Feb 24

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Would You Recognize Your Characters?

I mean, if you were walking down the street after leaving the bank, and one of your characters was walking the other way, would you recognize him?

Three Girls

Cindy Williams, a lucky shot of Kristy McNichol where she looks surprisingly like Kristy Zeigenfeld, and Sally Field

I got thinking about that because American Graffiti was just on. I get most into the stories of Steve and Laurie and John and Carol, if you want to know, but that’s really just an aside to this post. The significant part is that while it was playing, I was proofing The White Shamitz. I happened to look up at a time when the lighting and camera struck Cindy Williams (Laurie) just right, and I thought, “You know, she looks a little like Kristy Zeigenfeld”. Kristy, you see, is the protagonist of The White Shamitz.

So I wasted some time on Google looking up pictures of Cindy Williams when she was young. No, none of them were exactly right. I tried others. Kristy McNichol comes really close in some of her pictures. In fact, the one here is really close, but Kristy Z’s features are less angular than Kristy M’s (the name match is coincidental). Maybe if you morphed Cindy Williams and Kristy McNichol together? I don’t know; that would be a fair amount of work to satisfy a mere curiosity. I checked Sally Field, and she could work into the mix, too. But then, if you’re free to morph together an infinite number of real people, you can always get the look you want.


The boy who came to represent the soon-to-be world-famous Lesley Kellerman

In the end, I couldn’t find anyone who looks just like Kristy Zeigenfeld. I thought of Jennifer Love Hewitt as a teenager while I was washing dishes, but she looks more like Wendy Miller, a character in Korvoros. Speaking of Korvoros, I totally failed to get a good image of Risha Dyrrya. And I didn’t try to come up with images of some of the aliens. If you found someone who looks like a Shiiskituuki it would probably be because he has a rare, horrific disease.


The twin sisters who came to represent Nekalee (left) and Ritee (right)

What about my other characters? Well, you can’t always come as close as you want. The picture I licensed to represent Lesley Kellerman in A Hierarchy of Gods looks only a little like him, but he was as close as I could find in time for that post. Now, the two twins (yes, they’re really both girls), several pictures of whom I licensed to represent Nekalee and Ritee, are actually amazingly close. One of them ended up on the cover, and in that image is almost perfect. Better, one sister was made up more boyish than the other, and she made a good Ritee. Even more fantastic are the pink flowers in “Nekalee’s” hair; a romantic tradition on Trarsa. Sometimes you can luck out like that.


Jaxidreshny, the wildest ride Erik has ever experienced

Now, this image of Jaxidreshny (The Humanity Experiment) is almost exact because, you see, I went to the effort to actually model her in 3D, so I had the power to tweak all her facial features until I got them right. That takes some work and knowledge of modeling software (Daz Studio in this case) but it was the only way I could get her eyes the way they are supposed to be. If they look a little big, it’s because they are. Kyattoni eyes are relatively larger than human eyes, but not enough to stand out as bizarre on the street. Although I did a good job with her, I’m less satisfied with my renderings of her sister Triknikanthy.


Mellia, who is so adorable, but more fearsome than she looks

If you want big eyes, there’s always Mellia. She’s a Telosian also in The White Shamitz. Astorans have big eyes like that, too, but I don’t need a picture of Kambrik Zimz right now. For Mellia, I licensed a picture of a human girl and PhotoPainted (not Photoshopped!) the big eyes. She’s close, but only I would notice the difference.

Timothy Saugers looks sort of like Toby McGuire in Spiderman and Bradley McKenna looks a lot like Marshall Williams in How to Build a Better Boy.

The point of all this rambling is that I have a really good idea what my characters look like. I remember reading an article, or a post, or something, maybe a tweet, maybe a Facebook status, that the writer didn’t have a good idea how his/her characters looked. They are just rather  nondescript figures even if their personalities are sharply defined.

So I was wondering why some writers visualize their characters so accurately, and others don’t. I know when I write, my imagination is intensely visual; I see detail down to the grain density in rock. Maybe it’s connected to what type of learner you are, whether you’re left or right brained, whether or not your mother dropped you on your head when you were a baby (I don’t believe mine did).

So in the end, I don’t know why some writers do and some writers don’t. I’d be interested to hear what your visual imagination is like and if you have any suggestions about why we’re all so different.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.duanevore.com/would-you-recognize-your-characters/

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