This post was written specifically for the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop.

Granted, this happens with screenplays more than novels (although a case could be made for certain authors who seem to get spates of adaptations), but how often have you heard that a specific role was written with a particular actor or actress in mind?

Personally speaking, there are some reasons I like this idea and I have used it a few times for various things that I’ve written. So why?

Well, for one, it gives you a template to work with when building a character. You can use this to inform the character’s physicality or personality, filtered through your own perception of your model. Maybe you want to limit it to some aspects of their appearance or even just a general attitude. Or maybe you want to include specific mannerisms or ways of speaking. It’s up to you how much or how little you want to draw on this template.

The times I’ve used this have mainly been when I’ve been struggling with physical, or facial, descriptions. I don’t think I’ve modeled any of my characters on someone else’s personality. Well, unless you want to include Ash.

And, of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to a single model. You can mix and match details with abandon. And nothing says it has to be someone famous. You could just as easily base them on your observations of the little old lady down the street, if you wanted to.

The main drawback with this is that you can’t rely on it too heavily or you might end up with your readers unable to form their own picture of your character (unless you’re working in fan fiction but that’s probably a post of it’s own). I will admit that I’m treading very close to this line with one of the supporting characters in my House Valerius series. But as I said above, it’s your perception, which may not always translate directly to someone else.

Another, less practical reason is that, frankly, it’s fun to imagine yourself as having a multi-million dollar adaptation of your work and you have some level of input on the casting. We can always dream, right?

Don’t forget to read the other Author Toolbox blogs, just click the icon below. 

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4 Comments

  1. I think there is something to be said for using a real-life person as visual inspiration. If nothing else, it will ensure their eye or hair colour doesn’t change!

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