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  1. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    Envisioning your characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Nicholas C., Aug 3, 2011.

    When developing your characters, do you see them as people you know (personally or celebrity) or do you imagine a person whom you have never seen? It seems that I am inclined to the former. Pretty much all of the story-telling I've attempted has had characters which I have envisioned in my mind to be actors or other celebrities. Strange, but surely not too uncommon.

    Do you think this promotes or stifles (or has little effect on) a character's development?
     
  2. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    My latest characters were created with no relation to real people. Once I had the characters I did play the 'who would play them in a movie version' game and I only had one or two characters than I could cast a famous face to.
    I don't think it matters how you get your character, it just matters that you really get them :D
     
  3. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    I'll sometimes base my characters' appearances on real life, but for the most part I view my characters as drawings, or sketches. They become more clear, and real, the more I develop them, but they're still purely fiction.
     
  4. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Almost all of my characters are created in my head. I don't get inspired by celeberties or historical people.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I create my characters in my head but I typically go with a model of a person I know or a celebrity for their appearance. It helps me get a good idea of what they look like rather than some vague image that the reader will not see an exact replica of anyway. Often enough, they deviate from their actors enough so it's not too big a ripoff.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Wouldn't worry about it as long as it helps you. I can't ever imagine a full human face with all the details - I need a photo, a real person - but equally I find it hard to find the right face, if that makes sense. In short, I end up with no face.

    If you're worried about hindering character development, I'd say my version of imagining NOTHING would be the worst. So don't worry about using photos.
     
  7. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    once iv created a character in my mind i often go looking for a face to match them. and often enough i see someone usually a model or something and im like OMG its them!!!!

    it helps me form a more physical picture of them to aid me when describing them or just learning more about them; as unfortuantly in my mind i can never see them in reall detail. only vage descriptions and colours.
     
  8. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    What really helps me is fleshing out the character's personality first. Where they stand in the story, and what their role will be. For me the looks just flow with the development, like I said, more detailed as I work on it. The problem I always have though, is trying to word what they look like. People have told me that my writings lack detail, and that's because I have the image in my head, but can't incorporate it the way I want people to see it. The result is a vague scene.
     
  9. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    completly agree. thats something i struggle with. except its not just describing what people look like, but describing what everything looks like. because i so want the reader to see what i see. perhaps a little too much - im too specific i guess.
     
  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Physically, I imagine my MC (Adalyn) as looking the way I looked when I was 12/13. She's the in-her-own-world, individualistic yet nerdy reject type. I was that way at that age, too.
    But she's not based off of me. The similarities end there. Her relationships with her mom, relatives, sister, friends etc are totally different than mine were, and she's much more introverted as well.
     
  11. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    ^ like the name Adalyn :)
     
  12. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    This is what I do but sometimes I can't seem to find the right picture and I will end up with a page of picture I've cut out of magazine and catalogs. None of them are exactly right but together they help me put together in my mind what my character looks like.
     
  13. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I made him hot. :p

    But seriously, I kind of got a picture of Alec in my mind... and went with that. He's not influenced by any celebrity looks-wise, as far as I know.

    I don't actually spend a lot of time describing him physically.

    As others have mentioned, I worked on figuring out some of his character traits first and the rest came later.
     
  14. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can always envision my character's perfectly and yes, often, their appearances will be (even loosely) based on someone: celebrities, strangers I see in the streets, random people in the backgrounds of photographs, etc. As long as I don't know them on a personal level then I don't think it's a bad thing as that person's influence on the character will be purely aesthetic; if I used someone I knew personally then I might subconsciously draw personality traits from them too.
     
  15. Dr Guillotine
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    Dr Guillotine Member

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    I tend to use people from my life. Old friends, family, professors who gave me a hard time are all examples.

    When I read the OP, it made me think that I should start imagining the characters as people I've never seen before. To completely create them, if you will. Then again it could be manifestations of our sub-conscious.
     
  16. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    I guess I have a bit of sickening mind. I am the population of writer that's batshit crazy. Anyway, I digress. Characters tend to be made through an emotion and a feeling. But not only that, but a philosophical view. My stories are very stream of conscious since I write in first person. Though not random. Just main characters think a lot.

    I have always been attracted to intelligent equals. So I make my own version of what an intelligent individual would be. Taking not from just examples of the real world like Richard Dawkins, we don't need to get into a debate this is my opinion, but from my own personal world too using my father as an example of what an intelligent being is.

    That and I use my own thought process as well. I use to be one of those bratty annoying honors students.
     
  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always start with an image in my head, only later when I try to define it I cast a celebrity or someone I know , but usually one person isn't enough to cover every aspect, it takes two or three people, with different characteristics from everyone, like: face like a, hair color and -cut like b and then maybe even a C for the personality (or the personality I assign them based on their looks)
     
  18. Ursus_Buckler
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    Ursus_Buckler Member

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    I tried to do mine based on people I knew but found that it just made things unnecessarily hard. So instead I did it with characters I created, but included some of my more hilarious moments that I've had with my friends in real life.
     
  19. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    I tend to create them in my own head, but the depth to which I see them varies. I have a perfect image of one or two of them. The others kind of shift around in my imagination.

    At the supermarket the other day, I spotted a woman and exclaimed (rather too loudly) "Oh my god, she walks just like Elizabeth!"

    It was even weirder than seeing someone who looked like my character. The woman had the same gait and the same sort of mannerisms. Freaky stuff.
     
  20. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    This stuck out to me because I work in a different way: a character comes to me all at once, complete with appearance and a personality to be explored. I don't need to cast someone because I know who they were inspired by almost immediately after they come to mind. The scenes characters are born in appear vividly in my head right from the first time I imagine them.

    I agree that just one person isn't always enough to define every aspect: the love interest of the novel I wrote November 2010~July 2011 matched up to three people: my first boyfriend, Dai-kun, back in school; someone I met in an art class in college; and a musician/actor/boxer/TV&radio host/whatever-other-profession-he-has-now/etc I've admired for years. I imagine I subconsciously drew inspiration from others too but these are the three that I'm concious of. When it comes to personality I believe that's something unique to the character - even combining other people's qualities leads to an original character in the end.

    However, I recently learned that no matter how you try to describe a character the majority just won't see that character in the same way you do - making them so much more original in their eyes even if they don't seem so brilliant in yours. I created my MC and love interest in The Sims 3 recently and showed it to my readers when they asked for pictures, and despite reading parts of the story it was amusing seeing them try to match up who was who. It just showed me that no matter how well an author describes them a reader will always have their own impression of the character so it doesn't matter who you subconsciously cast. Unless, of course, you feel the need to point out that "X looks just like Johnny Depp" in the text itself.

    Apologies if this didn't make much sense/has many errors. I'm not sober but think I'll forget what I want to say if I don't reply now.
     
  21. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    I never base character appearances on real life people. I usually have the character fully developed in my mind before I even try to place them down on paper. Personalities however are a different story. It can make for a more believable character if you base personalities on people you have met.
     
  22. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I don't do the casting thing, but a number of my characters oftentimes may have similarities to characters I've seen on TV or people I know. Generally I'm bad at visualizing details (though I'm decent at visualizing in general), so I may have to steal ideas sometimes
     
  23. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    Good advice. Thank you for that!
     
  24. AurorSeeker
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    i usually make a character based on real people, no matter they're my friend or just i know by reading newspapers or even me myself, cause it's easier for me to develop them without losing their humanity. sometimes, if i not refer to real people's personality, the characters often be a god-like person without bad side, or a devil-like person without good side.
     
  25. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I envision a type of character - the grizzled old man, the young ambitious woman, the stern military commander, the lonely boy with his dog, etc. But these are only vague impressions. When I have one in mind, I become acutely sensitive to pictures, and I page through books of photographs (or more recently, photo albums I find on the internet) and eventually some image will just HIT me hard - THAT'S HIM!!

    I remember writing the first draft of the first chapter of my first novel about 25 years ago. The MC is a grizzled old man. I was in a bookstore looking at the poetry shelves, and there was a volume of Ezra Pound's later poetry that had a picture of him on the cover and it was like a revelation. Piercing eyes, straggly gray beard, creased, wrinkled forehead - perfect! I didn't buy the book, but I still remember the image today and whenever I wrote about that character I had that picture of Ezra Pound in mind.
     

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