Thursday, February 24, 2011

Found Him

Note: Special Thanks to the Hollywood Spy himself, Dezmond for my super-awesome new header up there! Isn't it gorgeous??? I LURV it! I feel very official and cool now~
I wonder if anyone else has experienced this... (I've learned recently that when I think I'm the only writer something's happening to, five other of you are having the same thought, experience, issue, whatever...)

Well, most of you know I completed a light-historical YA romance last fall set in 1890s-ish New Orleans. Well, as I was writing it, I kept running into this issue: I never could get a good picture in my head of what the primary male love-interest looked like.

He was just sort of this faceless image in my head.

I knew he was tall, I knew he had dark blue eyes--a color that reminds my MC of Louisiana Iris, the state wildflower. I knew he had medium brown hair, I knew he was muscular from working on a farm in Ascension, but he wasn't beefy.

I gave him an intentionally over-the-top Old South name: Beauregarde Faire. But everyone calls him Beau for short. (Also intentional.)

He's 17 years old, and he sets out with a small inheritance from his dead father (killed in the War of Northern Aggression) looking for adventure--not romance. Wine, women, and song.

Mishandling of his money lands him broke, working in a cabaret-slash-(secret) bordello as a stage-hand, where he meets the star of the show, my MC, also 17.

Naturally he falls in love with her. Who wouldn't? I always knew what she looked like--long brown hair, hazel eyes, petite, slightly olive-complected thanks to her runaway Creole father.

I always knew what the ringleader of this little circus looked like, as well. I got the idea for his character (and the working title of the MS) from a song.

The chain-smoking, piano-playing, velvet-coat-wearing, abuse-hiding composer, who was our leading lady's first kiss and her first love, until he confides that he plays for the Other Team was always clear in my head.

I always knew what the bane of my MC's existence looked like. The little orphan who's her love, her heart, and the one who drives her to the lengths she takes to protect the unofficially adopted child. (She's my oldest daughter, Catherine.)

But the face of my swoony Ascension native, who was raised by a mysterious "old gentleman" after his mother died and his father was killed, was a mystery to me.

He's innocent, fresh-faced, frustrated (and surprised) by his inability to control the object of his affection. He saved her life, he knows she has feelings for him, but she refuses to act on them.

Our MC has her mind set on marrying a rich Parisian expatriate and moving with him back to the richest street in the City of Light, with her little copper-headed waif safely in tow.

The signature dialogue between MC and Beau, when he discovers they're the exact same age, goes like this:
B: "Why you're just a kid like me."
MC: "I have never been a kid like you."

sigh. Those two.

He gets his poor heart ripped out and handed back to him by her. He even sheds a few tears of which he's horribly ashamed, but don't think less of him. He's learning...

Then my Entertainment Weekly came last week, and as I was flipping through the pages, I nearly dropped it on the floor. There he was! And it all clicked in place. Now I can fill in the blanks.

Critters, fuss no longer! I give you Beauregard Faire of Ascension. [Note: Photo removed due to copyright concerns.]

True Confession: This post is really an ode to photographers.

Those witch doctors the Indians believed could steal your soul with the little boxes they used to capture your image.

I honestly had no clue who this fellow was, and I didn't care. Since learning his name, I've looked at a few other shots of him, and none of them capture Beau's personality in my mind.

So there you have it. Photographers, man.

Now, am I the only person who's ever written an entire novel without knowing what a main character actually looked like?

And why does this even matter so much? I have a good feel for his key features, background, and personality, after all. You think this phenomenon is genre-specific? Or just me-specific?

So yay--I found him! Have a great weekend, reader-friends--I'm ready to get back in there and start revisions. Til Monday~ <3


Unknown said...

Is that Henry Cavill? Omg swooooooon. In his rougher state he filled in for (my) Gavin so many times.

You'd have to watch Tudors to see the connection though. :) Not the brightest of characters.

vic caswell said...

ohmygoodness!!!! YES!!! my characters faces morph as i write and get to know them more. BUT one of the ones i have the slipperiest grips on is named Beau as well- HOW WEIRD IS THAT!?!?!

Old Kitty said...

Yowza!!!! Your pictorial representation of Beau is gorgeous!! Mega swoon!

To this day one of my character's face in my current wip remains very very hazy. I'm yet to find a concrete picture of him!!!

Oh but I found my female protagonist's face!!! And she works as a cashier in waitrose. She really had The Look. I can picture her as I'm writing this and she is most definitely my female mc!!!

I think it helps me to actually see the people I've created. I think that's why I'm struggling at the moment with my wip. The guy whose face I still can't see doesn't seem real - not yet anyway!! But the woman - because I know what she looks like I could just write about her non-stop!!!

Take care! Have a great weekend and thank you for sharing a little of your wip here!! Very very interesting!!!


DEZMOND said...

Are you saying that you haven't seen Henry Cavill like million of times before at my site? Even though Dezzy is like his main worldwide, maybe even intergalactic, PR?

If I lived million years I wouldn't know how to pronounce - Beauregarde Faire :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

SO glad you found your Beau....

I generally have a very clear picture of what my characters look like, but sometimes one or two might be a little fuzzy around the edges.


PK HREZO said...

Don't feel bad, I've never seen Henry Cavill either, except on Dezzy's site. lol

He's a hottie. And I LOVE the name Beauregard Faire. Awesome.

I've written stories without knowing exactly what my MCs looked like... I didn't think it was really important, other than the basics. But that last few I've known exactly what they looked like, and I think the stories are better because of it.

Laurel Garver said...

I have a really hard time working with characters who remain faceless. I feel like I'm in a dream where the melted-head guy is chasing me and my legs don't work. I usually work on other aspects of research and outlining and planning until the right face finds me. Hats off to you for being able to progress without having a character fixed in your mind.

LTM said...

LOL@you guys. It's possible I saw this guy on Dezzy's site, but seriously. I've seen other shots and been, "Mer. Nope." It's something about that expression--that all-American grin... Poor thing. :D

but you're right PK, the ones where I know what they look like just fly off the pen for me. I think it's being able to see their expressions or something. Dunno. <3 Thanks~

Kittie Howard said...

WOW! I can see clearly now...yay! Purrrfect!

Charlotte Rains Dixon said...

I usually have a pretty good idea of what my characters look like from the outset. If I don't, I leaf through catalogs or magazines and see if I can't find someone to emulate. The thing that I absolutely have to get straight before I write is settings. Weird, huh?

LTM said...

@CRD--not at all! I think the truth is, the more we have nailed down in our heads before we start, the better/faster it goes. At least that's been my experience. Thanks! :o) <3

Talli Roland said...


I never know what mine look like. I have a vague image... but nothing concrete. I kind of like it that way - but my editor doesn't! She's always asking WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?

Hart Johnson said...

I often have a few characters who stay a little vague--I nearly never have REAL people who are what I have in mind. I can come up with a 'sort of this', but visual isn't my strength. (I don't notice details, either, really). I ALSO don't want such a heavy handed description from the author that i can't use my imagination--I like to fill in the blanks with my own mind. (I hate hate hate real people used on book covers. Ruins that piece for me)

Summer Ross said...

Wonderful news! I have not experienced what you refer to but hey if you know all the important parts does it really matter otherwise. Great post!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Hmmm...I think he fits, but it's not who I had in my mind. I was thinking of someone like Ryan Gosling with dark hair for some reason. Younger, of course.

And Seyhan - my dearest Flat Stanley - was exactly the kind of dilemma you describe. Until I figured him out, nothing else worked. Remember?

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

ooo, nice pic. I suspect a lot of writers can't "see" their main characters ;)

Unknown said...

LOVED THIS POST! Sorry I've been so distant love! How are you?! We must chat! I want to know how the writing is going!

Obviously good if your character is starting to morph to be so freaking HANDSOME!!!!

I love when my characters grow as I write them... when I start, I let them do all the talking.

LTM said...

@Summer--you're right, but at the same time, there were funny little details I couldn't describe b/c I had no clue about expression, etc. Now I feel like the blinders are off~ Yay! :o) <3

Julie Musil said...

LOVE Beau's name, and the photo is gorgeous. Now we'll know who to picture when we read your published book some day!

I have a generic idea of what my MCs look like, and I attach it to a celebrity during the first draft. Heck, maybe this person would play the role in a movie some day. A girl can dream, right?

Dez, great job on the blog head. Love it!

Lydia Kang said...

Congrats on finding your swoonworthy male protag!

I'm already loving the interaction between the two characters.

erica and christy said...

You're not alone! erica did a post on this not too long ago. She had the same issue! For me, I can't picture my female MC! christy

Stina said...

Wow on Beau!

I have an image of my characters in my mind, but that's because I created a collage for the keys ones for my current wip. It really helped. I felt they were in the room with me when I wrote my first draft. :D

With my past novels, I didn't have the image because I never looked for pictures of them. Some of the characters were clearly pictured in my head (usually the mc), but not all of them.

Love the banner. :D

Colene Murphy said...

HA wow! That sounds awesome!!!
Yea, it has happened to me a lot. I Know what they look like, like you said, but never can picture them exactly like that. AH well! I don't think it means anything.

Congrats on your beautiful new banner!!! JEALZ.

Morgan said...

I actually never really see my characters fully formed because I'm always trying so hard not to make them carbon copies of real people in my life. My characters end up being a bunch of puzzle pieces in my head-- this friend's eyes, that actor's hair, a nose like my uncle...etc. So I understand the frustration. But I'm so glad you found your Beau! That is a great picture. Good smile. =]

Ellie Garratt said...

First of all, the banner is stunning. Secondly, your love interest is hot. Great choice.

I'm beginning to get an idea of how my characters look but I really do need some visual inspiration. I must start looking!

LTM said...

Hey, Morgan! Yeah, carbon copies = bad. But it helps me to have a concrete image in my head when I'm writing character interactions. I can *see* the scenes better. Even this guy isn't really my guy--it's just helped me see a face now, which will improve description. Nice to see you back~ :o) <3

walk2write said...

He's a little too "hunky" for my tastes (just kidding). You're right that we need an image in mind while developing a character, but why not have a drawn or painted portrait to inspire rather than a photograph? I can't draw a stick man properly, though I do have a few artist friends who probably wouldn't mind humoring me when the time comes.

Ella said...

I love your new banner; Dez rocked it~ It really looks clean, precise and inviting~

I don't know, I will let you know, when I begin. Thinking of joining a
Writer's Group next month. I just need to get a bit braver.
I can see it happening, like a shadow. YOU see the basic characteristics, but he is always
in the shadows, a bit out of focus.
So glad you zoomed in on him today and this is it! Sounds like a great book; Can't wait to read it....xXx

Matthew MacNish said...

The banner looks incredible! I love the mirror effect. Well done Dezzy.

DEZMOND said...

thanks, Ella, thanks Matthew, glad you like the banner as much as Leigh does :)

nick said...

Nice title header

Anonymous said...

I developed my female assassin after Jessica Alba. She would look just like her. Other than that, the other characters just sort of developed as I went along.

LTM said...

@Nick--Thanks to Dezzy~ :D

@Stephen--I remember that! And that's more how my secondary characters develop also... :o) <3

Scarlett said...

Ooh, Henry Cavil! He has many looks about him. I imagined my hero after the way he looked in the later series of the Tudors. I am so OCD about particulars that I HAVE to have the physical features planned. My thought process is unable to proceed otherwise. Um, now I want to read your book.

LTM said...

@Scarlett--you just might have to o that... :D <3

Jessica Bell said...

LOL! I STILL don't know what my mc looks like even though I've described many of her attributes bit by bit. The image constantly changes in my head scene by scene! :o)

Jemi Fraser said...

So glad you found him! I have images in my head, but the faces are always fuzzy - just like the faces in my dreams. I've gotten used to it so it doesn't bother me any more :)

Angela said...

I'm sure you're not the only one. I think there are more important things about a character than their physical descriptions. Their background, issues, dialogue, personality to name a few. I have a hard time picturing people in a tactile way when I read novels. I see them more emotionally.

Al said...

No, you are certainly not the only one.
Some of my characters I can see from the moment they introduce themselves. Others aren't nearly so cooperative.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Leigh .. love the header - so appropriate ... good for Dezmond!

Oh .. the thought of writing a novel and then having this man in my head all day and everyday - too much of a good thing?! Love the say you set everyone's hearts tingling .. fun -

Thanks - I shall be dreaming Oscar men?! Cheers Hilary

LTM said...

@Hilary--my pleasure! And you bet... I was particularly interested in Jude Law last night~ :D