When I create a character for my books, I use pictures of people I find on the Internet. It helps me be consistent when I mention eyes, hair, height – the basics. I don’t often do detailed descriptions in my books because when I read I like to imagine what the character looks like myself.
How describing a character goes
It’s generally pretty easy to describe a character when you write in a third person point of view, that’s when the book is narrated by someone who is not a character. The challenge is when the character is telling the story. And, most of my books are written in first person point of view. When I need to describe a character, I have to do it by having them look in a mirror or glance at themselves in some other reflecting surface. It doesn’t always work well. Most of my characters don’t spend a lot of time in front of mirrors.
For Charity Deacon, I tend to just let her tell the reader what she thinks about her looks. For Quinn, it just doesn’t come up.
Should an author tell the reader what the character looks like?
I don’t think so. The best thing about reading a book, at least to me, is using my imagination. I visualize the character the way I want them to look. I do that with everything in a book. So when an author goes to painstaking effort to find a way to tell me what the character looks like down to the last freckle or crooked front tooth, it gets in the way of me using my imagination.
But you can’t just have blank avatars running through your book
True, but I think you need to know some general things about the character. Charity is a bit above average height and is slim. She has dark hair and it sits long enough to tie back if she needs to get it out of the way. She can tell you that her friend, Lu, is taller and slimmer and more elegant and Asian. She can describe herself in contrast to Lu.
Most of my characters will describe themselves in relationship to other characters. That way I don’t have to make them vain enough to check themselves out in a mirror for the second it takes to tell you the color of their eyes.
To be honest, I do cast my characters when I start writing.
I need to put a person in the shoes of my character until that character becomes real to me. Charity started out as Sandra Bullock – the Speed version. Sam Barton in Closing the Circle started out very much like Booth in Bones. No matter who they are to begin with, my characters become individuals to me very quickly.
I really want you to be able to put yourself in the character’s place if you want. So I give you enough to carry you through if you want to follow my vision, but not enough to get in the way of your imagination.
What do you prefer?
Enjoy mysteries? For Charity Deacon, a private investigator with a nose for trouble, curiosity is just a way of life.
Like wizards in trouble? Quinn Larson is a wizard. His life in the shadow world of the Vancouver Real Folk is a quiet one, and he’d prefer if it stayed that way.
Time for a romantic fantasy? The prophecy that will save them rests on her decisions, but can Madeline accept her new purpose in a place so far beyond everything she’s ever known?
Don’t care for series? Mystery, Science Fiction and more to come.