Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Have You Ever Met One of Your Characters?

When I create a character, I get a general impression in my head of who they are and what they look like.  Throughout the creation of the story, their appearance doesn’t change much, except to maybe come into sharper focus.  I think I tend to "see" actor-types as the characters in my stories because when I'm writing, the plot plays out like a movie.
Because Finding Meara, my first completed novel, is written in first person, the female lead character (Hazel) didn't really have a face to me.  She had a personality all her own, but the "I" point of view put me in her head, so it wasn't like I ever "saw" her.  However, the other characters all have their own actor whom they resemble.

Rodd is the relationship character to Hazel.  He teaches her about sacrifice.  In my head Rodd looks similar to Matt Bomer, the actor who plays Neal Caffrey in the USA television show, White Collar.  If you want to see a picture (I'm not about to post it on my blog because it's pretty much a given it's copyrighted) go here.  Picture No. 5 is the one that matches closest with the Rodd in my mind.

Last spring I dropped by Little Cesar's to get a pizza on the way home from work.  The man in the back making pizzas came to the lobby to offer me help getting my pizza out to the car.  He opened the door for me, I looked up into his eyes and my eyebrows shot up almost off my forehead.

He looked exactly like Rodd.  I kid you not.  

Crystal blue eyes, square jaw, dark hair -- he had it all.  I thought he was a little short, but over the last six months (we do Friday Night Pizza at our house) I have come to find out he is sufficiently tall to pass for Rodd.  I can't tell for sure how old he is, but he looks to be around the same age as Rodd.

The embarrassing part of this story is my reaction.  It's lucky we like pizza in my house, because I love to look at this poor guy.  So amazed at the similarities, I think in the beginning I might have stared...a lot.  It's not like he's been hiding in the back when I come in (at least I don't think so--I hope not) but I think he's probably noticed that I tend to look at him when I'm in there.

I don't want to make him uncomfortable, but dang!  He looks like Rodd!  And Rodd is such a neat character. He's wise, and handsome, and moral.  It's not that I think this guy has those traits (although he has demonstrated being helpful and polite), but he's like a physical representation of that character I got to know and cried over when he died.

I've confessed my staring issue with some non-writer friends, who think I'm nuts.  They can't understand why I'm worried about what the pizza guy thinks about me.  The truth is, I don't want anyone to think I'm some sort of cheating cougar, you know?  What else is this guy who is at least ten years younger than me, if not more, supposed to think of some married middle-aged woman staring at him.

As misunderstood as I may be, I keep going back to Little Cesar's.  It's the best pizza in town.  I just try not to stare as much... Or at least not get caught doing it.


Have you ever met a person who looks like your character?  How did you handle it?

39 comments:

  1. Oh, this made me laugh. I haven't run into anybody that reminds me of any characters yet. But that's interesting about what you said about Hazel not having a clear face--I understand that too, and with my current WIP, the main character doesn't either.

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    1. I was afraid I didn't Hazel because I was putting myself in there, but I'm happy to report that with The Age of Stars, Iris looks like Mary Stuart Masterson. ;) It's in third person, though!

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  2. Funny post! I've never *met* a character - yet, but I can see how it would be kinda freaky!

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    1. I didn't ever conceive of such a thing. How would anyone look like someone in my mind! Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. What a FUN post... Oh my... hilarious... you should SOOOOOO tell why you stare at him... he might even be impressed and hook you guys up with like the employee discount :)

    However, he may NOT believe that Rodd was on the scene first... and that you do have the hotts for Rodd :)

    Too funny :)

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    1. I agree. You should tell him. He'd probably be flattered. At least he'd know why you stare, freeing you to do so all you want.

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    2. Here's the thing (besides Mark's astute comment that he might not believe that Rodd came first!) Doesn't "You look just like a character in my book" sound so much like a bad pickup line? However, the employee discount would be a plus!

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  4. This has never happened to me. I imagine I would react about the same way you did! I would tell pizza guy. He might be embarrassed, but then again...

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    1. He seems nice enough! He might not mind. :)

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  5. I have "met" Lexie Lightfoot from my Saucy Lucy mystery series. It was at a small cafe in northern Wyoming, much like where my books are set. She was exactly how I envisioned her to be. What did I do? I stared, but tried not to let her notice.

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    1. How funny she was even in the environment in your books! Of course, Rodd lives in the fantasy side of the book, so probably anywhere would be weird to find him.

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  6. Yes, I think I freaked out a girl on a train once. She was the perfect embodiment of a character in one of my stories. I kept staring at her making notes.

    And, uh, you're likely to get asked out by the pizza guy if you're not careful. :PP

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    1. Yeah - I better be careful. I've only thought he'd be grossed out because I'm so much older than him. I guess the opposite could happen... ;)

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  7. I've had readers tell me which actors and actresses look like my characters, and some of them aren't bad matches for me. I was struck by a model in the catalog Garnet Hill who is the exact image of one of my primary female characters (not my MC). But, alas, I've never met one. I think I'd stare, too!

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    1. Did you cut out the catalog picture? That's another thing. I have pictures on Scrivener of actors who resemble my current characters - Mary Stuart Masterson, Hugh Jackman and Alex Pettyfer. I'll pull them up in a side window when I'm writing a scene that involves them, especially the men because it's hard for me to stay in their head. So, I'll be typing away, Alex Pettyfer shirtless on my screen, and I have to wonder what the heck my husband is thinking!

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  8. "my eyebrows shot up almost off my forehead." LOL! Sooo funny. I can imagine how you felt, it would be a shock for me, too-- but I've never met anyone that resembled my characters.

    I draw characters from my mind, then later find there is an actor or actress that nearly fits the part. It makes sense, their faces are so public. I wouldn't be surprised if perhaps the choice was subliminal of my favorites. I pull quirks from real life friends, and acquaintances, but there is something that feels too invasive for basing a role on someone I know well. I know I'm in the minority with that, though.

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    1. I'm with you about using actors/actresses instead of people I know. I've only done it once and when the man came to visit where we worked together in the spring, it was so weird. Made me a believer to not use people I know.

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  9. Ha! This has so happened to me before too! I sat there staring at this kid in Walmart and kept thinking, Holy crap, I've met one of my characters. Wardrobe and all, lol. I probably looked like a creeper.

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    1. Isn't it so bizarre? I guess I should be glad my characters are adults!

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  10. I've never had this happen, but since old men sometimes enjoy staring at much younger women, you've given my an idea for what to say if I'm caught. lol

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  11. I think it's a neat coincidence that you've run into a person who looks so much like a character from your novel. It seems pretty unlikely I'll do the same, at least for my current project. They tend to look like actors from Chinese action movies, and I don't bump into them as much as I would prefer :)

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    1. Yeah, I suppose if my characters had ethnicity besides Italian, it might be a little more difficult to find them where I live, too. :)

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  12. I wasn't thinking of ethnicity so much as their actual likenesses. What are the odds of me running into someone who looks like Jackie Chan or Michelle Yeoh. On the other hand, maybe it's about as likely as running into someone who looks like an imaginary character. Interesting... :)

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    1. You are right - Jackie Chan has a pretty unique face! It would be much harder to find someone who looked like him. Michelle Yeoh is so pretty!

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  13. What a great story! I've met people who resemble characters in my mind although I never saw them more than one time but there was staring. I know what you're saying. I don't think non-writers would get it!

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    1. They seriously looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I'm feeling so much better now, since I know there are others out there who "get it!"

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  14. LOL, that's funny. As for your question, I do have some characters who in my head look like certain famous people. But others, i have never seen before in an actor/singer/whatever. At least not that I remember.

    I read once that it's not possible to dream of someone you've never seen with your own eyes (even if you just caught a glimpse of them in a crowd or something, and don't remember it consciously). Makes me wonder how a writer's imagination works. Is it POSSIBLE for us to create characters with faces we've never seen before? Can we take bits & pieces of different people we have seen, to make someone new?

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    1. That's interesting about not being able to dream of someone you've never seen. I would think our imaginations could pull different facial features together to make up a new character, because of the feature that allows us to predict and create new options (ie. new ways to get to work if the detour is down). I can't remember what exactly that part of the brain function is called. I don't know! I have read only a limited amount about imagination.

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  15. This is great! I have never met one of my characters, but I often see people and think, "He/she would make a great character."

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    1. It seems like the world is getting more and more filled with unique characters, too. Or maybe, as writers, we just are in tune to each person's individual story.

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  16. I love this post! Cracked me up! I'd have the same reaction - and I'm no cheating cougar either. :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad to know I'm in good company!

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  17. This totally made me laugh, Lara. What a surreal moment!

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    1. It's a surreal moment every time I go into Little Cesar's and he's working! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

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  18. Not only did I see a guy who looked like a hero in my book, dressed the way my hero dresses, he ACTUALLY SAID A LINE I WROTE. This was at a booth at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. He was wearing black jeans and a leather jacket and had black, curly hair. He said to the woman he was with: "When did you get so pretty?" I think I stood there a full minute with my mouth open. Luckily, he didn't see me.

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    1. Yeah, having the words I wrote come out of the character look-alike's mouth would be bizarre!

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  19. Hi,
    I meet all of my characters. They usually introduce themselves to me and I even have conversations with them. Especially when I write something that they would not say. They let me know it.
    Nice article.
    Ciao,
    Patricia

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    1. Well, at least they let you know their opinions, and they have their own strong personalities. I bet you don't worry that they aren't diverse enough! :)

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