One of the many challenges I faced while writing my first novel, “The Motivator”, was deciding whether or not to provide precise snapshots of my character’s; their features, characteristics, mannerisms, etc. Being relatively new to writing I wondered how much of the reader’s imagination I’d rely on. Through research I soon discovered that a single right answer didn’t exist (although several experienced authors seemed quite opinionated) – some readers love to develop a vision for themselves, others expect richly defined details. Somewhere in the middle seemed appropriate, partly due to my nativity, lack of experience, or both.
There are tremendous resources available to help the aspiring author develop ‘character’; books, workshops, blogs, discussion boards, Google searches, and the like. While I haven’t attended any workshops thus far, I have spent considerable time searching the internet for clues and insights; seeking elusive descriptions for attributes such as hairstyle, face shape, skin tone, etc. When it came time to consider mannerisms and/or characteristics I relied upon past experiences and encounters, creating a short list of traits and values I perceived as good/bad, empowering/limiting, strong/weak, etc.
I have a tendency to be extremely visual, relating to a person, object, or thing once a mental image has been conceived. My reliance on the visual is at the core of my ability to write – If I’m successful at scrolling through a story plot and the main characters mentally and emotionally, the written word flows.
I have been asked by a few people what or who I visualized when developing Shelby’s physical features for my novel “The Motivator”. Not wanting to spoil the reader’s perception I initially refrained from answering. In an attempt to be fully transparent, here it is:
Shelby Archer = Carrie Underwood - a few inches taller, thoughtfully modified.
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