gentaSome characters are hard to describe. Like the male POV in my second novel. Occasionally, I run into a person who defies my imagination. (A sign of a truly memorable individual.)  After an extensive written sketch of this scary guy, his habits, faults and very bad behavior, I still had only a blurred idea what he looked like.  So, at this point, I searched for a face that intrigued me. I typed in warrior and this  fantastic man appeared.

I‘ll write to this photo and morph him to life on paper.

I rarely use my cartooning skills any more, but sometimes I’ll draw these rare birds myself. There is nothing like the feeling when the perfect spirit rises from my pencil, fully formed and breathing. draft-5_l

For the strong natural locations in my novels I find scenes, download them, and use the visual information to create virtual descriptions. I add a vocabulary list to use while I’m describing these gorgeous places. I was fortunate to visit Bandelier National Monument, and now I’ll transport its beauty to another world. DSCN2098

And, yes, some of my folks and surroundings still come directly from my imagination. On a good day.

How do you mold your people and their habitats? From your keyboard or your pencil? From your dreams?

Images one and two from

Image three from

13 thoughts on “SEE IT BEFORE YOU WRITE IT”

  1. I mold a character best if I’m writing. I find it hard to just imagine a character. Once the words start flowing, it amazes me what comes to light. It doesn’t matter if I’m using a keyboard or a pen.

    1. Hi Kristina,
      Sometimes I’m able to envision a character as I write but, since I’m so visually oriented, I’ve moved to photos and sketches for inspiration just to speed things up.

    1. Hi Jivi, I used for the character sketch. I learned more about this guy than I wanted – just kidding! He’s a really bad man, but I like him a lot. He’s a great conflict generator.

  2. The face always comes to me, and then I hunt down a picture of someone resembling those features. I change them sometimes by outlining and putting in the ones they need. I end up with a board of people with characteristics below them and string lines linking their relationships. It looks a bit like crime board with suspects.

    1. What a great idea, this unusual suspects board of yours. I love it! I’d like to try it. It wouldn’t hurt to have them looking over my shoulder and urging me on.

      1. They really do. I haven’t decided on my new project yet, but when I do, I shall take a photo of my suspects board.

  3. Very cool looking character!
    For me it’s a little bit of both. A character will give me glimpses of him or herself, or even just say something intriguing. I run to my words to write that down. As I write I usually get more details. Then I’ll get another glimpse, and write some more. This back and forth goes on for a while (months sometimes!) until I have what feels like a real person. 🙂
    I rarely work from a photo, instead I have to look for photos that match the picture in my mind. Usually that’s actors and actresses, because I have an idea of how they move and speak as well as what they look like.

    It would be the coolest thing ever to actually be able to draw the people in my head, but even though I’ve studied lots of figure drawing I don’t think I’d ever be skilled enough to do that.
    So instead I settle for words.
    (And I’m going to check out fotor. I love a good photo site!)

    1. Hi Kirsten,
      I understand the glimpses of your people. They remain illusive for a while, don’t they? You mentioned actors and actresses. I’ve seen one man who, in a split second scene, closely resembled the main character in Learning Levitation. It was Patrick Swazey in Point Break. Who knew??
      And, lately, I saw Juan (my muse) as a younger videographer in the The Hunting Party. I nearly jumped out of my chair:) Of course, both character sightings were way after the fact, but they were cool just the same.

      1. Yeah, actors/actresses are cool that way, because they can disappear into a role, and then be something completely different in another movie. So I know what you mean. Grafting a face and a personality together to make a whole new character is one of the funnest parts of writing, I think.

  4. My characters live completely in my head and tend to take over the space sometimes! Then I start typing in an effort to give then their own space and it works. The visuals for the people I need less, but location, I need to see, in reality and photograph myself.

  5. You can never have enough photos for location. Even if I’ve traveled to a particular place, my memory tends to fade or change completely. And, if I haven’t been there at all, photos are essential. If the location doesn’t exist in reality, I’m on my own. Yikes!

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