1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you can't picture a character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Aug 14, 2015.

    Hola!

    So in my current WIP, there are several characters. Many of them aren't important, but there are a few who are. And I'm at the point in my writing where they are being introduced... and I have no idea what they look like. It's just not something I pictured while planning them -- or I once had a picture of them, but as I developed the story further, the appearance I saw no longer fits their personalities.

    What do you do in this situation? Hit up Pinterest and find someone that could fit them? Just use Google? I've never had this problem before, so I'm not really sure how to sort it out. I have many characters I can't see, though only three are important.

    Any advice would be appreciated. :)
     
  2. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Video games are your friend. ;)

    Seriously, sometimes what I'd do is boot up a game with a detailed character customization (say...Saints Row the Third) I then create the character that I feel will fit the name given and take a picture of it. Or I play as that character and role-play what he/she'd do in that given situation. To tell you the truth, some of the characters in my fantasy are based off the physical appearances of a few RP characters I made when playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Helen Chert, my sci-fi protag's physical appearance is based off of the appearance I had for Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect games, with a few slight alterations.
     
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  3. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    I use The Sims Character creation in the same way. That way I can make a few different versions and seeing them all together helps me decide which one looks best. It sounds silly but it works.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly.

    Oddly enough, the character creation in both Oblivion and Saints Row have done wonders for my characters, especially the latter. I create a character, run to a clothing store and pick out the clothing he/she would want to wear in his/her own universe. I even go pick out and customize a vehicle that he/she would drive, pick out the sort of music he/she would like via what the game offers. It's...surprisingly helpful. :D
     
  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think you need a physical description at all. I don't know what of any of you look like, yet I have representations of you all in my head, based just on what you say here.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I hesitate to ask how you imagine me as. :p
     
  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I pay artists to draw them. Might sound weird in response to not being able to picture them but sometimes an artist is nice and will work with you bouncing ideas off. Since you can give a personality they can make suggestions. Sometimes too the picture will look better than it did in your head. Other times it will look worse but that way you know it needed work or the artist sucked and suppose. I been collecting art this way for years so I got like 20+ pieces :)

    Not sure if that helps but it is what I do.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ash Ketchum from Pokemon
     
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  9. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    I used Oblivion and The Sims Character creation as well :) Funny how these tools appeal to writers, isn't it?

    There are also various other tools which allow you to create characters for free, like MMORPGs. I am not good at drawing myself. But I like to have a face in mind when I write, otherwise I tend to be very vague on the details of their appearance.
     
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  10. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    I've taken to drawing out some of my characters too as well as using The Sims. I find I can write better if I can physically see something in front of me. Sometimes my imagination is just not clear enough. Perhaps you could try rough sketches, or even just think of actors in movies that you've seen and change their appearance to suit your character.
     
  11. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've used the Sims to create my characters that I already pictured.. But I never thought to use it for characters I can't picture. The randomize button will probably be my friend. :p

    I suppose it isn't necessary that I know what they look like. I honestly don't plan on describing them too much. I just wanted a little something to tell people.. "She had large brown eyes and thick hair framing her face. She may have been pretty if she didn't scowl all the time." Something like that... Plus, it's weird to imagine scenes from my book, only to have the characters I can't picture look like big gray blobs of nothingness. lol

    Thanks guys! I'll try the Sims. :D Maybe that'll help.
     
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  12. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Dear God.
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Is this me? :supertongue:
     
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  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Personally, I don't provide much description for my characters and I tend to enjoy books where authors don't provide that much, either. So as long as I have a grasp of the character as a person, I don't care whether I can picture them in my mind or not.
     
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  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have been and always will be an owl.
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You are, and always will be, just a number. :)
     
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  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I am not a number, I am a free man!
     
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  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Bam. Random character attribute generator. In anime and non-anime styles as well.
    http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=generalperson
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Kind of like Puss in Boots.
     
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  20. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Sometimes I go to DeviantArt and browse around the photography categories (too much anime in the traditional art, too many horse manips in the digital art) or the stock photography categories to get inspired. I don't usually end up using any actual picture as a reference, more like I compile a list of traits I like for one character or another in the my head and jot them down in the notes. Even if the physical description doesn't make it into the book, or is just vaguely referenced, it does help me to picture a person and not an amorphous blob.

    ETA: This method isn't great for my current WIP, where my character is sort of Native American looking. If your character isn't white or asian, dA might not be the right place. Maybe I'll try the CAS method as mentioned above.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    He's a complicated one. I picture myself going into a law firm in sunny L.A. Behind the desk is a suit and the face of an innocent black cat staring back at me.
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I never wear suits if I can avoid it. Last week I had boots and jeans on and spent five hours in an onion field :)

    But my quote was from The Prisoner!
     
  23. EricaJRothwell
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    EricaJRothwell Active Member

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    I pretty much always have, at least a vague, idea of how my characters look, even side characters. I really like the ideas some of you have given here about using the sims, I play the sims for fun...oddly, I've never thought to use it for character visualisation.
     
  24. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I once read about an author who purposely left out all character descriptions when he handed in his manuscript, just to see how his editor would react. Strangely enough, the editor didn't notice and in fact, when the author asked him to describe the MC, the editor described himself.

    I rarely, if ever, use any character description unless it's absolutely necessary for the story... which it rarely is. Of course, I've yet to be published by the mainstream press, so take this with however many grains of salt you feel make this tidbit palatable.
     
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  25. Pheria
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    Pheria New Member

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    I'm very precisely with my character descriptions, physically and mentally.

    Mostly, I imagine features I really want them to have and browse these on Pinterest. Eventually, I rarely describe a person on one picture, but take my favorite features out of some photos and build them into my character. It seems to work so far :)
     

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