Wednesday, November 30, 2011


In less than twenty-four hours, National Novel Writing Month will come to a close, and for the first time in four years, I didn't hit the 50K mark. I blogged a couple weeks ago about my struggles. I've been doing just what I said I would -- reading books in various short contemporary lines to get back into the feel of a short contemporary romance.

Back when I used to read four to six of them a month, I could feel how the story should go. I knew to drop backstory in a little at a time, to use all five senses, to show and not tell. Or maybe I was fooling myself into believing I was doing all that. At any rate, I was putting words on paper.

If I was a Tweeter or a Twitterer or whatever a person who uses Twitter is called, I could come up with a lot of hashtags for how I'm feeling now:


You get the picture. And that brings me to something I realized a few days ago.

I wasn't sure who my characters were. I mean, WHO they were, as in I needed pictures of them so I could look at a photo and remember to describe the hero's blue eyes and the heroine's brown hair. I learned a few years ago that I'm a visual learner, and pictures help me cement things in my mind.

In the past, I've done a story board -- or at least had some things printed out and taped around my office for reference. Hugh Jackman was the hero of my 2008 NaNo book. Lucky Vanous was last year's hero. And who is the hero of Seduction with Style?

I swear I had him picked out to be Max Brown before the People magazine thing. The outdoorsy clothes and hat, the whiskers, the too-long hair -- they all fit with a guy who 's been doing his own thing in the great outdoors for the past seven years and whose mother thinks he needs an makeover so he'll fit into the corporate image of his father's empire. But he was really the only character I had a clear picture of. So I went on a hunt and I think maybe this is the rest of the cast.

I originally had this woman (found on the Max Talent site) as my heroine, Victoria Sharpe. She's an image consultant and I felt this woman had the right look for that.

But then I came across this photo of Ashley Judd and thought maybe she's Victoria.

Max's mother, Julia, plays a part in getting him and Victoria together. And I needed to know who she was too. She's in her late 60's or early 70's, stylish and proper but with some mischief in her too. For a while I was picturing English actress Helen Mirren.

And then it hit me! Who better than another actress who actually portrayed a TV character named Julia -- the late Dixie Carter.

Another character who has a small but relevant part is Victoria's business partner, Sophia. She's fun and quirky. I was getting nowhere finding her until I stumbled across this photo. It's self-explanatory.

She's fun and quirky, right?

I still have to cast Victoria's brother, Nick. It's important to get him right because I think he could be the hero in another book. He's in his early to mid thirties and he's an attorney. He was an associate in a firm until, with the help of information obtained by a private investigator, he won a high-profile divorce case for his client. It was the case no one thought he could win. Now he's the golden boy. And the female PI is going to be his heroine but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Who is Nick?

Help me out here. My knowledge of today's actors and actresses is very limited. All my heroes would be Hugh Jackman if I was left to my own devices. Help me find Nick. And if you have suggestions for the others, tell me those too. Oh, and Max has a younger sister, Kate. She has an MBA from an Ivy League school and would love to work in the family business, but Father is old fashioned and thinks she doesn't belong there. She's sharp as a tack, adores her older brother and is frustrated as all heck that her father is such an old fuddy-duddy. She has a cute scene with Max where Victoria thinks she's his woman du jour. Any idea who she might be?

Because this is all about looks, I'll pick one commenter at random to receive a nifty make-up collection in a zipper bag.


PM's Mother said...

After watching Ben Stiller in "Tower Heist" --which is a completely different role for him, I've changed my mindset against him, He's alright! That goon you have a picture of really needs an overhaul-- like a shave and a haircut.

Word verification: Monte -- as in The Full -----

linda winstead jones said...

I always start with a picture (sometimes) and then as I'm writing the characters morph into someone else. They refuse to stay as I originally picture them! As to lawyers, I'm partial to Robert Downey Jr. The hero of my July SE started out as a RDJ. Jason Mara (Terra Nova). Johnny Depp, if you go back to the Nick of Time look. -- LJ

Smarty Pants said...

What's wrong with Bradley Cooper? Another scruffy option would be Matthew McConah-however you spell it.

I'm not visual so I guess it doesn't bother me. I don't pick out an image until I have to for the AFS. Then its sort of annoying because I wish I'd known they were Ryan Reynolds and Keri Russell to start with. Might've been easier to focus on their appearance. But I didn't know what they really looked like in the beginning to pick the actor to begin with. *shrugs*

Playground Monitor said...

Of course that goon needs an overhaul. That's the point of the book -- an image makeover.

As for Ben Stiller, I haven't seen Tower Heist, but I can't get Dodge Ball out of my head.

RDJ -- oh yeah. Lawyer material for sure. And Jason Mara (or is it O'Mara?) is going to be Joe Morelli in the upcoming Stephanie Plum movie.

I thought about Matthew McConnaughey-hey-hey but I wanted someone with dark hair. And while MM has had dark hair in something, he just didn't look right.

Jean Hovey said...

I like to find my pictures in magazines and catalogs because I am afraid of being influenced by an entertainment person's personality. Though I am not up on pop culture. Someone recently told me that one of the people on my board is an actress. I forget who. But she had modeled for something. I forget what.

pjk said...

I love Ashley Judd!

Have you considered Josh Lucas for Nick? ~yummy~

Kelley Gregory said...

I'll be short and sweet........
Rob Lowe.

scarlet wilson said...

It's got to be the late, great Anyd Whitfield. Spartacus would scrub up lovely in a suit....

Sheryl M said...

When I think of Ben Stiller, I think of the movies starring the "Fockers" I guess I need to see "Tower Heist"!! As for visual, I get a mental picture of the hero/heroine as I read, and most times it NEVER fits the cover art. I too, am a visual learner, so if I were to ever try to write, I would need a story board, character fact sheets, the whole shebang!

Instigator said...

I don't use pictures. I tried at one point and it ended up being a time suck for me because no one looked like the people in my head. And even when I did pick one out I never looked at it again so I'm not sure what help it was. I haven't even bothered to get some for the AFS although I think I'm going ot have to do that next time I fill one out. Oh well...if forced. :-)


petite said...

nathan filion would be ideal. Photos are always an excellent resource for ideas.

traveler said...

Pictures add dimension and give me the depth that I require. A collage that I construct has always worked well. Patrick Stewart has versatility and ability.

Jane said...

Some of my current crushes who could be Nick are Henry Cavill(the new Superman and Sam Worthington. I like Mila Kunis as Victoria. For Sophia, I'm picturing Anna Farris.

catslady said...

I too like Hugh Jackman lol. How about Justin Timberlake - since he brought sexy back! And for the younger sister I like Keira Knightly or Natalie Portman.

Playground Monitor said...

Anna Farris -- I'm ashamed to admit I saw The House Bunny. I think she's a little too dim for Sophia though -- at least the way I picture her after House Bunny.

Rob Lowe -- oh yeah. Very good possibility.

Nathan Fillion -- oh double yeah. Not sure he fits the bill for Nick though.

Must look up Henry Cavill and Mila Kunis.

Keira and Natalie -- great heroine material but not sure they're what I'm looking for either.

Seems like I don't know what I'm looking for but I'll know it when I see it. LOL!

Thanks everyone. Keep 'em coming!

Angel said...

I like to find pictures that serve as a general guideline for me. I picture the actions of the characters in my head and it gives me a shadowy starting place for their looks, height, etc.

And I often find that it depends on WHEN the picture is done. Like Johnny Depp in Neverland verses Pirates.

Katherine Bone said...

So many good choices listed here. I love Jason Mara (Terra Nova, Life on Mars - where he plays a detective who gets shot and wakes up in the 70's) That was an awesome show!

Sam Worthington (Terminator #4, Avatar, and more.) Excellent choice!

Josh Lucas would be great. I love his blue eyes. (Stealth, Sweet Home Alabama)

There's Zachary Levi, from the tv series Chuck. He's a super agent in this show. Very cool!

Jeffrey Donovan, from Burn Notice on USA. Great choice. I've heard he doesn't even break a sweat while they film in Miami. Wow!

But the real suggestion I wanted to make is none other than Prince Charming himself, Josh Dallas. (Swoon!)

You can see him here:

Good luck finding your character! I use storyboards and I'm a visual writer like you. You'll feel so much better when you get your characters nailed down.

Cheryl C. said...

Yes, I do Looove Hugh Jackman. But, a slick, lawyerly type would be Adrian Paul. He's gorgeous and looks like Sean Connery. Love him in his European clothes and greased back hair - perfect lawyer material if I do say so (and I've known a few of them...).

Amy S. said...

Matthew McCaughney
Keanu Reeves
Owen Wilson
Vince Vaughn
Ryan Reynolds
Vin Diesel

Anonymous said...

Freddie prinze, old lol,
Ryan renynolds,
Tom cavannaugh,
Mat Damon
Good luck