(Mostly recycling from Tumblr again, because, after a long week spent helping care for my dad, who’s still going through chemo, I just don’t have the energy to put forth a completely new post.)
In a recent post over at Kourtney Heintz’s Journal, Kourtney brought up the idea of which actor might play which character from her book, Six Train to Wisconsin. While this is different from the idea of who or what may inspire a character, it did make me realize that many of the characters – notably the female ones – from my most recent story were actually based on specific looks and performances.
In “From Hell,” the main character’s appearance has already been determined for the reader, because he’s a borrowed likeness:
The story may be about Axton, but there’s a slew of women in the supporting cast whom I’ve just adored writing. Among them:
Cin, the charming and sensuous madam who runs the brothel “Cin’s Deadly Seven,” and who was based on gorgeous Adrienne Barbeau’s Ruthie from “Carnivale,” complete with slithering snake tattoos;
Red Widow, the cunning, discerning, and dangerous grifter who gives Axton a full-on run for his money in the sexuality and profanity departments (inspired by Gail Potocki’s beautiful and intimidating art below);
Marshal Kotonou, who wears a duster and wields a shotgun as well as any man, for protection of her borderworld town (and to whom I’ve attempted to give a nod of attitude and beauty to Gina Torres’s Zoe from “Firefly);
Lucy, the practical and sassy prostitute who has better insight into the main character’s head than he does, himself (based on the luscious Patricia Arquette’s portrayal of Sally Wheet in “Boardwalk Empire”);
and Sarah, the main character’s ex-wife from his military days, who provides some telling background about why he is the way he is (inspired by the many roles of lovely singer/actress Ana Brenda Contreras).
Stories about men tend to focus on just the men. Especially in the Western genre, where supporting women can fall into pretty predictable (and often hackneyed) categories. The women Axton encounters throughout the story might exist within those same categories, but I hope I’ve added some new dimensions to a few of them. They’re just so much more fun to write, that way. Hopefully, readers are enjoying the women in this story, too. Because, really, what’s a man without a good woman, whether she’s there to screw, fight, or be his conscience?
From where do you get your character inspirations? If you could cast anyone as one of your main characters, who would it be?
For a post you threw together–this is awesome!!! Love how my post inspired your post–best part of being blog buddies. 🙂 LOL. Your character inspirations are really cool and intriguing. My characters usually are a mesh of people I know, parts of me, and divine intervention. 😉
Your approach and Kourtney’s are so different from what I do with my characters. As you know, I’m of the camp whose characters exist “out there.” I have no say in what they’ll look like or their main personality traits. To be honest, I don’t even have a truly clear picture of their looks in my head, just some general features, like I’m looking at them through a frosty glass. And after that, I’m left with wanting the readers to form their own images of what those characters look like, with just a few clues like hair and eye color and general build.
I’ve yet to see an image of someone from “our” world that would leave me thinking, “Oh my God, that’s X!” Maybe some approximations, but nothing very close.
Still, it’s interesting for me to see what other writers have in mind for their characters!
I like pulling from real life, too…though I sometimes worry all my characters will start to look and act the same. 😉
I think different characters have ways of creating or borrowing their own inspirations, both in manners and looks, JM. Even when characters don’t have definite appearances in my head, I find that their feelings and impressions are strong enough to create a wavy sort-of look to them. Like visitors seen through a wet window. 😉
The balance of men and women in a good story is always a welcome sight! Personally, I have a tendency to write a main guy interacting with a lot of female characters and lack guy-to-guy interactions, probably because I don’t see a lot of guys with in-depth interactions together.
To be honest, since almost all my stories have a lot of anime influence, it’s a bit hard for me to have real actors take on my characters. I told myself that I would want my stuff animated, since that’s usually how I see everything in my head.
I am so out of touch with current/trendy actors and actresses that I would have no clue who would play any of my characters. I will say, though, that if I could get Meryl Streep to play any of my older female characters I would be one happy author! 🙂
Don’t be silly, Kate. Meryl Streep will ALWAYS trend! 😀
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
That’s a very interesting comment. I don’t really try to create any balance of women to men (or vice versa) in my stories. I’m more interested in seeing how all the characters interact. Part of those reactions are related to gender (and stereotypes), but it’s more personality than anything else.
On a side note, both the main character and the principal secondary character in this particular story are men, though that’s half the conflict of the plot.
I can see how animation can make many story points easier. I’ve often thought some of my favorite stories could only be done justice in animation, though that’s from mostly a technical perspective.
I think I have a very concrete internal picture of my characters. It’s so hard to say who could play them in a movie because I’d have to actually see if an actor could capture who the character is. 😉 I don’t actually have a clear picture of their faces in my mind. I know characteristics and I have ideas of what they look like, but I don’t have a set idea of exactly how Oliver looks. 🙂
That’s cool. I think I know a character’s primary characteristics first, then the face/form comes, and then the secondary characteristics fall into place from that (quirky habits, recognizable facial expressions). For some, I know *exactly* who’d play them…but, for others, I think I’d just have to let go and let a good casting director take over. 😉
It’s neat to see how we’re all different in techniques, though!