Sunday, November 27, 2011
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!
Do you have trouble picturing your characters? Or can you imagine the expressions they might wear during a particular scene? Imagining our characters as if they were in a movie can help us make them come alive. Before starting the writing process I develop what I call a “Character Collage”. I thought I would explain this tip so you can use it in your own writing journey.
What is a Character Collage? To put it simply, it’s a collection of pictures I gather relating to my characters. I usually do this while I’m plotting my novel and brainstorming my character’s personalities. It really helps to solidify who the character is and what traits they have.
I approach finding the pictures several ways. Either I have an actor or actress in mind for each character and then I search google images and find a picture of that particular person. Or, most often, I only have a vague idea of the kind of person I want to play each “role” in my novel. So I begin searching for someone who fit’s the image I already have in my mind. Since I write historical novels it’s very helpful if I can use an actor or actress already in period costume, even if it’s not the exact era in which my novel is set. One of the first places I check is, “Enchanted Serenity of Period Films”, one of my all-time favorite period drama sites. I go to the index of period dramas where there is a huge data base of almost every period movie available, both British and American. Most of these also have a summary of the movie and a few pictures of the major characters. I start clicking on each movie and looking at the pictures provided, seeing if any of the actors or actresses matches what I’m looking for. Usually, I manage to cast most of my minor characters this way and sometimes my major characters as well. If this site fails to produce what I’m searching for and I still have some “un-casted” characters, I usually turn to Internet Movie Database, where I can search actors and actresses by name, or by movie title. Most of the time, they have at least one picture per actor and if I find an actor/actress I like, I can use google images to find more photos of them. A few other options are using characters from television shows as models, although finding a lot of pictures of a character who appears very little in a T.V. show might be difficult. Also, using models of people you know personally is another idea, but you might want to get their permission first.
Searching for that particular picture that feels “just right”, is a lot of work, so I would suggest carefully studying the characters in the movies you watch, even the minor ones, as you might want to consider using them for future novels. I try to find pictures for every character, including secondary characters. Major characters (usually just my hero and heroine), I like to have at least ten different images, showing them in different poses or with different facial expressions. For secondary and minor characters, one or two photos will suffice.
After I have gathered the images, I either make a collage on Microsoft Paint, print the photos, and tack them onto a bulletin board, or copy and paste them onto a Word document. Then they are available when I need inspiration. Another fun thing I do is make desktop wallpaper by pasting a couple of favorite images onto Microsoft Paint and adding a background. Thus, whenever I turn on my computer, I have my characters staring right at me. This really gets my creative juices flowing.
These are only a few tips, and I’m sure there are many more ways to accomplish character casting, especially if you write contemporaries. I hope you found some of these ideas helpful, and if you try them, they make your writing take on a whole new dimension.
Your Turn – Do you cast your characters? If so, do you have any tips to pass on to all of us? I look forward to your comments!
COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS - WEEK - 5
This week we are giving away the book "Where Lilacs Still Bloom" by Jane Kirkpatrick. This book is an Advanced Readers copy as it does not release until April 2012. Included with this is a three pack of Bible Study Notes notepads to use during church or during your own scripture studies. This book and notepad set would make a great christmas gift or something for your own enjoyment. So once again, leave your comment and email information.
Congratulations to Jackie, last weeks winner of the Love Inspired three book set. Next week we have a Love Inspired Christmas book by Gail Gaymer Martin and a Christmas cookbook to give away, so stay tuned.
Posted by Amanda at 2:17 PM