Friday, September 22, 2006

Famous Faces & Characterization

I recently got asked in an interview whether I use famous people as physical archetypes for my heroes/heroines. The answer is I don’t. Even when I read, I make up “new” faces for the characters. But I know authors who are the opposite.

What about you guys? Do you imagine a famous face for the character you’re reading/writing about?

(Doesn't he look all shiny and pretty and clean cut? *g*)


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I cut out faces from magazines but usually not of very famous people. Character of course is a mix of knowns and iamgined unknowns

Anonymous said...

No, I don't fantasize about famous people and I definitely don't want them intruding into my reading or writing. When I'm writing a story I spend a lot of time mentally "painting" the faces of my heroes. And when I'm reading someone else's stories I want to be introduced to heroes that are unique and memorable.

I don't really like pretty boys. Hard, rough-cut, masculine men are nice, but I've found that I'm MUCH more intrigued by the ones who are described as being "not handsome" or who have some kind of physical deformity/handicap.

For example, two of my absolute favourite men from Sci-Fi literature are Miles Vorkosigan (from Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series) and Shan yos Galen (from Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's Liaden Universe series).

Then again, maybe I'm just weird...LOL! :P

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it really helps! ;)

eatrawfish said...

I definately imagine famous people in my characters, makes it easier for me to describe and imagine them. Obviously, I try to make them their own characters as well, but it's a good jumping off point.


Nalini Singh said...

Anon 1 - I love what you said about the mix of knowns and unknowns, because I think each character is perceived differently depending on who is doing the reading. We all take what we know into the mix.

Anon 2 - Oooh, "mentally painting" - such a great way to describe things. Btw, did you know that women are attracted to different types of men depending on the time of the month? *g*

Kendra & Sara - really famous people or just sorta famous people? Or just people with interesting faces? I find that really famous people have too much baggage. I keep thinking of them instead of the character if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Whoops! Forgot to sign my name...Anon 2 was me (Neyjour). Heh. :P

"Btw, did you know that women are attracted to different types of men depending on the time of the month? *g*"

I've never heard/noticed that before. Very interesting! :)

Nalini Singh said...

Neyjour - here's an article that talks about that research. Don't know about their morphed "masculine" face though!

Emma Sinclair said...

I don't usually picture my heros faces, :)

I think they're usually more blurred faces, so when it comes time for me to describe them, I have a hard time.

Occasionally thought, I do see a person and just desperately want to tell a story about them.

Tempest Knight said...

I know of authors who hang pics of models and actors that resemble their heroes and heroines. I tried it but I felt it blocked me. So I just make them up. I mostly go with what I like physically - men with long, dark hair, light-colored eyes, no beard or mustache.

Tori Lennox said...

Generally, no. Except for the one guy who bears a striking resemblance to Hugh Jackman, but he's the exception. The other two guys in the series I'm working on were pretty vague in my mind until one day I happened to be cruising through a modeling agency website and they jumped out at me. :)

Nalini Singh said...

Emma - re the blurry characters - I saw comments somewhere by some readers that they don't particularly want detailed descriptions, because they'd rather make up their own. So maybe less is more? I do understand about seeing an interesting person though, esp an unknown. Then you can make up everything!

Tempest - so do you keep the descriptions general usually?

Tori - I think what you said about the agency pics also ties in with what my comment to Emma - models who aren't that famous can be strangers we can hang our characters on.

Great discussion guys!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I look through magazines and if a face "grabs" me, I'll use that image for my hero, but not always. It just depends on the storyline.

Sara Hantz said...

I try not to, because I find myself turning them into their TV/movie persona and not the one I'd envisaged... if that makes sense!!!

Nalini Singh said...

Hey Mia! Hi Sara (LOL on the morphing characters!) :)

eatrawfish said...

Really late on my reply - but if you're still curious, I tend to go for the semi-famous. I'd never base a hero off of Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt - that seems a little too obvious.

My first hero was loosely based off the weirdness of James Spader (but looking a little more like Michael Shanks, who plays the same role in the TV version as Spader did in the movie version of Star Gate). But like I said, that was mostly a leaping off point.