This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Find Your Characters as You Create Them

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I'm a visual writer. This means that I see my characters, the setting, and watch the story unfold in my mind as I write. It's like I have a movie playing in my head.

By the time, my publisher asks me to fill out my book cover information with images that represent my characters, I've plowed through the story and finished the first draft. I know my characters intimately. This makes it harder to find images to represent them, since they are their own people. No one seems right. Just because an actress has blond hair and blue eyes, doesn't mean she looks enough like MY character to choose her. There are millions of people with blond hair and blue eyes and all of them are different.

To make matters even more difficult, sometimes my publisher will need the form filled out and returned in 2-3 days, or over the weekend. I end up spending hours browsing photos until I get a headache and then I solicit my husband's help. Often, he has also read the story and will be a huge help in weeding out people. 

Right now, I'm starting a new story. This time around, I'm searching for the right image as I create my characters. I'm not too emotionally attached to them, but I do have a vague sense of them. I don't know why I haven't done this before. Now when I get my book cover form from my publisher in six months, I'll be ready with my character images already selected. 

After going through this process several times, I would suggest finding your characters as you create them. 

If you're a writer, how do you select your characters? Do you manage the leg work at the beginning of the process or at the end? Do you feel like you need to know them better before you can select images to represent them?

4 comments:

Thanks for sharing this post. It is interesting to me to see how you develop your characters for your books. So far I have written all non-fiction books, so my characters were already developed, but who knows one day I may write a fiction book and need to know how this is done. Blessings on your new book. Deborah H. Bateman-Author

Deborah, You're welcome. I'm sure you will one day write a fiction book. I think the fiction bug eventually grabs most writers--at least once in their lives.

Blessings to you, too!

Not being a published author, I have not experienced the same character selection issues. I do however see the story unfolding before me (as a movie). This has been difficult to watch at times, as one of my characters went through a very difficult time.
Thanks for sharing.
Mark

Mark,

Yes, the difficult situations are tough. I've actually cried through writing some of my scenes before, but that is when you know you're really into that character's mindset.