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#FirstDraft60 Day 10: Your Characters’ Physical Descriptions #amwriting #nanoprep #nanowrimo

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comSorry this post is so late—I’ve been fighting a migraine all day, and it was all I could do to get through what had to be done for my day job before seeking refuge in bed for a couple of hours. Today we’re going to get into what is, to me, one of the most fun parts of prep work—figuring out what our characters look like!

Part 1: Casting Your Characters
There is absolutely no point whatsoever in me repeating what I’ve posted before about casting your characters, so here are the links to the series:

Be Your Own Casting Director—Choosing and Using Real World Templates (RWTs) to Help with Character Development

I use a combination of pinning images of the Real World Templates to my story board on Pinterest, as well as placing reference images on the characters’ pages in my story bible . . . and I also usually set up a PowerPoint into which I save images of the characters—these are typically screen shots of the actors with certain expressions or body language that evoke ideas for my characters’ development or even for certain scenes. Examples of these can be found in the series posts above.

For my current story, here are the Real World Templates for my main characters.

Rick Cosnett as Captain Quinton Ryles

Rick Cosnett as Captain Quinton Ryles

Emma Connell, Template for my Heroine

Emma Connell, Template for my Heroine

Part 2: Describing Your Characters
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to put the full description of each of your main (POV) characters into your story bible, as well as any details you might know about your secondary characters. If you do already have some of this, go back and make sure you have all of it—and see if there are ways in which you can make your characters’ looks more unique.

Create a page/folder/section for each character so that the info isn’t running together and so that they’re easier to find.

Here’s what this part can include for each main/POV character:

Full Name:


Date of Birth:


Hair Color:

Eye Color:

Body type: (stocky, muscular, athletic, full-figured, slender, emaciated, etc.)—from the character’s viewpoint and in others’ opinions, if that’s important

Distinguishing marks/features:


Body art/piercings/modifications:

Repetitive/habitual physical quirks: (i.e., biting fingernails, grinds teeth, pops knuckles, rolls neck when stressed, leg bounces/can’t sit still, etc.)

Include image(s) of the Real World Template for the character if you have them. If not, there’s no time like the present to cast your characters.

Obviously, because I’m running so far behind with this post today, I haven’t had a chance to get started yet, though I do have a little bit of this in mind because I have been working on this story idea for a while. It’s just a matter of writing it all down in this format.

Assignment: Add your characters’ physical description (using the above “chart” or something of your own making) to your Story Bible. Cast your characters, if desired.

What did you learn about your character(s)’ physical appearance that you didn’t know before this exercise?

  1. Carol permalink
    Tuesday, October 11, 2016 8:10 pm

    I’ve got a rough start on this, but the full assignment will have to wait until the weekend when I have a block of time. Hope you’re feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loridee21 permalink
    Wednesday, October 12, 2016 6:24 pm

    This I got done a few months ago! I always have to have a visual of my characters before I can do anything else. Not sure why. From there, I come up with their birthday-then I look up their Zodiac sign and just go from there. All set with putting them in my ‘story bible’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thursday, October 13, 2016 9:45 pm

    I have some of this—because some of it’s no-brainer because of how I use the Real World Templates when I write. But I do like to make sure I add some unique physical characteristics for my characters, so this is on my to-do list for my Friday/Saturday marathon work sessions!


  4. Thursday, October 13, 2016 11:20 pm

    This was fun. My main character is a bit of a tomboy and filling out this information helped me think of ways to show that. Now I just need to work on it for other characters (story of my life).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thursday, October 13, 2016 11:25 pm

    I forgot to say, I’m so impressed with the spreadsheet you use to sort and search for character models with certain physical features. I’m definitely going to borrow this idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:54 pm

    This is my favorite part of planning a story. Getting ready to start it this evening!


  7. Shirley Taylor permalink
    Tuesday, October 18, 2016 6:06 pm

    Yay! All done this one, finally! lol Super impressed with your spreadsheet method and power points!
    The day this was posted I thought I was going to have to recast my RWT of my hero because it was an old image (which was still spot on) but I hadn’t saved his real name so couldn’t find more images of him. So I did lots of searching, came up with a few other possibles trying to find him, cast his mother, the heroine and a few secondary characters but wasn’t happy. Then I stumbled upon another image of him (that I wasn’t even sure was the same guy because hair color was a sandy brown instead of black) that I had saved with whatever came up as the file name when I’d selected it off Google images years ago and decided to search it and rediscovered my RWT! lol
    However, it inspired me to better organize my images and make sure I had their full/real names there for future purposes and today I just finished entering this assignment into my Scrivener file from my notebook and adding images of my RWTs for my hero & heroine.
    I still have no clue how to add images here but I have cast Luca Calvani as my hero and Scarlett Johansson as my heroine. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tuesday, October 18, 2016 6:18 pm

      Oh, wow! I’m glad you figured out his name . . . so that I can add him to my casting book for a potential future character! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shirley Taylor permalink
        Tuesday, October 18, 2016 9:46 pm

        Awesome! lol Yeah, me too, I really wasn’t convinced with my two alternate choices (David Gandy & Alexis Papas). 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Saturday, January 14, 2017 4:33 pm

      If you ever run into this problem again, you can use Google Images to search by image. Click on Images at Google, then click on the little icon that looks like a camera. That pulls up a box where you can upload an image you have (or use the URL of a picture you like) and it will try to find other images similar. It’s usually pretty spot-on in figuring out who someone is or at least finding other pictures of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Tuesday, October 18, 2016 6:44 pm

    This is taking me a while (I’m already 40 minutes over my allotted 2.5 hours for my afternoon writing-work time) . . . I was thinking about re-casting my hero from Rick Cosnett (image in the post) to Luke Roberts (below). But after an hour of looking up images and videos, I think I’m sticking with Rick Cosnett.


  9. Wednesday, October 19, 2016 10:02 pm

    I just wrote this down as one of Quin’s physical quirks: “has a broad smile that invites others to smile along with him, even if they don’t know why.” 😀


  10. Wednesday, October 19, 2016 10:26 pm

    Here’s Quin:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wednesday, October 19, 2016 10:31 pm

      To explain how I came up with some (most) of the mannerisms/quirks—by watching a ton of YouTube videos of him and writing the descriptions down as I thought them while watching him. It was mainly interviews of the actor, so it was really Rick Cosnett’s natural movements and his personality. This is in contrast to the hero of my first Royal Navy romance, William Ransome, who was inspired by/based on/fashioned after the character of Lt. William Bush in the Horatio Hornblower movies as played by Paul McGann.


  11. Saturday, October 22, 2016 1:32 pm

    Characters are formed but I don’t have a particular person cast as any of them. Maybe that will come later.


  12. Sunday, October 23, 2016 4:58 pm

    Finally got the Physical Attributes chart done for my heroine—filled out while watching the documentary where I first came across the RWT Emma Connell (Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed the World).


  13. taylorsl83 permalink
    Thursday, September 27, 2018 3:21 pm

    What software do you use to put the faces/heads of your chosen RWT onto pictures with period clothing? I need to do this somehow! lol


    • Thursday, September 27, 2018 6:42 pm

      I use Corel PaintShop Pro–because it’s so much less expensive than PhotoShop. It’s not the most intuitive-to-learn program, but if you have any experience with anything like PhotoShop, it’s usable and learnable.



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