Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Character Casting Call

Good morning, Seekerville! Myra, here. One of the most fun and interesting parts of beginning a new story, at least for me, is discovering who the central characters will be. Even with a general premise or story problem in mind, I won’t get very far until the characters start coming to life in my imagination.

Of course, there are lots of ways to get to know your characters. Some writers like to do in-depth character interviews, asking all kinds of probing questions. Others free-write autobiographies and let the characters describe themselves. Still others create detailed lists about the character’s background, physical characteristics, and personality traits.

I use all those techniques at various times and in different combinations. But ultimately, what helps me most is pictures. So when I begin to flesh out a character for a new book, one of my first steps is browsing the Internet for character photographs.

Sometimes I may already have an idea of what the character will look like, and I’m ready to cast a known celebrity in the part. For my upcoming novel When the Clouds Roll By, I could already see Anne Hathaway (pre-Les Mis haircut) as my “leading lady.” So I typed “Anne Hathaway” in the Google search box, selected the “Images” option, and up popped hundreds of photographs.

"Annemarie Kendall"
Next, I searched for poses in which Anne’s look most closely captured how I envisioned my heroine, a young ceramicist in 1918. So hairstyle mattered most, and attire came in a close second. I downloaded the best 3-4 photos to my computer and saved them in my Scrivener character file.

The search for the hero and villain took a different tactic. All I really knew was that the hero was fair-haired and the villain was dark and brooding. (Okay, yes, a bit stereotypical--so sue me.) For my hero, I Googled “blond male actors” and came up with several websites to browse.

Here are a couple for your viewing pleasure:



After taking my time (oh yeah!) perusing these web pages, I knew my hero had to be Simon Baker.
"Chaplain Samuel Vickary"
Then, as with Anne, I looked for images of Simon that would best fit how I pictured him as a World War I army chaplain. Naturally, there were no exact matches where clothing was concerned, so I concentrated on facial expressions and body language.

In casting some of my previously published novels, sometimes I had only the vaguest concept of what the character might look like, and my imagination needed a jumpstart. In those cases, I’ve used stock photography sites like Getty Images, istock,  and Bigstock.

On any of these sites, you begin by entering some basic search criteria. Maybe you know your heroine is between 25 and 30 years old. Does she have long hair or short? Curly or straight? Do you know what color? Start making choices and see what the search engine brings up.

Once I get my selections narrowed to a manageable amount (could be hundreds!), I just start looking at pictures until one jumps out at me. This is how I found my characters for Romance by the Book and A Horseman’s Heart.

After finding an image that appeals to me, the next thing I do is look for other photos of the same model. Sometimes there’s a link below the photo for “similar images.” You can also click on the photo, then scroll down to click on the photographer’s name, then search the collection for other photos of this model. Seeing the same person in a variety of poses, costuming, and settings can spark all kinds of ideas for characterization, story scenes, or even plot twists.

Let’s walk through a search example. We’ll use Getty Images and type in “blonde woman 25-30.” Here's what we get.

On the left side of the window, you’ll see ways to refine your search, including number of people in the photo, more age refinements, ethnicity, concept, etc. In the search box, you can also type in additional criteria and ask to search within the current results.

For the next step in our example, let’s refine our search to include one person, adults only, one woman only, caucasian. That brings us to this page.

Now let’s narrow it even further. Skip down to “Composition” and choose “looking at camera.” Still a lot to choose from, so go back to the search box and click the button for “Search within,” then type “short hair.” Now you should be down to only a couple hundred results.

I like image #138311420, which for me is on row 6 on this results page. When I click on “similar images,” I find a few more photos of this model

Next, let’s click on one of those images to find the photographer’s name and click on it. Here’s where we are now.  As you can see, the photographer used the same model in several different settings, including with other people. Any story ideas bubbling to the surface as you browse through these?

Please remember, these are rights-protected images. Unless you purchase them, you do NOT have the right to do anything other than look. If you copy them to your computer for personal reference, the image will appear with a watermark in the center. For my purposes, that’s okay. I just need the visual inspiration to help me know my characters better.

If you choose to join one of these photography sites, you can purchase credits to use the photos that suit your purposes. For instance, you might want to use some of your character photos to create a book trailer. Smaller-sized images usually work fine, which is what I used when creating the trailer for One Imperfect Christmas. Just be sure to read the fine print concerning which rights you are purchasing and the restrictions on usage.

When I’m ready to look for character photos, the Internet has definitely spoiled me. In the “olden days,” I often browsed through catalogs and magazines, clipping out pictures of interesting people of all ages and saving them in a “Future Characters” scrapbook. Sometimes just looking through your own or someone else’s family photo album can spark ideas.

Do you have other sources you like to use for character images? Let’s talk!

~~~ ~~~ ~~~  
Myra will give away winner’s choice of one of her Heartsong Presents “Horseman” books to one lucky commenter on today’s post. Just mention in the comment section if you’d like to be entered in the drawing.

A Horseman's Heart 

A Horseman's Gift 


A Horseman's Hope 


  1. Myra,

    I've done the internet searches for photos, but I still search through magazines and catalogs. I think I must be on every catalog mailing list in the country, so I have plenty of them. I also use them for clothing descriptions.

    The coffee pot is ready.


  2. Hi Myra,
    I love my phone because of the camera feature. I take photos that I can use for my books and download to my hard drive. That's a huge deal for me! Thanks for the info about finding photos. I'd love to be in the book drawing.

  3. Awesome post.
    I love looking for pictures of my characters on the internet. I could "cast" my whole book and take hours and hours if I wanted to. :)
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Myra,

    It is fun looking for pictures that capture your characters! For my upcoming release Bleeding Heart, I also liked to try and match them with actors for their role in certain movies - their personality, circumstances, emotional reactions, etc. - beyond just looks (although matching looks are great, too!).

    Here's where I think that Pinterest can be super fun and helpful! (I've recently been swayed to the dark side, LOL.) You can find images, give a description of why you think they match your characters, pin them with links back to the original site, and voila! Eventually you have a board full of images that can help readers visualize your story better (not just characters, but also settings, quotes, etc.). Here's an example of the one I've put together (what it looks like so far):

    Bleeding Heart Pinterest board

    Would love a chance to win one of your books Myra - thank you! :)



  5. I spent one entire day working on 'fleshing out' my characters visually. I had a wonderful time doing this. You are right Myra, the internet makes it so much easier. Thank you for all the links.

    Have a blessed day.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  6. Hi Myra,
    Like Lyndee, I use my phone a lot to take pictures. But then my kids wanna know why i have all these pics of handsome male actors! Think Stephen Amell dressed up as his character on Arrow. ;)
    Seriously, having photos really help to visualize the characters. I take a quick peek at mine before I write each scene.
    Thanks for the interesting post!

  7. Myra, what fun! I love developing characters and then putting a "face" to them when I do cover work.

    Until then I don't look because I see them internally, but when it comes to covers I hop/skip/jump onto websites (or beg Seekers for advice) and find images to fit my mental visual...

    HELEN Thank you for the coffee! Love it! And we're baking today because it's cool and rainy again so after breakfast (scrambled eggs and bagels!) we'll chat over chocolate chip/M&M cookies.

    And we'll have fun!

  8. Fun to see your process, Mrya! I rarely look for pictures of the hero and heroine early on. I may try that to see if my characters come to life more quickly when I give them faces.

    I brought Micky and Minnie mouse pancakes. Their faces may not fit our books, but who can resist a cute mouse?

    Giggling just thinking about Mary's reaction when she reads this. :-)


  9. Fun article! (Those photos are also great for the art department when they're putting together the covers.)

  10. Myra, I do almost the very same thing! I'll have a vague idea of what my character looks like. I photo search until I see the face, and I know that's the one. It's easy then to find images to print out for my hard file on that character.

    I was struggling to 'find' the male character for my current MS, when I started watching Downton Abby, and there he was! Dan Stevens WAS my Jackson!:-)
    It helps me to watch my character in action.

    Thanks for sharing the links, good resources!


  11. Well I'm gobsmacked! Never heard of those photo websites and have only been introduced to the whole concept of literally picturing your hero and heroine recently. I've never tried that but I'm often at fault for omitting physical descriptions of my characters so this might just help me with that. Thanks for the tips! Don't enter me in the draw though, 'cause I have your books! :-)

    Oh -- and I love Amber's idea of her pinterest board. Though I have a question or two. First, what about copyright issues if you chose a picture from one of the sites you highligted, Myra? Would you be able to 'pin' them? And is there a way to make your pinterest board private in case you are not ready to share your musings with the world?

  12. Good morning, Seekerville! As usual, I'm slow getting myself in gear--SOOOO not a morning person! I'll be back to chat shortly, as soon as I get my act together! In the meantime, feel free to chat amongst yourselves and enjoy Helen's coffee with Janet's pancakes--yum!!!!

  13. Oh Myra, this is the fun stuff.

    I've looked up famous actors and copied them out on one sheet and framed it. Set it close to my desk so I can see them all in one place. This one happens to contain pics Sandra Bullock, Mathew McConough (spelling?), Sam Elliott, and Dolly Pardon (as Sandra's eccentric mom.)

    I also create my own book cover to get a visual. The cover, the title, character pics, everything helps me remind the effect I'm trying to accomplish.

  14. Fun post, Myra.

    On Pinterest, I follow boards from various magazines that have photos of models, actors/actresses, etc. When I find a photo that interests me, I pin it to a board I call "Future Characters?".

    For one of my stories, I had a picture in my mind of the hero--hair, facial shape, etc. I just didn't see his features clearly and couldn't find "that guy." One night I was watching reruns of the show Numbers and it suddenly hit me--there he was! Rob Morrow was exactly how I had picture Quinn. He'd been right in front of me for a while (though I started the book before watching the show). Weird.

  15. Well good morning. I do it all in my head. Maybe it's time to start using other media! What an age we live in! As Maynard G. Krebs would say.
    Kathy Bailey

  16. Sounds like mostly writers on today. Coffee is great, as usual, Helen, and much appreciated. I always thought I was a morning person, but taking a deep look at myself...I wake up early, then prefer to have an hour or so of quiet to face the day! I would love to be entered to win!

  17. MARIANNE, I'm like you, I'm up early enough but DON'T BOTHER ME.
    MYRA, I have an unpubbed World War I novel. Would love to read yours when it comes out. That was a fascinating time, the beginning of the world as we know it and the springboard for World War II.
    I don't have anything substantial to say today, I just didn't want to go a day without posting. Off to novel work...

  18. Oh, I DO have something else to say! Simon Baker and Anne Hathaway? Really? Well, okay, but what will the children look like?

  19. Myra, this is GREAT! I'm still figuring out specifics of how my characters look. I hit gold in reading your post today. Thank you so much for sharing how you get characters. I'm definitely coming back once I have nailed down their personalities a little more. LOVED THIS!

    For the record, I love your picks for your new book. :)

  20. OH, MYRA, BLESS YOU FOR THE LINKS!!!! They are now on my favorites side bar. :)

    I have a question. I have stopped posting pics of movie stars I envision as my characters because of copyright infringement worries. Did you pay for those photos of Anne Hathaway and Simon Baker or are they just in the public domain?

    And, WOW ... I don't remember ever seeing your One Imperfect Christmas video before, but I LOVE it!!

    Fun, post, my friend ... and SO helpful to me with all those FAB links!!


  21. Please enter me in the drawing. I usually find my characters on Pinterest and usually after the fact. They prefer to tell me how they look and act and then give me the task of seeking after a picture of them. Cruel characters!

  22. Good morning, Myra!

    The links are wonderful - what a great resource!

    For my second book, I found my heroine while going through old family photos at my mother-in-law's house. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had her. The whole story and her character revolve around the expression on her face in that photo!

    For my WIP, I haven't browsed enough yet - that sounds like a good way to spend an hour or so later this afternoon :)

  23. Myra,

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    I always do random google search for character images and sometimes I spend days looking for just the right picture.

    Your way is so much more time efficient.


  24. Okay, I (sort of) have my act together--LOL!

    HELEN, thanks, as always, for getting the coffee going bright and early (bright??? at midnight????) Using catalogs for clothing descriptions is a great idea! Also handy when the editor needs details to give the art department for the book cover!

    LYNDEE, what kinds of photos do you capture with your camera? People, places, etc.? What a smart idea!

    HEATHER, I know what you mean. Last week I spent an entire afternoon casting the hero and heroine for my next book. That "AHA!" feeling when I find just the right image is so satisfying!

  25. AMBER, I agree--it really helps if you can match your character with a celebrity playing a similar part on TV or in the movies. Then I start to hear the actor's voice in my head--word choice, inflection, etc.--and also "see" their body language. Makes it even easier to fully describe a scene. Great Pinterest board, BTW!

    CINDY, glad I'm not alone in my hours-long quests to find the perfect representation of my characters! How did we ever survive before the Internet???

  26. Thanks for the great post, Myra! I appreciate the links. Often, I'll go through the newspaper and old photos while developing a character. Gotta love Simon! :)

  27. Thanks for the links! I'm starting the 3rd book in my WWII series and need to do this in the next couple of days. For the other two, I googled 1940s women. That way I got the period hair and clothes as well.

  28. Hi Myra,

    You've given me something new to think about. I'm like Ruth in that I have such good mental images of my characters I've never thought of looking for pictures. But that might help me in describing them. I'd go for the unknown models and try to find someone to fit.

    Thanks Amber for the Pinterest idea. I can see where that would be fun.

    Please put me in the drawing, Myra, your books look great.

  29. KAREN, are you downloading pix to your phone via the Web browser? Nice! I always keep my character photos nearby while working on a book. Sometimes I will even use PrintShop or Word to create a whole page of photos and print it out to have beside my computer.

    RUTHY, more food--yum! Breakfast was already three hours ago for me. I'm ready for those cookies now! On the character photos, I find if I wait until I've written the book to search out images for the cover, the characters as I imagined them are too deeply rooted in my brain. Then it takes forever to find any real-people photos that satisfy me.

    1. Myra,
      Once I find a pic I like on Google images, I take a snapshot of it with my iPhone. They are stored in my photo album. That's how my kids find them. There amidst the family pics are those hunks and a few lovely leading ladies.

  30. JANET, you have taken your life in your hands offering mouse-shaped pancakes with Mary around! I'd duck if I were you!

    SHERRI, so right--the art department really needs the visuals to help them create the perfect cover. They don't have time to read every book they're designing for, so the details and descriptions we provide are vital!

    MARY HICKS, oh, Downton Abby!!! What a great selection of characters!!! And why, why, WHY must we wait so long between seasons???

  31. KAV, I love having a photo of my characters so when the hero looks into the heroine's eyes, I can, too, and describe exactly what he's seeing. Or the way her hair curls over her shoulder. Or how fantastic she looks in a purple sweater and faded denim jeans.

    I am still learning the ins and outs of Pinterest, but I doubt you could legally pin an image from one of these rights-only photo sites. I think there is a way to make a board private, though I haven't tried it yet. Anyone have the answer?

  32. CONNIE, what a great idea to create your own book cover as you imagine it! On the last couple of cover art fact sheets I had to fill out, one of the items they asked for was any published book covers I particularly liked for style, arrangement, etc. So a mock-up using your own cover ideas might actually help them understand what you have in mind.

  33. SANDRA A, future characters--smart idea! Then you have your own "catalog" to refer to when you start a new story! BTW, Numb3rs was one of my favorite shows. I was sorry to see it end.

    KATHY, LOL, glad I could introduce you to a new way of finding your story characters!

    MARIANNE, I'm like you. I don't usually sleep late, but I need a couple of hours to get the brain functioning. Breakfast, morning paper, a little GMA, and slowly I start coming around.

  34. KATHY, what is wrong with Simon Baker and Anne Hathaway??? Two beautiful people, yes??? Their kids will be beautiful, too--count on it!

    JEANNE, glad you found some help here today. It's a process, that's for sure!

    JULIE, no, I did not purchase the photos. Maybe I'll get in trouble for snagging them off the Internet, but I see other blogs do it all the time. Guess I can always ask for forgiveness later if necessary--LOL! Glad you liked my OIC video. That was so fun to make.

  35. CINDY, yes, I think your characters are very cruel if they make you wait and wait before revealing pix of themselves. But what can you do? Most characters (mine, anyway) seem to have a mind of their own.

    JAN, old photo albums are another great source of character inspiration! Isn't it amazing what our imaginations can do with a single facial expression or someone's body language?

  36. BRIDGETT, time efficient--moi???? Well, if my suggestions have helped you at all, I am grateful. ;-)

    JILL, newspapers are another good source. And another opportunity to see random people in interesting situations or with thought-provoking expressions or body language.

  37. Thank you, Myra!! I NEED to use photos more to help me "see" my characters, because usually I use my mind--and after writing awhile my mind gets a little....um, fuzzy. *sigh* Although I have used visual aids a few times, I know it would help me to use them regularly. So...THANK YOU for these links, and for sharing how you accomplish this.

    No need to enter me in your drawing, as I'm in the Heartsong book club and receive your wonderful books!

    Hugs, Patti Jo (who really needs some of Helen's coffee for my FUZZY brain today, LOL!)

  38. LIZ, great idea Googling 1940s women! Sometimes getting the costuming right is half the battle. Something else I have fun with is finding pictures of the kind of car I think my characters would drive. I've even looked them up on manufacturers' sites to get descriptions of the interiors.

    ELAINE, for me, that's the value of having photos. They give me a visual to help me describe the characters more accurately. I remember what JULIE said yesterday (I think it was) about hating it when a book takes forever to provide the heroine's description.

  39. Great post, Myra!

    I'm running off to my cp meeting at Panera's. Sending an assortment of pastries from their bakery! Hope to brainstorm a new story today. Will come home and "find" my characters.

    Sunshine in GA! YES!!!

  40. PATTI JO, I've gotten to where I can't even start writing until I have photos of my characters. I may start out thinking of them with certain traits or in certain occupations. But once I get that picture, it's like it frees up my mind to go in new (and usually more interesting) directions.

    DEBBY, we have sunshine today, too, after a fairly stormy couple of days. Of course, the humidity is climbing. Oh, I love Panera! Can I put in my lunch order??? Have fun brainstorming with your cp!

  41. MYRA, I was being facetious. Of course their child will be beautiful! I wish they had been my parents. On the other hand, the Duchess and Prince William, let's hope the kid has personality. Again facetious. My humor does NOT come across well in blogs.

  42. Myra, I sure did appreciate those two links to the hunky blonds! :)

    I do the same thing you did. I go to sites like iStock and Crestock and do searches. Then I create a light box. Then when I'm working on an Art Fact Sheet, I save them to my computer to use in a document to send to my editor. Once I decide for sure on how the character looks, I often purchase the rights in case I want to use on my blog or something along those lines.

    Thanks for sharing the links!

  43. OH I LOVE PANERA TOO, especially their double chocolate cookies, shortbread cookies, cheesy bagels, carrot cupcakes and any whole-grain bread. Have to cut back because of the Big D, but also love their black bean soup and their garden vegetable soup. There is a Panera in the town I cover, and I am frequently there. If you're ever in Exeter NH, stop at Me and Ollie's, which is a kind of low-stress Panera. It's a small chain with three shops, one in Exeter, one in Hampton and one in Portsmouth, and it has great soups and breads and dessers, in a slightly more low-key (less-key?) atmosphere than Panera. Like they don't have the electronic buzzer and it's more of a café atmosphere.

  44. LOL, KATHY!!! I thought maybe you referring to the blond/brunette mix! Yeah, can you imagine having Anne and Simon for parents? Wow!

    Oh, and another Panera lover! I get their promo emails, and just today got $2 off for a You Pick Two. Must use soon!!!

    MISSY!!! I should have known you'd be the one to drool over the hunky blonds! Good idea to purchase the rights to any photos you may want to eventually use in promos.

  45. Kav,

    You can make a Pinterest board private - it's actually what my cover designer and I did for the cover design process! You have the option to include someone else to pin on your board, and you also have the option to make it "secret," which means only you and those you invite (if anyone) can see it. :) We pinned Stock images (with the watermarks still on them) on there (and more!) in order to help us visualize the concept and narrow down our choices, while easily sharing ideas with each other. When we found the images we wanted to use, we bought them. :)


  46. AMBER, that's great to know! Thanks for the suggestion!

  47. Kav,

    I guess I should add something about your copyright question, too! ;) That issue was one of the reasons I stayed away from Pinterest for so long... I was afraid of violating someone's copyright. But when my cover designer suggested we start a secret board, I got sucked in and now I really love it! :) What I try to do, generally (unless I'm repinning someone else's pin, or what have you), is to include a link in the description back to where I found the image, or include some sort of note in the description that shows I'm not claiming the picture as mine, you know? (Unless it is mine, LOL.) But each pin shows where you pinned it from - whether you uploaded it, or the URL you got it from, or who you repinned it from, etc. I'm not quite sure about having a public board with those Stock photos, but I imagine that if it still has the watermark and you link back to the Stock photo site, it should be all right. Probably a big concern is if you download an image that isn't yours, then upload it as yours, perhaps? Either way, you do have to be careful, but I think giving credit via a link (etc.) can help. :)


  48. Myra,

    You're welcome! My pleasure! I've had a lot of fun discovering the joys of Pinterest (although it is a little time-consuming, like all the other social media sites, LOL). :)


  49. Hi Myra, what a fun post today.

    I use internet searches at the beginning of every story.

    No matter who I choose to base my hero on, my mind always wanders back to my husband. So it's a good thing I have those pictures to refer back to.

    Thanks for the extra sites to choose from.

  50. Did you ever have one of those deja vu moments where you THOUGHT you commented on the blog and you didn't?

    I wonder how many female writers have Henry Cavill as their hero?

    Good gravy there hasn't been a good Hollywood leading man hunk in a long time.

  51. The other thing with Pinterest is that if the artist/photog etc herself posted it on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest THEN it is a social media fair use image that can be SHARED.

  52. Great info MYRA. Love the links. I'm so paranoid about copyright I seldom use anything public unless I contact the people first. But it is good to learn how to do this.

    Love all the suggestions.

    And I'll take some Panera.

  53. AMBER, that's a good point about giving credit. Still, it's worth being careful. And, oh yes, Pinterest can devour your time!

    JACKIE, how fun that you're married to your ideal story hero!

  54. Giving credit via a link is not good enough.

    There is a really good article on copyright in the Weekend Edition on the topic.

    Copyright and Fair Use and How It Works for Online Images

  55. I should clarify. If the author/artist/photog says that's all you need to do then that works. But taking an istock image even with a watermark is not going to make them happy.

  56. TINA--oh, yeah, can't wait to see the new Superman movie! You're right, not many to-die-for Hollywood hunks come to mind anymore. The best ones (ahem!) are all getting OLD!

    SANDRA, I get a little paranoid, too, so I'm careful what I pin, and also what I use as blog graphics. I'm too poor to risk a lawsuit!!!

  57. This is why I budget for crestock.com

    It's tax deductible as a writer and they keep my history of purchased images. Then I don't usually change the name of the image so no one else borrows it from me. I paid for that sucker. I don't really want it to show up on a Google Image search.

    You can get celebrity photos there too. So basically why would a photog want you to link back to his site and steal his picture if he can make money on it at crestock, istock, Bigstock etc.

    It really puts it in perspective.

  58. Really good points, TINA! I just read that article you gave the link for--very informative! Worth everyone's time to read through!

  59. Tina,

    Thanks for the link and tips!


  60. Hi Myra! I love visualizing what my characters look like! Depending on the story, I like to look at photos of actors/actresses on IMDB.com, or Google. If it's a period peice, I'll try to find photos from that era.

    Oddly enough, for my first novel, I had the visual of the main character in my head. About haldfway through the writing, I met a young woman for an article I was writing that looked EXACTLY like my main character, even down to a slight chin dimple! I took her picture for the article, and later saved it as inspiration for my character. I hope someday to tell her that she inspired me!

  61. STEPHANIE, how fun! I bed she'd be flattered! IMDB is a great source for celebrity photos, and handy for looking them up in various roles to match your envisioned costuming and time period.

  62. Sheesh. I BET she'd be flattered!

  63. BTW, Anne Hathaway and Simon Baker were already in a movie together- The Devil Wears Prada. OK movie, his character is a skunk, but not bad. Of course, their characters are hipster New Yorkers, not WWI-era folks!

    TINA, mmm, Henry Cavill is VERY dreamy for a main character. For the record, I thought he was cute years ago when he was in The Count of Monte Christo... he was very young then...and he was hard to see around the likewise dreaminess of Jim Caviezal and Guy Pierce... who are ALSO very good looking guys to base a character around.

  64. Oh, wow, STEPHANIE, I completely forgot Simon Baker was in that movie with Anne Hathaway! I just had to go look it up on IMDB!

    BTW, hubby and I have started watching The Mentalist on Netflix DVDs. For some reason we didn't watch when it first premiered, so whenever we find a program we think we would have liked, it's fun catching up over the summer when everything else is reruns. Ready to start disc #2 tonight!

  65. I'm glad I read through the comments first -- I was going to recommend IMDB, too. Since I write historicals, finding pix of actors in period dress helps. Also, there are some wonderful pix of many periods at the American Memory Collection in the Library of Congress online.

    I don't tend to find pix of exactly my characters but am looking more for pix of emotions, moods, movements, locale, etc. However (there's always a however), one time I came across an actor who was absolutely one of my stories hero ... Jordan Bridges in "Love Finds a Home." Since then, I also check out network websites like Hallmark and PBS.

    Enjoying the comments!

    Nancy C

  66. NANCY, thanks for the suggestion about the American Memory Collection. I'll have to check it out!

    On the subject of locales, while writing my post-World-War-I series set in Hot Springs, Arkansas, I have relied on a couple of pictorial history collections by Ray Hanley. I've seen similar books for other cities as well. Very helpful!

  67. Stephanie!! Jim Caviezal! I am addicted to Person of Interest because of him. What a great, loner, wounded hero.

  68. Yes. Myra. When we were in Tulsa at Steve's Sundry we saw the Tulsa pictorial. They are wonderful.

  69. Myra! So fun!

    I have several pics in my OneNote folder of each character. I spent waaaaaaay too long searching for one of my heroine [a princess] one time. Then, up popped a new profile pic of a Facebook acquaintance. PERFECT! And she gave me permission to use it :D. Loved that!

    I have one couple that happens to look a lot like Brad Paisley and Kim Williams Paisley. Do you know how hard it is to find pics of him without his hat?! [And how much cuter he is with it ;)?] So instead of being an Aussie, he's from Texas [sorry Lisa!] and an Aussie will get another minor role some other place.

    Of course, one of my favorite and saddest stories is when my favorite Panera manager told me I needed to name a character after him. I did and he was killed in a car accident a few weeks later :(. His girlfriend is letting me use pictures of their family for my one sheets etc.

    I have one of your Horseman books Myra but somehow missed the others :/. Need to fix that...

  70. Yes, those are great books, TINA! Fun to see what cities and the people from that area looked like through the years.

    CAROL, what a touching and very sad story about your Panera manager! Such a sweet way to remember him!

    Yes, I agree about Brad Paisley. He's much cuter with his hat. I think he wears it to disguise his ears.

  71. great post. i do look up photos for hero/heroine descriptions, but had never thought to look at more than one pose of photos i've found to help spur my imagination. nifty.

    always enjoy the opportunity for books.

  72. Hi, DEB H! Yes, finding alternate poses really helps get my imagination cranking. For one of my books, I found photos of the same model in the park reading a book, in an office working at a computer, and in a couple of other settings. It gave me ideas for different aspects of her life and personality.

  73. Oh, my gosh, Stephanie!!! You did it again. I totally spaced that Simon Baker was in The Devil Wears Prada.

    You can see clips on youtube.com

    You genius.

  74. I've gotten better about searching for pictures online. I used to really be resistant to it, because I wanted to supply the face myself. But I've gotten over that and usually send a picture in with a proposal.
    Have you all seen Henry Cavill? The new Superman.
    From now on all my heroes look like him!!!!!

  75. Myra,

    You are responsible for the hours I wasted looking up all kinds of pictures this afternoon! LOL!

    I love Henry Cavill. First loved him in the series 'The Tudors'. He was a friend of King Henry - very cute. And he looks great in the Superman trailers. That's next on my movie list.

    Thanks, Myra!


  76. Get to the back of the line you two. We've already got dibs on Henry. See the comments. I think you guys are ooglers 99 and 100 respectively.

  77. Just because I wrote Henry Cavil down late doesn't mean I didn't THINK OF IT A LONG TIME AGO!!!!
    My current series heroes
    Henry Cavill-Luke Stone
    Sam Elliot-Dare Riker
    James Garner (in his Maverick Days) Vince Yates

  78. Myra, I use the technique of searching for pictures of actors and actresses. However, the actresses tends to be a challenge at times. My heroines are of Japanese or Indian descent. WHen I do a search, I usually get a "single men seekeing Asian wives" website. I have learned to be careful when I do those searches. :-)

  79. And I'm in for the giveaway. :-)

  80. Except Luke Stone is Italian so he's Henry Cavill with black hair and midnight black eyes.

  81. Calm down, MARY. Uh-oh, I foresee a rash of romane book covers with Henry Cavill pictured as the hero.

    SUE, sorry if I missed up your afternoon plans--LOL! Yep, been there, done that!

    WALT, that sounds like trouble in the making! You should try one of the stock photo sites and use Asian or Indian as one of your search criteria. Might be a little safer than a general Internet search!

  82. Oh, brother, typing on my iPad tonight! Sorry for the typos!!!!

  83. These photo sites look amazing! What a great way to find my characters! Thank you!!! Please enter me in your book giveaway!

  84. O.M.G! This is great info! Because I'm not up on all the younger actors and actresses I usually have to stumble across a photo to inspire me. I was lucky with my novella because Bradley Cooper was just perfect for my hero and the actress who plays Beckett on Castle was my heroine. Usually the heroes all just look like Hugh Jackman because... well... I like Hugh Jackman. LOL!


  85. Glad to, SHERIDA! Thanks for stopping by!

    Two great actors, MARILYN! I love Beckett. Cool lady cop! Bradley Cooper is an interesting & cute leading man, too! Uh, and so is Hugh Jackman!

  86. OMG, Myra! This is so much fun! If I had read your post early this morning, I KNOW I would have gotten in trouble at work for playing with characters on the computer, LOL!!

    I love your step by step process of narrowing down the field. Great stuff here.

    I'm going to play around with characters this weekend.

    Thanks for sharing!!!!

  87. Yes, Myra ... that was me who said I hated when a book takes forever to describe the characters. :)

    Which is why I appreciated your blog SO much!! :)


  88. I love this, Myra! It's so fun to be able to visualize who you're writing. Someone may have already mentioned this, but I think it would be fun to look at YouTube videos to see the characters in action...not just their movie clips but their interviews. I feel like that's where you really get to see the personality of the actor. One of my favorite leading guys is Richard Armitage...swoon! :) I also really loved the newer version of Jane Eyre...with the girl named Mia. I thought she was so good as Jane. Thanks for the post! Now I might just go you-tubing : ).

  89. The Internet would certainly make finding character images so much easier.

    Please count me in for the drawing.

  90. This is very helpful! I do have an old binder with character "pictures" that I cut out of clothing catalogs. It helped that the same models were used throughout in different poses... but boy that seems like a long time ago!

    Thanks Myra!

  91. AUDRA, glad I didn't interfere with your work day! Have fun playing this weekend!

    LOL, JULIE, I'm just starting a new book, and I thought of you the whole time I was writing those opening scenes. "Did I give enough hints about what the characters look like? Will Julie be able to picture them soon enough???"

  92. STACEY, what a great idea to check out the celebs in action on YouTube! And I love the idea of seeing them as themselves in something like an interview setting.

    MARY P, I hope you have fun searching the Internet for character images!

    DEBRA, a long time ago for me, too. I think I finally ditched my old character scrapbook. It was from the '80s, after all, so horribly out of date. But you're right--they use the same models many times, so you can see them with different looks.

  93. Great article!! Thanks for sharing with us. The internet makes research easier at least for me, but who wouldn't love Simon? Please enter me in your giveaway.
    Thank you,

  94. I would love to win,Enter me!
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway and God Bless!
    Sarah Richmond

  95. LOL, MYRA ... glad to see I leave an impact ... ;)

    Pretty DARN sure I'm gonna love ANYTHING you write, my friend, character descriptions on first pages or not ...


  96. BARBARA & SARAH, glad you stopped in! Yep, Simon is a cutie! Enjoying catching up with early episodes of The Mentalist.

  97. This is my first time here. so interesting! I will be back. What wonderful details. You make it sound easy and of course It's hard work. Simon is most definitely hansom! Yes please put my name in the "hat.". Thanks.

  98. This is my first time here. so interesting! I will be back. What wonderful details. You make it sound easy and of course It's hard work. Simon is most definitely hansom! Yes please put my name in the "hat.". Thanks.

  99. This is my first time here. so interesting! I will be back. What wonderful details. You make it sound easy and of course It's hard work. Simon is most definitely hansom! Yes please put my name in the "hat.". Thanks.

  100. This is my first time here. so interesting! I will be back. What wonderful details. You make it sound easy and of course It's hard work. Simon is most definitely hansom! Yes please put my name in the "hat.". Thanks.