Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Muse Frame

When I start a new story, I've already decided certain things about my characters: if they are quiet or boisterous, if they are tall or short, fat or thin, if they like to eat ham sandwiches or turkey. All of those things help bring them to life, but often I am undecided about their exact look. Do they have a short nose or a long nose, do they have high bony cheekbones or soft pudgy jowels? This is where the muse frame comes in handy.

On my desk in a little pink frame where I place a photo ripped from a magazine or printed online, or sometimes a picture of one of my friends. (shown above)

Meet my latest love interest. He's a super hunky Italian with a long straight nose and eyes shadowed in the fold of his brow. When he smiles, the left side of his mouth rises ever-so-slightly higher than the right. It's as if he always has a secret, one he's never told anyone. VOILA!

And sometimes I find the picture first and try to imagine what his or her life is like. It's a great brainstorming exercise and could just spawn the idea for your next novel.

Writer friends, what do you do to help bring your characters to life? Discuss.


Jaleta Clegg said...

I'm such a geek I've actually sewn costumes for my characters. Since I write mainly SF, this involves a lot of odd fabrics and designs. It's fun to do a personality profile, too. It's interesting how little I know about my characters' surface personalities when I know all about their inner selves. The character's favorite music became a plot point in one story, though.

Good question.

Rachel Menard said...

That's awesome that you sew costumes for your characters. If I was a better seamstress, I might try it!