Perhaps one of my favorite forms of
procrastination research in the early phases of a project is the photo inspiration. Being an incredibly visual person, I love finding look-a-likes for my characters. They can be actor headshots, but I find as much inspiration in the way a photo is taken as the person in it.
For All Things Between, I have three main characters (and a small horde of secondaries). I’d found an image to help me envision the protagonist.
I chose this photo, not because it’s Emma Watson. (indeed, I DON’T think Emma is the best equivalent), but her expression was perfect. Mackenzie is only 16, but she’s been sending Histories back to the archive since she was 9 and her grandfather passed her the job, ready or not. She makes a comment at one point early on:
"You’d think, being spirit rather than material, the Histories couldn’t make a mess, but they do. The longer they’ve been in the space between, the more real they become. Fresh out of the vault you can put your fist right through them and feel little more than a breeze against your fingers. A week out and they feel gelatinous, fluid. Longer still and I imagine they would begin to hold up like flesh, like blood. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never let a History get past me that long."
And I knew with fair certainty what the second of the three looked like, so finding a photo wasn’t a matter of necessity. Wesley Ayers might not have a photo but thankfully for once I know EXACTLY what someone looks like. Picture maybe a young, skinny Adam Lambert, with gold-flecked blue eyes, a perpetual smile, and a touch of narcissism.
But my third. He was giving me *so* much trouble. He’s complicated, and while I was privy to those complications, I was really struggling to *see* him.
And then, I was on the plane to Vegas, and a movie came on (Inkheart). I stared. I looked up and thanked the visual-
procrastination-research gods. I was staring at my character. Once again, not his physical likeness, but his attitude.
And the part of Owen Chris Clarke goes to:
You just never know from what faces your characters will look out at you.
Have you ever had a character show up in a stranger’s face? Even a fleeting glance in a foreign pair of eyes?