1. MatthewOliverGrey
    Offline

    MatthewOliverGrey Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    3

    Thinking of an actor when writing.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MatthewOliverGrey, Jan 4, 2014.

    My question is, is it a bad idea to have an actor in mind when developing a character or can it stop the characters development or the creation of them?
     
  2. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,821
    Likes Received:
    2,379
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Depends. If the actor stays rigid in your mind and you're bending the writing to fit whatever you've seen the actor do than yes, your characters won't develop.

    Back in the 90's when I was writing my first major novel my hero WAS Johnny Depp and my villain WAS Charlie Sheen. But I hit road block after road block. When I finally ditched the restrictions they could become themselves Dexter and Charlie ( Yes, I named my villain after Charlie Sheen - lol ) Dexter retained nothing of Johnny Depp as he began a rigid, yet frequently flummoxed amnesiac while Charlie retained a bit of Sheen as a charismatic bastard. But I eventually stopped looking to the actors and even their looks began to change.

    I now use actors as a stepping off point - it's okay to picture say Jennifer Lawrence but my heroine has to be more than a shadow of her - especially since there could be 10,000 other writers out there doing the exact same thing.
     
    jannert likes this.
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Whatever floats your boat. I personally would find that limiting. But if it helps firm up your conception of your character, "gopher it."
     
  4. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I've used actors for their physical appearance (makes it easier writing action scenes for me) but I've never based a character on the actual person.
     
    jannert likes this.
  5. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    If by that you mean you visualize the typical on-screen persona of a specific actor, because it fits the persona of a specific character, why not?

    But if you mean visualize yourself watching them act the scene, I'd say to be careful. It's attractive to do that and then record the action in the scene we're viewing, but that's a trap to avoid, because the result is report-like and devoid of emotion. It also tends to promote a wish-dream scenario. I'd suggest getting into the mind and senses of the protagonist and tell the story from the inside out rather than the outside in. It's much more personal and emotional that way
     
  6. hvb
    Offline

    hvb Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    I like a reminder of what my character look like. I've got a timeline, so I search for actors born in whatever year my character was born, then search for one who has the appearance I feel is right for my character.
    The personality of the actor doesn't come into it. It is more like: if I would choose an actor to play this character, this is the one. I put the picture in the character file in Scrivener.
    Maybe it shows my imagination isn't as strong as that of others?
    The other thing I might do is, for example go online to pick a house for my couple from the houses for sale. Again, put the picture and details in their personal file. I find that lots of fun.
    Even describing a particular room, I go online and pick a carpet, or a desk or other furniture that suits my story and my character, put it in...yes you guessed....their personal file.
    Hetty
     
  7. hvb
    Offline

    hvb Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia

    I don't do that, but I cannot see how that is a trap as long as we create the emotion. Like writing a screen play...
    You don't get the actor to write the scene, well, not usually, do you?
    Maybe that's why so many actors like to direct and act in a movie...
    Hetty
     
  8. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I don't think the result has to be "report-like and devoid of emotion". I've read many successful authors compare their writing to "taking dictation", "following the characters around", etc. Whether the writing is boring or involving depends on the writer, not on their modeling method.
     
  9. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,778
    Likes Received:
    7,291
    Location:
    Scotland
    I think your character and setting-building methods show a great deal of imagination.

    I think many of us use prompts - either conscious or unconscious ones- visuals, audials, whatever - that spark story connections in our heads. I've personally never used actors or actresses, but I have often used real people I know as models for my characters. I disguise these people a lot—sometimes even changing their gender —but they are the spark that sets me off. By the end of the writing, they certainly differ in many respects from their 'real' models.

    Same with locations. Whatever gets your imagination flowing. If you set your characters in motion inside a room that's 'real' in some other dimension, then all sorts of good things can happen. You will give yourself more reality to work with, and this will show in the finished product. You'll avoid the cliches that can sometimes arise when people just 'think things up.'

    I'm minded of that stereotyped house that children usually draw, when asked to draw a house. You know. Square. Door in the middle. Windows on either side. A chimney with smoke. Maybe a path leading to the house. A tree outside. Clouds, sun, the lot. Give them the picture of a real house to draw from instead, and you'll get an entirely different, probably much richer and more unique, result.

    'Real' prompts can make for a richer writing experience, because you're not only using what is already inside your head (pure imagination) but are getting input from outside yourself as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
    hvb and Okon like this.
  10. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    I usually start with myself in the role. For my scripts, "Ro'shaan" started as a daydream where I was the MC. Eventually, I phased myself out and put in Dante.

    As for an actor to play Dante, I'll leave that to casting.
     
  11. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I have done that for one story, but in my case it was just the physical appearance. I find it helps to have a "face" to go with the character when I write them, if I don't see them clearly in my head.
     
  12. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    A report always is devoid of emotion bacause it's fact not emotion-based. It's author-centric and that means an external viewpoint But readers don't care what the author sees happening in the confines of their head. Listing the elements and actions in that scene only informs. But knowing that the scene was very real and exciting to the author, and why, hardly entertains. That's why readers want to experience the story in real-time, on a deeply emotional level. They want a horror story to fill the with dread, and a romance to make them horny, not learn the details of the author's experience.

    One could say: "The dragon moved toward Jackson, slowly, and the stink of it made it hard for him to concentrate as he searched for a a way out of the situation." That tells the reader precisely what happened, from the narrator's POV. Or, we could say something more in the protagonist's POV, like, "The dragon moved inexorably closer, clearly in no hurry. Shit...now what? There was no exit strategy because there was no exit. And killing that bastard seemed as probable as stilling the tide with a word. He mopped his brow with the back of his hand, wishing the stink of its breath wasn't making it so damn hard to concentrate."

    Your imagination—your personal POV—can make the story absolutely real for you. And the vision it creates results in words that list what you visualized. But does that simply provide an overview of what you saw or does it give the reader the scene as realistically as the professional actors would play it—if only the reader could have seen it as you do? That might seem to be a reason to chose known actors to "play" the part of your characters. But suppose the reader never saw the film you based your choice on? :eek:
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i don't see it being a problem in writing prose, any more than having an imaginary person in mind, when describing a character would be...

    but it's definitely not recommended when writing screenplays, or stage plays, since that will hamper the director's ability to cast the part... which is why newbies writing spec scripts need to keep characters' physical descriptions to a minimum, specifying only what traits are necessary to the plot...
     
  14. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    But I'm saying it does not have to be written like a report. What you're talking about is not what the author is seeing in their head but how they write it - and that shouldn't even have to be brought up in this discussion. Of course it has to be written in a way that holds the reader's attention - that's kind of a DUH, isn't it? Hell, they could make up a character completely in their head and still write the story like a report.
     
  15. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    And I'm saying be careful it's not, because too many new writers, when they talk about visualizing a character are planning to describe what they see that character doing. That constituted nearly fifty percent of the manuscripts I received.

    I think we're on the same side here.
     
  16. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Only for physical appearance. For example, my opening chapter narrator, Zoe, I picture looking like Anne Hathaway. My MC, Alesia, is a little more difficult to tag with an actress because she is a basically based off my late fiance, but I guess if you could say she was close to anyone it would be Gretchen Wilson (the country singer.) I envisioned Liam Nesson for their father, and Sally Field for their mom. Odette Yustman for my MC's girlfriend
     
  17. Renee J
    Offline

    Renee J Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    463
    Likes Received:
    214
    Location:
    Reston, VA
    I pictured an actor for one of my main characters while coming up with the plot. When I actually write the chapters in his POV, I'm inside his head. (The character, not the actor.) I have trouble visualizing the actor's face when writing. The character has evolved.
     
  18. ConnorackCarolina
    Offline

    ConnorackCarolina New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Port Royal, South Carolina
    I tend to base my characters off of actors and actresses, but only in terms of physical appearance.
     

Share This Page