Not celebrities exactly, but non-household name actors and actresses. Especially ones that I find striking-looking and distinctive (e.g. James Frain). It's not really about their coloring, but keeping a picture of the character in my head and, if necessarily, describing the more identifying aspects of the way a person looks (e.g. the shape of the nose/jaw/forehead/eyes/etc.).

BotByte
10-22-2011, 07:20 AM
Hmm, interesting.

I've based off of characters from shows. Parts and pieces, but not whole celebs.

I think of the character's role, personality and actions to fuel their looks. My Main female is the opposite, but the side characters are built on how they act.

I say:
What would a powerful king look like? big, older
A annoying soldier? Thin, lighter.

JessicaJoy
10-22-2011, 07:39 AM
speakinghands (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=49381) - I totally understand that, because I actually write the names down of actors who I love because they look so distinctive. I actually had the fun of meeting one of the ones I had noted when I played an extra in a movie a few days ago, it was so exciting. I was actually thinking of starting a list/photo folder of distinctive features I like for reference when I am creating characters. I just think it's a little weird to have a list/album of chins and noses on my computer! ;)

BotByte (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=55402) - Do you ever think to yourself of making a character who goes against the grain using the same method?
Like thinking an annoying soldier to you is thin and lighter, and then make it the opposite? I do this for fun sometimes as an exercise just to see what would make a character go against my initial thought like that. I try to figure out how they go that way, I find it fun, but I've never used one from there in a story but I do think it's given my characters a little more diversity... So maybe it's not totally useless.

DancingMaenid
10-22-2011, 07:57 AM
Not as a rule. At least not consciously. Though sometimes I'll see actors and realize they look like what I'd imagine my characters to look like.

I don't think I usually have a great mental image of what my characters look like. Might have something to do with the fact I don't have a great eye for faces in real life. I can picture their body shapes and hair, but I don't think much about having a clear image of their faces.

When I was a kid, I used to base character appearances off of dolls I had.

JessicaJoy
10-22-2011, 08:19 AM
Not as a rule. At least not consciously. Though sometimes I'll see actors and realize they look like what I'd imagine my characters to look like.

I don't think I usually have a great mental image of what my characters look like. Might have something to do with the fact I don't have a great eye for faces in real life. I can picture their body shapes and hair, but I don't think much about having a clear image of their faces.

When I was a kid, I used to base character appearances off of dolls I had.

Oh that's really interesting, the dolls :) I've seen people also find celebs who look like their characters after they created them. I saw an author once on a Facebook page, for fun, pick actors they thought could portray their characters well... Except for the most part, I thought the choices were so off from their book descriptions and the actors did not seem to me like (personality and acting style-wise) they'd be good choices. It was almost traumatic for me! But it was still a really fun idea.

speakinghands
10-22-2011, 08:25 AM
speakinghands (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=49381) - I totally understand that, because I actually write the names down of actors who I love because they look so distinctive. I actually had the fun of meeting one of the ones I had noted when I played an extra in a movie a few days ago, it was so exciting. I was actually thinking of starting a list/photo folder of distinctive features I like for reference when I am creating characters. I just think it's a little weird to have a list/album of chins and noses on my computer! ;)

Not weird at all! For me it's also a lazy mental shortcut. I do the same things with settings. Mythical dream landscape? Oh, there's some bizarre buildings in Barcelona that I'll google image. A small southern town or a main street with fabulous old beautiful houses? I'll just use a place I've lived before or one I'd like to visit. It's creative outsourcing, lol. I have finite creative energy and I need to reserve it for, like, characters and plots. I don't need to invent a town or a person; I'll just use one I already know of, and customize it to suit the needs of my narrative if necessary.

Distinctive-looking people who I've met in passing but don't know well are also fair game. One of the characters in my WIP looks like a young waitress I had about a year ago. Her hair was very memorable (think Zooey Deschanel). I was totally jealous of it - my husband actually went up to her and asked what hair products she used, since I was wondering (the answer was, of course, "Oh I just wash it and put a little olive oil on the tips when they're dry" - oh, bullshit. *sigh* girls) and the character in my WIP is very loosely based on a real-life childhood frienemy that I've got some residual jealousy of/anger towards. She - the childhood friend - is actually rather famous now. Her hair sucks real bad in its natural state (since her debut she's gotten a dye job, a $500 haircut, and must use massive amounts of styling products to force her hair to look what I would call "decent"), so having the character's hair be awesome is a way to distance the character from her real-life inspiration. I was never jealous of that bitch's hair, I'll tell you that. :D

Hiroko
10-22-2011, 08:32 AM
So far, nope. I tend to pull looks out of my head. :tongue

JessicaJoy
10-22-2011, 08:56 AM
Not weird at all! For me it's also a lazy mental shortcut. I do the same things with settings. Mythical dream landscape? Oh, there's some bizarre buildings in Barcelona that I'll google image. A small southern town or a main street with fabulous old beautiful houses? I'll just use a place I've lived before or one I'd like to visit. It's creative outsourcing, lol. I have finite creative energy and I need to reserve it for, like, characters and plots. I don't need to invent a town or a person; I'll just use one I already know of, and customize it to suit the needs of my narrative if necessary.

Distinctive-looking people who I've met in passing but don't know well are also fair game. One of the characters in my WIP looks like a young waitress I had about a year ago. Her hair was very memorable (think Zooey Deschanel). I was totally jealous of it - my husband actually went up to her and asked what hair products she used, since I was wondering (the answer was, of course, "Oh I just wash it and put a little olive oil on the tips when they're dry" - oh, bullshit. *sigh* girls) and the character in my WIP is very loosely based on a real-life childhood frienemy that I've got some residual jealousy of/anger towards. She - the childhood friend - is actually rather famous now. Her hair sucks real bad in its natural state (since her debut she's gotten a dye job, a $500 haircut, and must use massive amounts of styling products to force her hair to look what I would call "decent"), so having the character's hair be awesome is a way to distance the character from her real-life inspiration. I was never jealous of that bitch's hair, I'll tell you that. :D

I don't think a mental shortcut makes it lazy. I learned a little about I think it was monastery towns? I can't remember for sure, little self sufficient towns in the middle of nowhere, where people families would move, and they would all get jobs and work for no money, because they had everything they needed living in this little world they created. I thought it'd make an amazing dystopia/escape from utopia to see the big world story. I've been itching to write about it since!
But I think it makes it more believable if you base stuff on real things... Because it helps you get all the details in. I think it's handy, a little like found art sculptures. Where you take something that exists, and turn it into art.

LoL! I have asked people stuff like that before too, and they are so evil. They know they fuss over their hair to make it as gorgeous as it is, but they seem to think it gives them more credit if they claim it's natural. So not true. And that is hilarious :) Such a great way of incorporating a frienemy without having to worry about her coming after you later. (I know that is always the worry basing a character on anybody, that they will recognize the difference and come after you.)

speakinghands
10-22-2011, 10:27 AM
I don't think a mental shortcut makes it lazy. I learned a little about I think it was monastery towns? I can't remember for sure, little self sufficient towns in the middle of nowhere, where people families would move, and they would all get jobs and work for no money, because they had everything they needed living in this little world they created. I thought it'd make an amazing dystopia/escape from utopia to see the big world story. I've been itching to write about it since!

Oh, monastery towns are awesome! I'm a bit of a history/historical fiction buff. These towns have a great export economy because they make a fabulous and highly coveted cheese/beer/organic heirloom asparagus variety/whatever. The whole town evolves naturally to support the exclusive export by supplying the monastery with every function they'd normally do for themselves so they can focus on their awesome secret recipe export good, which the townsfolk share and reap the benefits of. It's a perfect little capitalist microcosm. Please write about it! I love to read about things like this. (Ken Follett's historical fiction is a good place to start for the organization of this kind of society.)


But I think it makes it more believable if you base stuff on real things... Because it helps you get all the details in. I think it's handy, a little like found art sculptures. Where you take something that exists, and turn it into art.Totally! That's why I described it as a creative shortcut. It's not truly lazy, just creative economizing.


LoL! I have asked people stuff like that before too, and they are so evil. They know they fuss over their hair to make it as gorgeous as it is, but they seem to think it gives them more credit if they claim it's natural. So not true.Definitely. I happened to have been blessed with pretty good hair - thick, auburn, and wavy - but not-so-blessed with a momma and grandma who had no idea how to fix their own less-temperamental hair, much less mine. (I learned how to put my hair in a ponytail at the age of 23. And my head is a little cone-shaped, which means even now, pushing 30, I may have to re-do that ponytail a couple of times before I get it into a semi-decent, non-embarrassing state.) Every once and a while, the planets align and the humidity levels conspire to make my hair look rock-star gorgeous without so much as a brushing. This happens, oh, biannually. Most of the time au naturale it looks like a huge frizzy rat's nest or limp and stringy. And my hair is still awesome compared to the hair of the above-referenced childhood frienemy, whose is extremely frizzy and dishwater blonde 365 days of the year without big-dollar help. But I don't have hundred-dollar-an-hour stylists to make my hair look like Taylor Swift's... I'd say "would that I could" but at least my hair is original recipe. :D


And that is hilarious :) Such a great way of incorporating a frienemy without having to worry about her coming after you later. (I know that is always the worry basing a character on anybody, that they will recognize the difference and come after you.)No joke, especially as this person is (1) actually famous (you may not recognize her name but there is almost zero chance you haven't heard her music on the radio in the last year - God, I perpetually try to avoid her genre and I hear her most popular song at least once a month), and (2) the little sector of the country I am writing within has a very small population but a very large percentage of artists per capita. In short, if this WIP is actually published, there is about a zero chance that the real-life frienemy, upon reading it, would not recognize herself in the biographical details. That's not really important, though. I just have to keep the character separate from the RL inspiration so that I can remain unbiased as a writer - to write a nuanced and interesting character instead of a parody of a real-life person I can't stand.

JessicaJoy
10-22-2011, 11:21 AM
Oh, monastery towns are awesome! I'm a bit of a history/historical fiction buff. These towns have a great export economy because they make a fabulous and highly coveted cheese/beer/organic heirloom asparagus variety/whatever. The whole town evolves naturally to support the exclusive export by supplying the monastery with every function they'd normally do for themselves so they can focus on their awesome secret recipe export good, which the townsfolk share and reap the benefits of. It's a perfect little capitalist microcosm. Please write about it! I love to read about things like this. (Ken Follett's historical fiction is a good place to start for the organization of this kind of society.)

I'm a little bit of a history/historical fiction buff too, not extremely but a little. When I was a kid I used to love these Diary Of series, that were written as if they were the diary of a kid from a historical period. Ah yes glad I remembered right, monastery towns. They are like their own little worlds, and they almost seem like they are just perfect, I'll look at Ken Follett's historical fiction, because the concept just intrigues me. It seems like there would be no crime if everybody was provided everything, except nothing can be perfect, there will always be somebody who wants more.


Definitely. I happened to have been blessed with pretty good hair - thick, auburn, and wavy - but not-so-blessed with a momma and grandma who had no idea how to fix their own less-temperamental hair, much less mine. (I learned how to put my hair in a ponytail at the age of 23. And my head is a little cone-shaped, which means even now, pushing 30, I may have to re-do that ponytail a couple of times before I get it into a semi-decent, non-embarrassing state.) Every once and a while, the planets align and the humidity levels conspire to make my hair look rock-star gorgeous without so much as a brushing. This happens, oh, biannually. Most of the time au naturale it looks like a huge frizzy rat's nest or limp and stringy. And my hair is still awesome compared to the hair of the above-referenced childhood frienemy, whose is extremely frizzy and dishwater blonde 365 days of the year without big-dollar help. But I don't have hundred-dollar-an-hour stylists to make my hair look like Taylor Swift's... I'd say "would that I could" but at least my hair is original recipe.

Lol I'm also pretty naturally blessed with my hair, it's straight, and smooth, and thick. Medium-Light brown (I like to dye it redder). But despite being straight... It takes a lot *lot* of work to keep it from frizzing. A lot of people seem to think straight hair doesn't frizz but guess what, sure does! I also have to use totally organic shampoos because of skin allergies, so that makes life a little more difficult. It's probably healthier in the long run though.


No joke, especially as this person is (1) actually famous (you may not recognize her name but there is almost zero chance you haven't heard her music on the radio in the last year - God, I perpetually try to avoid her genre and I hear her most popular song at least once a month), and (2) the little sector of the country I am writing within has a very small population but a very large percentage of artists per capita. In short, if this WIP is actually published, there is about a zero chance that the real-life frienemy, upon reading it, would not recognize herself in the biographical details. That's not really important, though. I just have to keep the character separate from the RL inspiration so that I can remain unbiased as a writer - to write a nuanced and interesting character instead of a parody of a real-life person I can't stand.

Wow, I want to ask so badly who it is... But I know that's wrong to ask you to call somebody out like that. Unless she is a country singer though, there is a good chance I haven't heard her singing. My parents are fairly extreme conservative Christians and had a "no music that is not Christian" ban. I'm 23 now but I still live with them because I couldn't afford to move out while I was in college. I just graduated though and got a car, and I'll be starting my brand new full time job Nov 1, so I'll be moving out soon. While at college I *started* to listen to some non-Christian music, now that I have a car I have my country stations plugged into the radio. And I'm just starting to explore other stations. So I *might* not have heard her... Sorry that was a long explanation hehe.
I really really want to put a couple people I know into a story, it will be hard to keep them separate, they are some pretty big personalities (some good and some bad) and I can't wait to see how to go about fictionalizing them. (One girl I know, never stops moving, she talks so fast she's always out of breath, she has this amazing thick textured brown hair that barely fits in a pony tail, and she has so many little personality quirks I just can't get over it. Another is a frienemy who spent 85% of the time we spent together criticizing me with almost compliments, you know like, "You'd be really pretty if only" "You'd be really smart if only" that kind of stuff. The stuff that is meant to be mean but sound nice at the same time.)

speakinghands
10-22-2011, 12:15 PM
I'm a little bit of a history/historical fiction buff too, not extremely but a little. When I was a kid I used to love these Diary Of series, that were written as if they were the diary of a kid from a historical period.

I've never heard of the Diary Of series, but that sounds like the American Girl novels. Regardless, the idea warms my cold little heart.


Ah yes glad I remembered right, monastery towns. They are like their own little worlds, and they almost seem like they are just perfect, I'll look at Ken Follett's historical fiction, because the concept just intrigues me. It seems like there would be no crime if everybody was provided everything, except nothing can be perfect, there will always be somebody who wants more.That's pretty much the point of Follett's HF. Though I was just recommending it as a pointer for the monastery towns (which I think are AWESOME! and wish more people would write about them. I mean, it combines utopian dreams and tiny capitalist societies and work-related narratives and all these things that people love to read about... It's not just because I like the beer and cheese that monks produce... ahem) The end.


Lol I'm also pretty naturally blessed with my hair, it's straight, and smooth, and thick. Medium-Light brown (I like to dye it redder). But despite being straight... It takes a lot *lot* of work to keep it from frizzing. A lot of people seem to think straight hair doesn't frizz but guess what, sure does! I also have to use totally organic shampoos because of skin allergies, so that makes life a little more difficult. It's probably healthier in the long run though.Wow, are you like my sister from another mother?


Wow, I want to ask so badly who it is... But I know that's wrong to ask you to call somebody out like that. Unless she is a country singer though, there is a good chance I haven't heard her singing.She is a "country" music singer. There is zero chance you have not heard her "music." I am an alterative/classic rock fan, and I hear her most popular song at least once a week in spite of actively avoiding the country music genre (OK, I do live in Tennessee, so it's basically impossible to avoid). She's only been around for the last year or so. This should make it obvious. But I'm not naming names. I hear her music in bars, gas stations, etc. God, I wish she'd go away. She's trite and insipid. Her family is totally nouveau-riche trashy. They crap on the face of all we southern folk hold dear. Grrr. You can PM me with guesses if you wish.


I really really want to put a couple people I know into a story, it will be hard to keep them separate, they are some pretty big personalities (some good and some bad) and I can't wait to see how to go about fictionalizing them. (One girl I know, never stops moving, she talks so fast she's always out of breath, she has this amazing thick textured brown hair that barely fits in a pony tail, and she has so many little personality quirks I just can't get over it. Another is a frienemy who spent 85% of the time we spent together criticizing me with almost compliments, you know like, "You'd be really pretty if only" "You'd be really smart if only" that kind of stuff. The stuff that is meant to be mean but sound nice at the same time.)God, what gutter sluts. And also: how prototypically southern! My paternal grandmother was a master at the compliment/insult delivery.


I'm 23 now but I still live with them because I couldn't afford to move out while I was in college. I just graduated though and got a car, and I'll be starting my brand new full time job Nov 1, so I'll be moving out soon. While at college I *started* to listen to some non-Christian music, now that I have a car I have my country stations plugged into the radio. And I'm just starting to explore other stations. So I *might* not have heard her... Sorry that was a long explanation hehe.(You have definitely heard her.)

First of all, there's nothing wrong with being 23 (you are like, a zygote) and still living at home. Second of all, there's nothing wrong with being a Christian and listening to secular music, or listening to Christian music even if you don't believe - my favorite bands are Christian (Woven Hand, 16 Horsepower, etc.) and my belief system is shaky. That shit is so irrelevant. Art is art.

JessicaJoy
10-22-2011, 12:51 PM
I've never heard of the Diary Of series, but that sounds like the American Girl novels. Regardless, the idea warms my cold little heart.

They were some of my favorite books growing up. http://www.amazon.com/My-Heart-Ground-Carlisle-Pennsylvania/dp/B000VMIAJ0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319272938&sr=1-1/dp/0590972162
Here's a link to the most notable one, it was the one I liked the least as a kid though, because the author attempts to illustrate the girls broken English in the writing of the diary novel. It meant a lot of crossed out words, mixed up sentences, and 'I don't know the word for's. This could be effective in some stories, but definitely *not* for the entire story, and definitely not in a children's story. It was hard (as a kid) to read, confusing, and frustrating. But it also made it the only one I remember... But in a bad way! But the rest of the series was wonderful.


She is a "country" music singer. There is zero chance you have not heard her "music." I am an alterative/classic rock fan, and I hear her most popular song at least once a week in spite of actively avoiding the country music genre (OK, I do live in Tennessee, so it's basically impossible to avoid). She's only been around for the last year or so. This should make it obvious. But I'm not naming names. I hear her music in bars, gas stations, etc. God, I wish she'd go away. She's trite and insipid. Her family is totally nouveau-riche trashy. They crap on the face of all we southern folk hold dear. Grrr. You can PM me with guesses if you wish.

Oh I'm absolutely going to, I have a guess, and if it's who I think it is I saw her on a prank show once if I remember right and I thought she was a total jerk the way she handled the situation.


God, what gutter sluts. And also: how prototypically southern! My paternal grandmother was a master at the compliment/insult delivery.

Amusingly not even southern, I'm from Michigan and so was she. The compliment/insult is the worst kind of insult too. She was a country girl though, she was bone thin... I was like 5"4 and 115lbs and I was constantly being told "You might be really pretty if your teeth weren't crooked/you lose a little of this chubb/etc" *shakes head* It ruined my whole personal image of my self for such a long time.


(You have definitely heard her.)

First of all, there's nothing wrong with being 23 (you are like, a zygote) and still living at home. Second of all, there's nothing wrong with being a Christian and listening to secular music, or listening to Christian music even if you don't believe - my favorite bands are Christian (Woven Hand, 16 Horsepower, etc.) and my belief system is shaky. That shit is so irrelevant. Art is art.

Oh I know, I love music in general. I love art in general too, and books, I read what is good, but once you start pushing that something is evil it tends to get preachy, no matter what you are trying to push. I have read a lot of bad Christian fiction because it's too preachy, it gets in the way of the story. But I've also ready some books that focus on an antichristian message and I'm always like 'Really? Seriously? You can't just write a good book and have that be enough?'
Some of my favorite bands and singers are Christian, but some aren't. I love TFK, Casting Crowns, Superchick, and Barlow Girl. But I also enjoy listening to Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith and such.

areteus
10-22-2011, 01:18 PM
Generally, when I am reading books I often think 'who could play them in a film of this story'? Which does help fill in the description a little. When I am writing I do think of that sometimes as well (and I see it as evidence that the character has finally clicked - when I can fully visualise them) but I don't explicitly describe them so much as all that - sticking to the maxim to let your readers do most of the work in describing your characters. Sketch them out but leave the details unsaid.

I have seen novels where a character is described as 'looking a bit like...'. For example, Robert Rankin has a sequence where he describes a bunch of secret service goons as all looking like Gary Busey. You can do similar by describing someone as being 'large and muscular, like Schwarznegger', for example, which will give readers who know the actor in question an immediate and strong image of the character. Have to be careful with this, though, as it is a little heavy handed but it can work well as dialogue. i.e. "Tom, oh, he's over there - right next to the chick who looks like Megan Fox"

JessicaJoy
10-22-2011, 01:29 PM
Generally, when I am reading books I often think 'who could play them in a film of this story'? Which does help fill in the description a little. When I am writing I do think of that sometimes as well (and I see it as evidence that the character has finally clicked - when I can fully visualise them) but I don't explicitly describe them so much as all that - sticking to the maxim to let your readers do most of the work in describing your characters. Sketch them out but leave the details unsaid.

I have seen novels where a character is described as 'looking a bit like...'. For example, Robert Rankin has a sequence where he describes a bunch of secret service goons as all looking like Gary Busey. You can do similar by describing someone as being 'large and muscular, like Schwarznegger', for example, which will give readers who know the actor in question an immediate and strong image of the character. Have to be careful with this, though, as it is a little heavy handed but it can work well as dialogue. i.e. "Tom, oh, he's over there - right next to the chick who looks like Megan Fox"

Those are great points, and so true. I tend to be a fan of 'in another world' stories, or fantasy, or historical, (in other words not in our time) so it wouldn't always work (I just had a hysterical mental image of reading a swords and sandals book only to have Morwen La Fey described as looking like Helena Bonham Carter hehe!) but I could see it working really well in any kind of modern placed story. It sounds like a great way to get the focus off describing the character, and back to the story.

Alessandra Kelley
10-22-2011, 05:00 PM
That's a helpful practice. May I suggest casting a wider net, and keeping an eye out for interesting detail wherever you may find it. Celebrities tend to go through the same filter of casting directors, who tend to pick people with similar features; and they may have had plastic surgery to modify their appearance towards a particular ideal.

There are lots of remarkable and interesting people to see out there.

I really wouldn't recommend comparing a character's looks to someone famous. It relies on knowledge which your reader may not have and it dates your work. It's a quick shorthand which alienates readers who aren't clued in, sort of like trying to invoke emotions by referencing a piece of music.

People who don't know who Gary Busey or Megan Fox are in the above examples would be lost. If there's no actual description included, the characters are blank to them. Better far to include a little description.

CrastersBabies
10-22-2011, 07:11 PM
For physical attributes only, with minor tweaks.

I have created "character trees" where I've found pictures for each character (sometimes more than one with a note saying "eyes" or "face shape," etc.) I don't expect people to know exactly who I'm describing, but I use it for my own inspiration, sure.

Sometimes, it's a gesture, a look, a way an actor moves.
Sometimes it's one minor attribute.



=D

JessicaJoy
10-23-2011, 11:10 AM
Alessandra Kelley (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=49122) - That's such a good point, I only know who Gary Busey is because I saw him on Celebrity Apprentice, so I can see how limited that is. I know there is a bit of conflict on whether or not pop culture is appropriate in fiction (due to the fact that dates the piece). It's one of the things that I love about works which create a different world in which their characters exist, it almost makes the story ageless. Of course slang will date it a little.

CrastersBabies (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=54585) - That's awesome, I have never heard of a "character tree" but it's an intriguing idea. It's got to be *great* reference tool, rather than looking up a list of attributes on each character. I actually did something similar for one story, I made a folder of photos where I grabbed random pictures that reminded me somewhat of my character. Then anytime I'm writing for that character, I pull up the photo.

areteus
10-23-2011, 12:58 PM
Yeah, the method does date your work and leave you open to cultural issues. However, it has not seemed to have stopped many published authors using it.

megan_d
10-23-2011, 01:20 PM
I once read a book where the other had a little note at the start saying that the main character's appearance was based off of Elijah Wood. Which drove me really batty, because it stopped me from being able to picture the character how I wanted, and also because it seemed really lazy on the author's part.

bearilou
10-23-2011, 05:24 PM
Absolutely I use physical '*real world' representations to cast my characters. It helps me to visualize them while I'm writing.

*real world meaning anything where I can get an image; so this also extends to artwork, videogames, anime, computer animation, cartoons and cartoon representations...

ViolettaVane
10-23-2011, 05:33 PM
Absolutely! When my cowriter and I write MC bios, we put them in a Google doc along with photos of the MCs. We've based one on Paul Newman circa 1960s, one on an obscure Lebanese model competition winner, etc. We start off with a general idea in mind, find a photo reference and use that for details. We find photo references for settings when at all possible, too.

It's a technique that works for us... I think it's especially useful when you're writing with another person, so you don't start describing your character with conflicting details.

We wouldn't say "so and so looked like Paul Newman circa 1960" within the narrative, though. It's really more for our reference.

scarletpeaches
10-23-2011, 06:08 PM
Absolutely not and anyone who says my NaNo novel's hero bears any resemblance to Richard Armitage is a cad, a bounder and a knave!

ChaosTitan
10-23-2011, 06:12 PM
Totally.

Having a visual image of an actor in my head before writing a new project is a habit left over from my RPG-ing days. I could tell you the entire cast of any of my books. :D

Victoria
10-24-2011, 05:01 AM
I've never casted my characters pre-writing. However, my daughter came to me a few months ago, swearing she'd found the main character in my WIP. When she told me who it was, I actually laughed in her face. She sat me down with some DVDs of this guy's tv series, and within a few episodes...well, I choked down the crow with open mouthed incredulity. She was right, and it really freaked me out. I mean, I'd never watched the show, but even some of the scenes were eerily familiar. Now, every time I think of my mc, I see this guy's face. It didn't change the character or the story, only my perception. I'm still a little freaked, though.

Soccer Mom
10-24-2011, 05:22 AM
Absolutely not and anyone who says my NaNo novel's hero bears any resemblance to Richard Armitage is a cad, a bounder and a knave!

He'd better look just like Dick or I shall feel immensely cheated. :evil

scarletpeaches
10-24-2011, 01:11 PM
I would just like to tell everyone that Soccer Mom is way too ladylike to rep me, "Write moar Dick pr0n!"

areteus
10-24-2011, 01:19 PM
I've always been a cad and a knave but never a bounder...

lvae
10-24-2011, 02:08 PM
Sort of. As a brainstorming writing exercise, I do look at fashion spreads and try to describe the models' appearances to flex my descriptive writing muscles. Some models have uniquely bizarre yet somehow attractive features and it is kind of interesting to brainstorm ways to poetically say: 'If the Beast in Beauty and the Beast was in human form, and female, she would look like this in a most awesome way".

Sometimes, the descriptions kinda stick and I end up using it while I'm writing. I mix it up. :)

Mr Flibble
10-24-2011, 02:14 PM
I would never do such a thing

>>

>>


*takes down pictures over PC*



I think they bought it


Lol. Generally not before I start writing, but as the character comes to life, a face will kinda fit and then, well...

Creative_Solitude
10-24-2011, 03:11 PM
I totally do this. When I picture the hero in my novel, I picture him looking like actor, Boris Kodjoe. Gawd...so hot!

Tepelus
10-24-2011, 04:01 PM
I never really had before because I always have had an idea of what they look like in my mind. For curiosity's sake one day I searched the net for pictures of male Romanian models to see if I could find one that resembled my MC. When I found pictures of Andrei Andrei, I thought, that's him. Almost. Change his hair to dirty blond and some tweaking of his facial features and he's basically my Vlad. Heck, I've even drawn the man from one of his nude pictures because I thought it would be fun to draw him.

Link to my picture in case anyone is interested:

http://tepelus.deviantart.com/#/d4cgsz9

CrastersBabies
10-24-2011, 07:58 PM
Alessandra Kelley (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=49122) - That's such a good point, I only know who Gary Busey is because I saw him on Celebrity Apprentice, so I can see how limited that is. I know there is a bit of conflict on whether or not pop culture is appropriate in fiction (due to the fact that dates the piece). It's one of the things that I love about works which create a different world in which their characters exist, it almost makes the story ageless. Of course slang will date it a little.

CrastersBabies (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=54585) - That's awesome, I have never heard of a "character tree" but it's an intriguing idea. It's got to be *great* reference tool, rather than looking up a list of attributes on each character. I actually did something similar for one story, I made a folder of photos where I grabbed random pictures that reminded me somewhat of my character. Then anytime I'm writing for that character, I pull up the photo.

The folder idea is a great one! It helps me ease into a character before I sit down to write. I love having visuals.

That said, I'm not too worried about how my characters look as opposed to how they act. :) Sure, looks are important, but when I look at my "character tree" I'm looking at them through the author's lens and thinking more about their personalities, etc.

Soccer Mom
10-24-2011, 08:29 PM
I would just like to tell everyone that Soccer Mom is way too ladylike to rep me, "Write moar Dick pr0n!"

Waaaay too much lying in this thread!







Shouldn't you be writing me moar Dick pr0n?

heza
10-24-2011, 08:40 PM
Totally.

Having a visual image of an actor in my head before writing a new project is a habit left over from my RPG-ing days. I could tell you the entire cast of any of my books. :D

Ditto. I still even call them "play-bys," and I fight a near-constant urge to make all my male leads look like Paul Walker.

scarletpeaches
10-24-2011, 10:42 PM
Shouldn't you be writing me moar Dick pr0n?You'll get your Dick pr0n.

Starting a week tomorrow. NaDiPr0WriMo, as we call it here in Scotland.

Devil Ledbetter
10-24-2011, 10:53 PM
Who me? I would never base a character on a younger, hotter version of a celeb, nor use a vintage hot celeb as my avatar.

Perish the thought!

Mainly I do base my character's physical traits on non-celebs I know IRL. But occasionally certain celebs may make an appearance. One thing I would never do though is write that a character resembled this or that celeb. No way. I absolutely hate to see this, especially since I'm often unfamiliar with said celeb a character is being compared to, or the book is older and the celeb has aged badly or been involved in some scandal.

Imagine you wrote a book in the 70s and said your male lead resembled OJ Simpson. Or your female lead resembled Janice Dickensen. Unintended hilarity is never a good thing.

scarletpeaches
10-24-2011, 10:55 PM
Plus, there's the possibility of some burnin' hunk o' love being described as, say, a Tom Cruise lookalike and the reader thinking, "Him? Attractive? Don't make me laugh!"

Barbara Taylor Bradford does this all the time with Cruise, Costner and the like. It dates her books super-fast.

Rhoda Nightingale
10-24-2011, 11:29 PM
Totally. But not entirely. What tends to happen to me is whatever celebrity I'm salivating over at the time will work their way into what WIP I'm working on at the time, in my head at least, but that doesn't always translate to physical descriptions. Those are a mashup.

For example, one of my characters right now is a mashup of Taylor Kitsch, Hyde (see avatar), Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy 7, and this really pretty boy who works at the Starbucks down the road.

Aimless Lady
10-25-2011, 12:11 AM
Sometimes, but it's musicians. Other time I figure out what they look like in my head.

Monkey
10-25-2011, 12:32 AM
I got the idea for a paranormal romance after seeing a picture of David Bowie with a pair of wolves...

cmi0616
10-25-2011, 12:40 AM
A very, very minor character in my WIP is physically based on Emma Stone. No rhyme or reason, I just saw The Help (brilliant movie, by the way) and was taken by her beauty.

But most of my characters, especially the major ones, have always been based, in one aspect or another, off of people I know personally. Friends and family are the people who I know most intimately, so they're usually the easiest to write about.

Kitty27
10-25-2011, 01:09 AM
I totally do this. When I picture the hero in my novel, I picture him looking like actor, Boris Kodjoe. Gawd...so hot!


I have met him at my job. Take me higher,LAWD.

I do it all the time! Check my siggy's,lol.

Shadow_Ferret
10-25-2011, 01:55 AM
No. I base my characters off of people I know and have met. I've never met a celebrity.

Mr Flibble
10-25-2011, 02:02 AM
No. I base my characters off of people I know and have met. I've never met a celebrity.


I may base their personalities off people I know

But their looks...

scarletpeaches
10-25-2011, 02:04 AM
I don't base anything off anything else.

I base characters on celebrities.

Mr Flibble
10-25-2011, 02:09 AM
Pfft, like you don't talk all colloquial like and stuff


:D

scarletpeaches
10-25-2011, 02:10 AM
Hud yer wheesht, you.

thothguard51
10-25-2011, 02:12 AM
Never, but I have based character physical attributes on Fantasy artwork and graphic artwork that I admire.

Mr Flibble
10-25-2011, 02:15 AM
Hud yer wheesht, you.

Dornt fash yerse, pet.

Devil Ledbetter
10-25-2011, 02:30 AM
Sometimes, but it's musicians. I've only ever done musicians.



Wait. That didn't come out how I meant. (But it's almost true, too.)

I love to use regular people I know as physical models. A beta copy of my last book ended up (quite coincidentally) in the hands of the girlfriend of the person I used as the body-model for the male romantic lead. She is absolutely gushing over how great the book is. (And no, I will never tell her who that one character's bod is based on.)

I wish she was a literary agent.

Hmm, that might be an approach come to think of it.

Creative_Solitude
10-25-2011, 02:51 AM
I have met him at my job. Take me higher,LAWD.

I do it all the time! Check my siggy's,lol.


You met him at your job???! OMG...lucky you! I wanna work where you work...lol

The man is SMOLDERING!

EDIT: ok, I just realized you have The Rock in your sig...help me God...

Kitty27
10-25-2011, 03:08 AM
You met him at your job???! OMG...lucky you! I wanna work where you work...lol

The man is SMOLDERING!

EDIT: ok, I just realized you have The Rock in your sig...help me God...


He is inhumanly fine and so nice to fans. I was quite beside myself. I've met Tyrese,too.
He's very nice and gives hugs to fans which =MY.GAWD.

My coworker almost forgot her marriage vows.



My friend Aysh makes my banners. I have a serious crush on The Rock,lol and used him as inspiration for my character.

Shadow_Ferret
10-25-2011, 03:10 AM
I may base their personalities off people I know

But their looks...

I thought we never described anything any more. It was up to the readers to base the looks on/off of whomever. :D

LadyA
10-26-2011, 05:14 PM
My most recent attempt at a novel, (which I've just scrapped), the MC's twin brother was based [looks-wise] on Luke Pasqualino. Yes, I have a large obsession with him, to the point that I sent a fan letter and got myself a hawt personalised signed photo, but I wrote the MC as of italian descent just so her brother could be like LP. It was shameful.

DeadlyAccurate
10-26-2011, 06:11 PM
All the time. I don't say the character looks like actor so-and-so, but I use photos of them to describe them. And once, a guy I saw in a coffee shop became a drug dealer.

Atlantis
10-27-2011, 11:51 AM
I guess you could say I base my character's off the physical features of the characters from Sailor Moon. I am fond of giving them weird features like gold eyes and blue hair. When I think about my stories being made into a flim I often daydream about them being made into an anime film. I love that old school form of animation. I think my stories would work best as an anime film/or show because of my character's weird hair/skin/eye colours. When I think about them being made into a live action film I shudder.

Creative_Solitude
10-27-2011, 04:57 PM
He is inhumanly fine and so nice to fans. I was quite beside myself. I've met Tyrese,too.
He's very nice and gives hugs to fans which =MY.GAWD.

My coworker almost forgot her marriage vows.



My friend Aysh makes my banners. I have a serious crush on The Rock,lol and used him as inspiration for my character.

Lol...after seeing The Rock in your sig, I had thoughts of basing my next hero on his looks and charisma...

Sweet Jesus the man is hot!

Susan Littlefield
10-27-2011, 06:56 PM
No, because I don't describe physical characteristics of my characters, other than a quick phrase or short sentence. Never facial features.