Let's talk characters. If you write fiction, characters are generally pretty integral to your story. You can't tell much of a story without them, right? What are you left with if you subtract characters from the story equation? A setting? Maybe weather? An overgrown castle?
|A Wyoming winter is the setting for one of my books. Kind of boring without characters, huh?|
Without characters, you got nada.
So when you sit down to write a story, probably one of the first things you come up with is who the story will be about. I know that's the case for me. Sometimes story ideas begin with a single character and a what if?
|The first book I wrote was: what if I tried to write a paranormal romance like Twilight, but better, and with faeries? (I wrote the book, it hasn't sold yet. Thinking about indie-pubbing.)|
I'll make copious notes to flesh out the story, adding and scratching out details as the plot takes shape. At this point, the characters are usually just amorphous ideas rather than having any shape of their own. Of course, sometimes I'm inspired to write a character based on a photo I've seen, or an actor portraying another role in a TV show or movie.
Which brings me to casting your books.
How many of you cast your books using photos of actors or models?
I'd guess a great many of you. I know I do. My Pinterest account is full of the results of those casting efforts.
|Inspiration for character of Gwyn in Hero for Hire, our co-authored zombie apocalypse retelling of Snow White.|
Some of those Pinterest pages contain only character pictures, but some are much more in depth and include clothing, setting, homes, food, etc from the story.
|Sweet place to ride out the zombie apocalypse. I can just imagine all of L.A. in the background awash in zombie chaos.|
Aside from the fun of ogling gorgeous actors and models (for hours, because it's important to find the one that's just right), I find that casting my novels helps me focus on the characters and understand them better.
|I have no idea who this guy is, but he's the inspiration for my hero, Isaac, in Gambling on the Outlaw (to be released by Entangled in June 2015)|
|Again, no idea who she is, but she's the inspiration for my heroine, Beth, in Gambling on the Outlaw.|
Human beings are very visual creatures, and we pay attention--and put a lot of value (right or wrong)--in what things look like, including people.
|Kate Beckinsale is inspiration for my heroine, Lydia, in book two of my western romance series.|
So it's helpful to have those faces and other story elements to look back at when I'm crushing my characters' fondest dreams, throwing obstacles between them, dashing their hopes...and then giving them a happy ending (because I mostly write romance, so after torturing them, I have to give them happiness).
|David Gandy is inspiration for my hero, Emmett, in book two of the western romance series (can't you just imagine torturing that poor handsome man?)|
The point of all this is that storytelling should be fun. Even if you do it for a living and it's how you earn your paycheck, you started doing it because you like telling stories, and you like telling stories about people. Those people have to look like something, and the internet and Pinterest have given us the glorious means by which to cast the characters in our stories.
I even managed to cast one of my cats (remember Rufus? I had another ginger tabby before him named Bamboo) in the paranormal fae romance. Bamboo is the heroine's pet and he's just as grumpy, taciturn, and philosophical (I imagine) as the original.
|Bamboo: doesn't he just look like he wants to tell you to fuck off?|
In part two of Cast of Characters, we'll talk about how important names are for your characters, once you have a face for them.
So tell me, do you cast your books? Do you have Pinterest pages loaded with characters, clothes, settings, food, and other bits of your stories? What do you think is the best part of casting your characters?