Monday, 23 August 2010

Like a Thunderbolt

Ever have one of those moments where something extraordinary hits you out of the blue? I had it a couple of weeks ago.

I have a character called Echo. She's an echo. Many of you will know about her already, because I've used many scenes from the novel she narrates in blogfests and on the blog in general. I've always had an image in my head of what Echo looks like, but it's never been as clear as the images of my other characters - simply because I see through her eyes when I'm writing, so I don't see her as often. So my mental picture of Echo was never perfect. I could describe her, I knew her expressions and her gestures, but I couldn't have drawn a picture of her (assuming I could draw). She wasn't quite so clear.

Then I saw the video for a song called Airplanes, and I kind of jerked upright. There's something in Hayley Williams' wistful expression as she sings in this song, and in the way the light plays across her face, that made me think that's Echo.

Here's my favourite picture of the Paramore singer-

No, Echo doesn't look just like Hayley Williams (she's not a redhead for one thing), but there are similarities. Imagine Hayley's hair dark, almost black, there and it's pretty much a dead ringer for Echo's hair. Imagine her skin more honey-ish in colour, and her eyes a little darker. It's not a perfect comparison by any means, but if I had to choose one person in the real world who Echo looks a bit like, I'd have to pick her. It's something about the hair, the face shape, the fragile bone structure, the spirit in her expression.

But you can imagine how stunned I was, to sort of see my character sort of come to life that way.

Has this ever happened to you? Who do you compare your characters to?


  1. This happens to me all the time! I love it when I see a drawing or picture online and know it's my character. It's an awesome feeling.

  2. Hmm... I've never experienced anything like that- it sounds like fun!

    Most times my characters, like IRL people, feel more conceptual than physical to me.

    The exception to that are characters that are borrowed from other stories. In which case, in spite of describing them one way in a story, in my mind I'm seeing the actor that made me like the character I'm riffing off of.

    Hayley had green highlights in the early days of Paramore... Echo ever have the same? ; j

  3. Bethany, I'm so envious, I wished it happened to me more often!

    Ha, Alesa, maybe I should think about having her put highlights in her hair in the next book? Hmm, something to ponder... :-)

  4. I have several friends who have been through ICL (Institute of Children's Literature) courses and they have them make collages about their characters during the outlining phase of the project. All of them write really well, so it probably is a good technique.

  5. Wow, how cool! I'd love that to happen to me! I guess the closest I've come in when I saw a photo of the singer Adele for one of my characters.

  6. That's fab, I'm going to reread the snippets you've tempted us with and imagine Hayley in the role. xxx