Images In My Mind

16 Aug

George Maharis, circa 1975
The eyes have it.

Over my writing career, I’ve looked for pictures that resemble what I want my characters to look like. Somewhere in the first hundred pages, when I get to know the hero or heroine, they come alive and that picture changes in my mind. He/she becomes a person in their own right.

A few weeks ago, I watched Route 66, staring Martin Milner and George Maharis. I was too young to remember when the show came out in the early sixties, but I did know that it was about a couple of guys cruising the country in a Corvette convertible. They’d pick up odd jobs for money enough to allow them to keep moving down the road. What I discovered was the face of George Maharis, who played the character of Buzz. He reminded me of my hero Stanton Black in Maya’s Gold. Stanton, however, had more of a sarcastic sense of humor than Buzz on the show.

After I’d written Maya’s Gold and read through it again, my mind conjured up a likeness to Eva Mendes for my heroine, Maya. Maya was half gypsy and was known to spit when overwhelmed with anger. Anyway, Stanton


saw it a few times.

During my first manuscript, I didn’t picture anyone for the hero or heroine and maybe that was what was wrong with it. An editor once told me that my second manuscript’s hero reminded her of Jon Bon Jovi, who I didn’t imagine when I wrote the story. I did picture Harrison Ford’s crooked smile in my mind, many times. I’m hoping to redo this story and possibly go indie with it in the near future.

I experienced one of the highlights of my writing career in 2010. During a book signing event, I had the honor of meeting Steve Bronson, who happens to be the cover model on my book, A Place to Land. Poor guy, I made him take off his sunglasses so I could see his handsome face (his face was mostly covered by a cowboy hat on the cover). He was very gracious about it. As he walked off into the sunset, I noticed he’s taller than I expected him to be (cowboy boots?). In my opinion, he makes a great Jackson, the hero of the story.

For the hero of my current work-in-progress, I’ve pictured Mark Valley when he played the hero in Human Target, but his face is changing as I write.

Who do you see when you write?


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15 responses to “Images In My Mind

  1. Janis McCurry

    August 16, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    I always start with the name, which fixes the type of character in my mind. Then, I go to my folder of h/h pictures I’ve cut out (over time) from magazines, catalogues, etc. Sometimes, it’s a known star face, sometimes a model. It takes a bit because, like you, I have to develop the character first. I have a picture of Alyssa Milano that perfectly captures my heroine in my WIP. Haven’t nailed down the hero yet.

  2. ramblingsfromtheleft

    August 16, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    Mary … it’s a pleasure to be back from my summer break to find the first trip to GSW has caught me in a state of wonder over the look and feel of my main character … a feisty photojournalist in the turbulent sixties. I’ve had many visions of her and like so many of my characters both male and female I try to conjur them in my mind … crazy enough … I often talk to them.

    I am not sure exactly how they come to me … short or tall … dark or light … I try to use their personalities to guide me to their actual looks. Where do they come from? Compilations of images we’ve seen … on screen or at a luncheon counter? Who knows. I do love your wonderful collection of faces … loved George when I was a kid 🙂

  3. maryvine

    August 16, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    Very nteresting about choosing the name first to fix the character in your mind, Janis. Thanks!

    • maryvine

      August 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      So nice to have you back, Ramblings! I missed seeing your comments at Gem State, I like how you said, “Compilations of images we’ve seen … on screen or at a luncheon counter…” That is probably very true in my case, too.

  4. Stephanie Berget

    August 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    Ah, George Maharis. I’d forgotten about Route 66. I tend to pick the names for my characters first then look for their likeness. Thanks for a great post.

    • maryvine

      August 16, 2012 at 11:09 AM

      So you pick names first, too. I think that is second in my order. However, I changed the name of the hero in Wanting Moore midway through. Thanks, Steph.

  5. Liz Fredericks

    August 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    Hey Ramblings – Let me echo Mary – nice to have you back. Mary, I like the idea of a picture to guide character visualizations. For my WIP, I think I begin with a quirk or habit, then think up a name and follow with appearance. It’s so interesting to hear how different writers approach this – thanks for raising the question.

    • maryvine

      August 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      Starting with a quirk or habit – I like that. Thanks, Liz.

    • ramblingsfromtheleft

      August 16, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      I say again … Glad to be back to GSW. See you in space, Liz 🙂

  6. Lynn Mapp

    August 16, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    I loved George Maharis. Like you, I was too young, but I remember him guesting in other TV shows. I used to clip pictures from the Sunday ads, faces I could see building characters around. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. It’s a journey.

  7. maryvine

    August 16, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    George is still alive. He will be 84 or 85 next month. Saw a picture of him in 2006 and he still looked pretty good. He had gray hair and beard. Thanks, Lynn.

  8. Clarissa Southwick

    August 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    I’m not very good at picturing actors as my characters when I start out writing. I usually figure it out as I go along. Still, it’s a great technique. Thanks for reminding us 🙂

    • maryvine

      August 20, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      Perhaps some of us pick the look of actors/celebs because we don’t usually see these type of characters in our everyday lives 🙂

  9. Peggy Staggs

    August 20, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    When I have the all-important character name I go directly to the internet and start looking for pictures. It keeps me on track.

  10. maryvine

    August 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Going to the internet for pictures is a great idea, Peggy.


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