The Way I imagine my characters

When I start writing a new story the first thing I do, after the basic plot is created, is design my characters. I typically have a basic understanding of what they look like. For example, in Jack & Carly, I based my two main characters on my favorite couple from an old soap opera I used to watch. The actors are Maura West and Michael Park. They were the inspiration for my characters.

In Megan's Story, Megan was easy. I just knew she was Jessica Stroup. I had a harder time deciding who Cole Turner was, but eventually found Logan Marshall-Green.

I have several stories sitting on the back burner. One is a YA that isn't romance but fiction. The two young girls in this story are based on real people so finding pictures of them aren't easy because I see clearly in my head who they really are. So I'm looking around for what I think could represent these girls. I've come up with a young Drew Barrymore and a young Ashley Greene. These are subject to change.

The other story I have sitting on the back burner with a pretty clear plot doesn't have a title or even a working title, but I have a picture for the hero already picked out, though I don't think any of you will be surprised. It's Taylor Kitsch. The heroine in this story has a face but not a thought out character profile. I really like Sophia Bush. I think she's gorgeous. Didn't you all love her in John Tucker Must Die?

So this is how the character development starts out. Since I'm still reasonably new at this I'm learning as I go. Here's what I've learned so far. These photos are great guidelines but mean absolutely nothing. Maura & Michael started out as my characters. The people I was writing about, and while they physical characteristics haven't necessarily changed, the way I see them in my head while I write has. I no longer see them as the characters. The more I write, the more they separate from my original picture and are metamorphosing into something all their own.

So my question for all of you who write, does this happen to you? Do you pick photos for your characters or do you just work with what's in your head?

By the way, HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!


  1. Erika, I usually have a sense of their physical description in my head but I seldom have an actual photo until I'm well into the story. Sometimes, though, it works the other way around. I know Sade inside and out and know exactly what she looks like. Finding a "physical" picture of her is hard.

    The main thing is to find the process that works for you! And FYI? Yes, in the course of writing their story, the characters change and take on lives of their own. :D

  2. Thanks Silver. Sometimes it's hard to find an actual person that matches what I'm seeing in my head. When that happens I don't work with one.

    Thanks for sharing how your characters are born.

  3. I have no pictures for the characters in my first story, my main WiP, the one that got me writing in the first place. I've found pictures of actors/actresses etc. that 'sort of' fit the part but there will never be a person who fits them exactly and I tired of looking 'cause I didn't want to change them in my head with the image of someone who was just close. (I should point out though that I've drawn pictures of these characters 'cause I am a VERY visual person and I do stuff like that - make maps of places in my stories, design jewelry blah, blah...)
    For most of my other stories though, I find a picture of someone early on who I mold into the charater. Having a picture close by when I write just seems to make it easier to get into a character's head.
    You know already what pictures I've chosen for my current WiP - I've got that whole montage saved as my desktop wallpaper and I often look at it when I'm typing :) however - I've modded both images of my characters a bit in photoshop 'cause even though they started out looking exactly like them - yep, they've changed a bit in my head as I've gotten to know them.

  4. I've chosen pics for my characters for years. And a couple of times, I've had to change the pic because it just wasn't working for me.

    Oh, and my characters always become real to me. You should see the character sheets I do. I find a pic first, (I almost always know what they are supposed to look like), then I start writing their backgrounds, likes, dislikes, what car they drive, fave color--- I won't use all the info in the story, but it gives me more on the character I'm writing about. I've been working on character profiles for my current story, and the hero just told me he likes country music. I had no idea!

    It's always awesome when they start talking to me. So yeah...you're not crazy, just a writer. :)