One piece of advice I've heard several times is that to help visualise your characters it is a good idea to find a picture, either online or in a magazine, of someone who looks roughly as you imagine your character to be. I know Sally Q's male heros all tend to look like Sean Bean...
Womag writer and Pocket Novels author Douglas McPherson goes a step further. He's a talented artist, and likes to sketch his characters to help bring them to life when he's writing. Here's his sketch of the main character of one of his recent pocket novels - this is Natty Smalls, who's obsessed with vintage 50s clothing:
Wish I could draw like that! And here's how My Weekly pictured Natty, on the final published pocket novel:
Does anyone else do this? Or have other tips for how to visualise your characters?
Incidently, Douglas has a book entitled Closer! just out with Linford Romance Library - under the name Julia Douglas. He says: "There's a belief in the publishing world that women prefer to by books by women and men prefer books by men. It's why JK Rowling used her initials, so boys wouldn't be put off buying books by a woman. Closer! is a romance, so I thought, if it's good enough JK, it's good enough for me!"