One of the techniques I use when I’m trying to bring characters to life in my head is to cast them.
By imagining a certain actor playing that character, I can see them walking and talking in my mind’s eye. I can imagine the tone of their voice, the way they would be around other people, the way they might look at me when I’ve landed them in a particularly tricky situation.
This week I’ve been doing exactly that. I’m plotting my next novel, using my Novel Planning Workbook to work through the process of fleshing out plot, character and theme. And one thing I’ve been doing is imagining a cast for the book.
My WIP involves four women as POV characters. For each of them, I’ve imagined who might play them if the book was ever turned into a movie (or an HBO series… even better!). And in case you’d like to know, I’ve cast Amy Adams, Viola Davis and Rosario Dawson. I’m still trying to cast Cindee, who’s fifteen and innocent but feisty. Any suggestions gratefully received!
With my first book, I cast Keeley Hawes as Jennifer Sinclair, my ambitious but family-oriented Shadow Home Secretary. Which felt uncanny when BodyGuard came out and Keeley Hawes played a steely but not particularly-family oriented Home Secretary! I would watch it and imagine it was Jennifer she was playing on screen, and not Julia Montague (still begins with ‘J’, right?).
If you’re stuck on a character, and you can’t imagine them as flesh and blood, try it. Watch some movies and TV shows with similar characters, and imagine the actors playing your creations. It’s a lot of fun and might help you with your writing!