Saturday, February 11, 2012

A different way to 'cast' your characters

Ever hear this? "Pretend your novel-in-planning is an upcoming movie and pick which actors/actresses to cast in the roles of your characters."

It never worked for me. NONE of my characters look like Johnny Depp, or Errol Flynn, or David Tennant. Or Olivia DeHavilland, Billie Piper or Lara Parker.

Besides, the way my characters look and the sound of their voices don't really matter to me. I don't want to fix them by picking some actor to mold them after.

But yesterday I thought of a different way of casting my characters. Ignore the external things like the red hair or the tentacles. Focus on the essence of the character. And pick your model from the fictional characters you know and love.

So--- Private Detective Mary can be Pam the vampire from Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series. Her aunt Anna, a nun, can be Hermione from Harry Potter. Mary's eight year old Chuckie can be James T. Kirk from Star Trek. Her brother Arnold can be Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind.

For more complex characters, you can pick two sources, because sometimes Ralph is like Homer Simpson and sometimes he's like Lord Voldemort.

I've given examples from well-known fiction, but if you are a major Mercedes Lackey fan, pick some obscure character from the Valdemar series if that is the one that captures the essence of your character best.

The reason for this exercise is that when we conceive of a character, we often make him bland and generic. You want to start making the character come alive in your head so you can make him come alive to the reader.

So--- pick one character you are creating right now, and pick a fictional character that might capture his essence. And go from there....


Amanda Borenstadt said...

Sometimes like Homer Simpson and sometimes like Lord Voldemort. ROFL
I want to meet that character!

I kind of did this in Syzygy--not the Simpson/Voldemort character--but with Collin. I kept picturing him like Brendan Gleeson's character in "In Bruges."

In this case I took the essence AND the physical characteristics. If Syzygy is ever made into a film, Brendan Gleeson has no choice but to play Collin.

Nobody tell him, because when my producer and director are sneaking up behind him with the hammer and sack, I want it to be a surprise. :)

nissa_amas_katoj said...

Homer/Voldemort character:

When he casts the Aveda Kadavra spell on Harry and it backfires, he says 'Doh!'

Most of his Horcruxes are donuts.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Most of my horcruxes are donuts too!

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