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Character Development for Visually Oriented Writers; or, Be Your Own Casting Director

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Does your computer monitor look anything like this?
Characters + Monitor

Do you have a wall or bulletin board in your house like this?
Characters + Wall

Do you get a story idea and immediately start one of these?
Characters + Pinterest

Do you have files on your computer like this?
Characters + Files

Have you ever sneaked a photo of a complete stranger?
Characters + Sneaky

You might be a visually oriented character developer!

Let’s back up a minute for those who aren’t . . .

Character Casting goes deeper than just finding images of people who look like our characters. Those of us who are compelled to find Real World Templates (RWTs) for our characters are looking for inspiration—for emotions, actions, and body language in addition to how they look. We use RWTs as one of many building blocks for character development.

Just like every other way of character development, we are looking to create characters who jump off the page as real, whole, alive PEOPLE. Character casting gives us tools we use to connect the reader to the story in a way that goes beyond just describing what a character looks like. The characters are the active part of the story—they are what give the story emotional resonance, whether it’s a romance novel or an action thriller. Characters are what make the reader care what happens in the story.

But this blog series redux isn’t really about taking characters to that level.

For the next week or so, we’re going to look at what, to me, is one of the most fun parts of developing a story: casting my characters and then finding as many images of the Real World Templates as I can so that I can use those to generate ideas about who the characters are.

Do you cast your characters?

If so, how do you cast your characters?

  1. Sunday, November 17, 2013 10:45 pm

    Casting is loads of fun. I’m nowhere near as into it as you are, but I do have my Pinterest boards and when I find actors who are my characters, they get pinned. Current hero is Kevin Ryan, Francis from Copper. Heroine is Daniella Ruah from NCIS:LA.

  2. Tuesday, November 19, 2013 6:55 am

    0h thought I was the only one who did this! I guess the saying is true, nothing is new under the sun…My challenge is… I love the way I described a character’s son looking so much like him. Now I am going through pages of online actors pictures, for a man in is fifties. who is a total stranger, or not, who looks like a man in his thirties! I also love finding mixed races characters…my MCs right now are, Drew Van-Acker (Pretty little liars) and Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha)


  1. Casting | TamBorgia's NaNoWriMo

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