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Character Development for Visually Oriented Writers; or, Be Your Own Casting Director (Part 1)

Monday, September 22, 2014

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?

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?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Be Your Own Casting Director complete series:
Part 1: Character Development for Visually Oriented Writers; or, Be Your Own Casting Director

Part 2: Be Your Own Casting Director: 4 Methods of Character Casting

Part 3: Be Your Own Casting Director: Creating a “Casting Book”

Part 4: Be Your Own Casting Director: Using Real World Templates in Character Development

Part 5: Be Your Own Casting Director: Isn’t This All Just a Big Waste of Time?

* * * * * *

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  1. Judy Canterbury permalink
    Monday, September 22, 2014 10:00 am

    I keep a binder in which I post the pictures of my characters in the order in which I have them enter the story. Yes, this changes from time to time, and I have been known to ask a character a few questions. I keep a binder so that if I am working away from home, my pictures easily go with me. I also have pictures of settings and a wardrobe section. I have to see it in order to write about it. Thanks for this post. It will assure my husband that I’m not becoming feeble minded. 😉


  2. Tuesday, September 23, 2014 1:42 am

    Love this post, Kaye! This is so me. 🙂 I have a bulletin board, and folders and cast sheets and more for everything from characters to setting and location. And casting the right character? Glad to know I’m not the only one that takes so much time doing that. It is more than just a pretty face, somehow by the time I’ve found the right person, I’ve learned who they are, their history, their sense of humor… 🙂 RWT rock. It just makes sense to me that as a reader that ‘sees’ a book in my head more as a running film than words on a page or a voice in my ear, that I would also write visually too.



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