Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Do my Characters Look Like?

When I start a story project, one of my first questions is, What does my protagonist look like? What does my antagonist look like?Words paint a picture for the reader. "The top of her head barely reached his shoulder, even with the three-inch heels." "He tied his long hair back in a ponytail, making sure it was safely out of the way." "I could imagine him twirling the ends of his mustache like some bad Frenchman in an awful dime store romance novel." Show your reader through their movements (twirling the mustache), comparison (much shorter than he is, even with the heels) or action (tying his long hair back in a ponytail).

I am a visual person and sometimes I have a hard time imagining the character in my mind's eye. A fellow author I know bases his characters' likenesses on actors and actresses, past and present. It gives him a base to build his characters, a guide on how they react to other characters, and a general idea on their personalities. My approach is a bit different from his: as a visual artist, I sketch, draw, paint who I see for the character. Use the approach that is most helpful for your writing.

Here are some examples (all artwork copyright 2010 by A. Dameron):

Holly, a character from
my sci-fi story, "First Duty."

Ramon the Scribe from "The Eye of the Falcon"

Magadalena from "Cantadora"

 Isabel and Morena "Cantadora"

All writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

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