Thursday, 26 April 2012

Drawing your characters

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!"


15 comments:

Diane Fordham said...

That is a very interesting post. I wish I could draw. I usually spot someone out on the street, at the beach, in a mag or even on the TV and keep their image in my head. :-)

Pat Posner said...

Good post, Womagwriter.
I like to make a sort of 3D map of where my characters live - especially if I'm thinking of a series - I'm so hopeless at drawing I have to cut out tiny pictures of cottages and houses etc.
For the characters I usually find pictures in magazines that suit. Not pictures of actors etc, just 'ordinary' people, or sometimes I'll find just the right image in an artist's illustration to go with a story.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Very interesting post - and I love that drawing! Unfortunately, I couldn't do that but I sometimes imagine a certain actor (and it's not Sean Bean!) or actress as my character, or an image I see somewhere.

Deborah (Debs) Carr said...

Great post and I love that drawing.

Vikki (www.the-view-outside.com) said...

There is a web site where you can create a picture of your character, like the police identikit thing. I haven't used it for ages, but now, I think I'll go find it again. I used it for the characters in my first novel.

Xx

womagwriter said...

Vikki - that website sounds fascinating! If you find it again, can you send me the link? I think other mag writers would love to give it a go....

Nan Sheppard said...

That's a really good idea!

Karen said...

I often imagine actors as my characters, and like Pat I enjoy looking online or at pictures for places/houses/cottages etc. so I can bring my setting descriptions to life.

I like the name Julia Douglas, and at least he's kept his own name in there! I could do that if I wanted a male pseudonym, as my surname is Clarke.

Clarke Kent, perhaps? Oh ...

Suzanne Jones said...

I admire anyone who can draw. My drawing is very much like my singing, the verion in my head is perfect, but it just doesn't translate to the real world.

XX

Suzanne Jones said...

Or the 'verSion' even... Chocolate stuck under the keyboard. Should have stuck to the diet.

X

Jill Paterson said...

How wonderful to have the talent to draw your characters! I have resort to seeing someone in a crowd, on a train, or on TV etc.

womagwriter said...

Wish I could draw, too. A smiley face is about my limit.

Lydia said...

Most of my characters are Paul Newman or Patrick Swayze in my head! But mag pictures help too.:)
www.lydiajones.co.uk

When I am Rich said...

Yes, I have a collection of photos cut from magazines and newspapers but I only choose 'ordinary' people - not celebs.

Sally Quilford said...

Honestly, it's not like I'm obsessed with Sean Bean ... ;-)

Seriously, I find using actors and actresses as templates for your writing makes it much easier to remember what your characters look like. There's less risk of describing them as blonde on one page then brunette on another. And yes, I've done that...