Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In My Defense...Just LOOK At Him

I have an excuse for still having posters of stars on my really! When I am writing a novel, I like to have pictures tacked to the bulletin board that sits on the wall in front of where I type.  Sort of directed daydreaming for when my eyes wander from the screen.  I have cut-out travel magazine pages for setting, that sort of thing. 

I do this for my characters too.  I try to find some person, whether its a star or just a super dreamy men's cologne model (you know what I'm talking about) that fits my vision of my main character's description. Intensity, wit, charm, and a certain smoldering look.

For instance, in my new WIP, The Black Adders, I had to find someone that fit the character's inability to shave regularly and yet not look like a homeless guy.  He also had to be able to look you in the eye, lie charmingly, and have you not really care.  For Simon Hale, my disgraced cop turned detective, I chose Eion Bailey.

He seems to have that intensity I'm looking for as well as the best smile ever...he also pulls off the lost, can't quite understand why I'm such a wreck, but I can still talk you into almost anything type of gaze that is just so inspiring.

There is no way...NO WAY, a woman can suspect this guy of foul play for very long. That he's not a stellar decision maker doesn't seem to affect him until he meets the heroine. Who has no patience for his shenanigans. And rightly so. She's smart, savvy, and on to his out!

I try to get multiple pictures with different expressions because it really helps in the action beats of the dialogue. Does he have a crooked smile?  Cleft chin? Do his eyes crinkle at the corners when he grins? Could he pull off brandishing a weapon or would he just look lame? Right handed or Southpaw? 

These all add a believable layer to character descriptions. They may not all come out in your novel, but the more complete an image you have in your noggin the more fleshed-out your characters translate onto the page.

I try to do the same for the female lead. Hair and clothes are more relevant to the heroine in romances. Does she half smirk when she smiles?  Is her chin a tad stubborn? 

My question to you is this...are pictures helpful to you when you write?  Do you have things on your bulletin board that help you see the uniqueness of your characters and setting?  What gives you inspiration?


Roland D. Yeomans said...

I don't blame you at all. It makes me feel better for having signed movie posters of Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie and Enya on my wall! LOL.

Have a great day today, Roland

Misha said...


Sorry what?

Oh yeah!

I tend to keep my characters in my head, but I have gone looking for pictures so that my blog readers get a feel for who I'm dealing with.


Pk Hrezo said...

Oh yum! Yum yum yum! :)

And yes yes yes... I use pics all the time--more so for the male MCs. I have to have that spark so that I can be as turned on by him as the female MC. In order to create that chemistry I have to know EXACTLY what my male MC looks like. Sometimes it's a combination of different peeps' better physical attributes.

For one story I used Sam Worthington almost to a T. But my own version of him... which I'm sure was way better.... ;)

Autumn Shelley said...

I'm learning that I'm a 'visual' writer, so yes, I absolutely have to have photos/pictures around. What is your best/favorite source for all of this? I could spend a fortune for People Magazine and I'm not going to cut pictures out of a magazine (that would just make me look crazy) :)
I've been storing them on my pc but I can't imagine how much space I'm burning plus I'd like to have them on my storyboard. Suggestions?

Laura Marcella said...

Researching pictures of your male protag must be your favorite part of the writing process!

I don't do this because I always have a clear image of my characters in my head. I know a lot of writers do make picture collages. Maybe I should try it and see how it goes.

Kelly Lyman said...

I would keep his photo up even if I wasn't writing!! But, I agree with you. I need visuals too. My current wip, the MCs looks are based off of guy I went to high school with, so I keep checking out his FB page!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Roland - Enya?

Misha - Yeah, that helps me get my point across to my crit partner.

Pk - Sam Worthington...I like. :)

Autumn - I do the whole magazine thing. Something about the glossy really helps.

Laura - It's a chore, but I endure for my craft. ;)

Kelly - That is so funny about the FB page.

Amalia T. said...

So pretty.

I have been known to collect images for my characters as well-- but I never have been able to settle on any one guy. sigh. I just never know what I'm looking for until I SEE it, and searching without knowing what I want to find it hard-- I have the worst time imagining faces, period. It's my failing!

Colene Murphy said...

That is a pretty cool idea, having celeb faces around when writing. Interesting! And what pretty faces they are!!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, he looks VERY good. It's so funny... I don't have that solid an image... or almost never. Sometimes mid book I will see someone and think "oh, they could play them in the movie" but other than a few features and, depending... maybe a sense of style, I don't like to pin down the looks very exactly. I know for romance though, it is far more important.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Amalia - I have a hard time with faces too. Having something to inspire helps.

Colene - pretty people are helpful that way.

Hart - Yeah, romance is pretty clear on what they expect. I do tend to present heroes in terms of how they behave, what they say, and how others react to them more than the "chiseled jaw" thing...but that's because I don't like reading that myself. Although I have been known to sneak in a piercing stare here and there. ;)

Clarissa Draper said...

I could look at him all day too. I think it's a great way to remind you of your character.

L'Aussie said...

Hey Raquel, no fair. Here I was coming by for a quick read of what you're up to and I want to stay all day, hmm, dreamy...I don't really need pin ups, my characters are alive in my head...I have such a vivid imagination, ha ha.

Also checked out your book trailer. I was heaps annoyed at the accent which I found grating, but the trailer was powerful and it is a great way of getting interest in your books. Made me want to read them!


Raquel Byrnes said...

Clarissa - Thats what I keep telling my husband.

L'Aussi - What accent? o_0

Lydia K said...

Funny, I don't use actors to think of my characters...but I may have to, if I need some help in the imagination dept!

WritingNut said...

Ooh.. I don't blame you.. I could sit and look at him all day too! This is a great idea... there are a couple of celebs that look like my characters, but I haven't found any perfect matches as yet :)

Erin Kane Spock said...

Right now I have a pic of Hugh Dancy as the young Earl of Essex on my desktop. My students thought it odd, but he's Percy and Heather Graham is his Jane. In my last book I had a young Julia Roberts coupled with Simon Baker against the foil of Rupert Everet as the Earl of Oxford.
So, yes. I do the same thing.

Erin Kane Spock said...

BTW, You're Simon has piercing eyes. Wowza.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Lydia - Yeah, I'd watch him read the phone book.

Writing Nut - you can take just things you like...a type of walk, funny laugh, etc.

Erin - Wowza...yes. =)

VR Barkowski said...

My genre is suspense/thriller and my protag is a drop-dead gorgeous womanizer - written first person. But the reader only knows this by the way women react to him on the page. His looks are never discussed. I want the reader to fill in the blanks, so no pics. I do keep photographs of all my settings, however.

Kari Marie said...

You know, I haven't used pictures for my inspiration, but your post might have inspired me to check around. I like the idea of seeing a representation of my MC, to remind me about his facial expressions and so forth. I have to decide who it would be.

Elena Solodow said...

When I was writing my second novel, there was an old painting postcard that looked just like my MC. I would always look at it. These days, I just keep the descriptions in my head, but your process sounds like a great way to go about it!

Julie Musil said...

Helloooooo main character! He's a honey for sure! I associate my main characters with certain actors. This helps me visualize them. The characters are my own, but their look has some borrowed features :D

Patti Roberts said...

Hi Raquel. I do the same thing when i am writing. When i have a character in mind i go online and find a pic/face what i imagine the character to look like. sometimes famous faces like Gerard Butler (Dr Sammy) and Eric Banner (Grace's father)in Paradox - The Angels Are Here. I couldn't really get into a character without a visual. It is the best way for me to start bonding with the character.

Michael Offutt said...

Completely hawt. I like your choice of inspiration.

Raquel Byrnes said...

VR - Thats a great device. Cool idea.

Kari - Hope your find your dream MC.

Elena - Thats an interesting idea. I'm writing a historical and might need outlaw looking dudes.

Julie - I know, right?

Patti - Me too. And it totally helps with the facial expressions I wouldn't have thought of.

Michael - Glad you approve. =)

Beth said...

Great tips! I wish I had a book out!

Lynda Schab said...

Love it! I should do this. But since my "work space" is my living room recliner, I'm thinking my family might have a problem with posters of George Clooney (who one of my current characters looks like) hanging on the living room wall. LoL. But I could keep a book of some sort to refer to (often) throughout the day. :-)

Diane said...

Yup, he is pretty stinking handsome!!! :O)