Faceless Characters

I’m working on my first urban fantasy.  I’m not sure how I ended up in this genre, but here I am.  Anyway, I’m finally getting a feel for my hero and heroine.   I know why they act the way they do and say the things they say.  But I have no idea what they look like.

Normally, I have a vague idea of my main characters’ appearance.  Either a real live person has inspired the character or I’ve written the character and later discover a real live person who fits perfect or just enough to help me visual scenes as I write/edit.

So how soon do you know what your characters look like?  Do you need to know what your characters look like before you start writing their story?

Feel free to share the inspirations for your characters.


Filed under Kimberly, writing

6 responses to “Faceless Characters

  1. Usually I allow my characters – viz. thier appearance, personality, and background – to “fall into place” as I write a story. But lately this approach hasn’t been working for me: I’m realizing that my characters come up flat and lifeless. I believe that this is because I approach them as “faceless,” as empty beings that are thrown into situations rather than real people that are placed in context – a writer’s tools, rather than a writer’s subjects. My new strategy is: i) plot the story; ii) write the story; iii) take notes and flesh out the characters; and iv) re-write the story according to the character sketches I’ve come up with.

    This has worked a lot better for me. I used to never take notes on my writing projects; I had confidence in my ability to “feel it out.” Now I realize that this ability does not exist (for me, anyway), and I am much happier with the product when I take this longer, more systematic approach to story-writing – especially as it produces characters that are living, breathing, and faced. Or is it unfaceless? Facelessless? Something like that…


  2. cmtorrens

    A friend of mine browses the actors-seeking-work sites for headshots and uses those for inspirations. I usually just start drawing sketches of my characters until I have something I like, or let them stay faceless until after I’ve written the first draft. By then I usually have a better idea of what they look like.

  3. danieford

    Some of my characters come to me fully formed faces, personalities and all. And I can find real people who may resemble them or have certain characteristics but it’s like cut and paste – this person’s eyes, his hair, his smile.

    Others are more concrete like – Enrique Iglesias esque or Michael Lowry esque. And some are more vague just personalities and emotions and their physical features come during writing or brainstorming scenes.

    If I have an idea of how the character is, his interactions, feelings, emotions, physical attributes but not necessarily features than I can write. So I guess as long as I know them, not necessarily description wise, then I have no problem writing.

  4. Usually I have a a vague idea of what they look like – a sort of general feeling about how they come across. As in tall and dark or short and red-haired. Quite often I see a picture and BAM! there they are. But if I don’t, I write on the vague feeling. It’s mostly enough.

    Same with names. I normally know what sort of name they should have and then I browse lists. When I see the right one, I know.

  5. jodi

    I dunno. I just see them internally. Sometimes later on I’ll find a picture that looks like them, but that’s pretty rare. I think I might be delusional.

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