Visualising My Female Characters

When it comes to the female characters in my books, I grow extremely fond of every one of them, even the evil ones. What can I say, when it comes to my fictional women, whatever they want me to say about them, happens. You would comply too if you have ever tried putting words in your female character’s mouth that you know full well she would never ever utter, or tried forcing her into a particular situation which a woman like her would never ever willingly enter into.

Believe me, when you live with one of them in your head as I do each time I write a book, for the sake of your sanity and a quiet life, you do as your character demands. If you think you are creating a character, forget it, your not. They creat and reveal themselves. All you as the writer have to do is listen to what they are saying. Having said that, before you reach for the phone to call the men in white coats to take me away in a straight-jacket, no I’m not mad. I’m just a writer.

It helps me enormously if I can either find a photograph of a particular individual closely resembling who I have in mind, or perhaps even an illustration or painting. For instance, in my best selling scifi adventure novel The Seventh Age, I needed to get a clear image in my head of the principal female character, an alien who tracks and protects the hero Nick Palmer, wherever he goes. It wasn’t until I was reading the late Mac Tonnies’ blog one day, that I came across the artwork for the cover of his book The Cryptoterrestrials, which I immediately bought a copy of, and thoroughly enjoyed reading. Staring back at me from the cover exactly as I had always imagined her, was the hauntingly beautiful face of Ithis, the androgynous alien inhabiting my mind at the time.


When it came to writing my recent novella Cataclysm last year, the story has two strong feminine characters, Arianna a beautiful example of the third gender, who the hero Gilbert Briggs, falls head over heels in love with, and her nemesis Taliva, another member of the same Apex race as Arianna whose ancestors are responsible for creating mankind, as a docile slave race in the novella. In both cases it helped when I found two particular photographs. The one I used for Cataclysm’s cover depicting Taliva, is actually a photo of a mannequin.


The other photograph which I came across while looking for an image that said Arianna to me is this one. The fact that the beautiful human being pictured is a real life Arianna, is neither here nor there.


On the other hand when it comes to any of my male characters, I don’t need any form of visual representation. I find them much easier to come to terms with. All I need is to get their various physical characteristics, character traits, faults and prejudices etc firmly fixed in my mind for the duration of the write.

As for my current work in progress, The Guardian, when it comes to my latest heroine I’m still looking for a photograph that says Lynne Crawford to me. So if anyone knows of a photograph, illustration or painting, depicting a beautiful full bodied woman with honey blond hair in the form of a crew cut hairdo…

In the meantime the picture I currently have of her in my head will have to suffice. Not to worry. One day soon I will eventually find a representation of her, just as I did for all my others, hopefully before I’m halfway through writing my WIP.


19 thoughts on “Visualising My Female Characters

  1. Interesting, Jack. I suspect that, like most men, we are very visual creatures. I always start my character profiles with a picture, usually purloined from the net. I have a collection of thousands, added as I come across an interesting person who might one day become a character. It’s my starting point. I then give them a name, physical history, emotional and spiritual history and a family background before I ask them a few questions. Once I’ve got to know them, I stick them into the situation I have in mind and let them deal with it in their own way.
    I do this for all my characters, regardless of gender. In fact, I don’t know how I would write a story without such preparation.
    Thanks for an interesting post.


  2. I do visualize my characters but prefer to see them in my mind rather than in a photo. Most of them are an amalgam of real people I know. If I ever wrote about an alien, I WOULD need a picture – my list of alien friends is short, well, non-existent.


  3. Yes, the best characters spring whole on the page, steer the plot with unexpected actions and responses, and are mourned when the story ends or they die. The only other method of creating characters that I used was to have an actor I enjoyed “play” the part of a character — which often brought a previously cardboard like person to life.


  4. Those characters can be quite demanding, especially a female one. LOL You describe perfectly how to go about writing a strong character. I think many use this process, even if they don’t realize it. I think visualization of all of your characters is important, especially when it comes to writing about their facial expressions, their physical abilities and emotions. As always, you show yourself to be truly a writer at heart. 🙂


  5. Oh you guys are all the same! Why not make her a REAL woman ie normal boobs, a belly which has borne children, you know, real curves??? Are real women not good enough? Personally I’d much rather imagine someone real rather than a stereotype hollywood beauty or handsome hero.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: #The Guardian #Progress Report No: 8 | Have We Had Help?

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