How To Represent Your Characters: Visual and Musical Aids

When writing a novel, keeping track of the details in our story is high priority. I’ve recently discovered the outline. Writing an outline has helped me think about the story. I figured out what it’s about, where it’s going, who my characters are and how they fit in and how they affect each other. I know the main parts of the story and every scene that I will write. At times, I come up with new ideas or realize a scene needs to change position or point of view. The outline allows me to see how any change will affect my story overall. In other words, it helps me stay organized. I love it.

The Visual Aid

Last week, there was a great post on The Creative Penn about using images to keep track of characters while writing a novel. Years ago, I tried this. I had a wall covered in pictures clipped from multiple sources to represent the main characters and places in my story with a description under each. I spent more time staring at the blank spaces in between the pictures than I ever did at them. Eventually, dust settled on the images, their corners curled and the visual aid became an eyesore. It didn’t work for me but it was a good experience. I learned not to waste my time going through countless magazines and Sears catalogs searching for the perfect photo. Still, it is a great idea if you are visual.

The Aural Aid

I continued to explore the concept of having some kind of concrete representation of my characters and my story and tried music. So often music has inspired me to create characters and stories so why not find a few songs to represent them. I like to use full-length albums. Most artists tend to write their music during a certain block of time so the sound and the subjects of the lyrics are consistent from beginning to end with a little variation here and there.

Unlike photographs which rarely stir me, music grips me. Currently, I’m using Lungs by Florence and the Machine. There’s the right amount of anger in the lyrics and intrigue in the music that the moment I put the record on I forget whatever mood I’m in and become immersed in the tone of the story.  Some changes are coming in the story and soon I’ll have to find another album but for now here’s a “preview” of my next novel.

What kind of aid do you use to represent your characters or stay with the tone of your story? Leave a comment. I love to hear from you.


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  1. #1 by patriciasands on July 27, 2011 - 4:14 AM

    Thanks for sharing that very cool video. I’m with you when it comes to working better to audio inspiration than visual. We’ll have to compare our playlists and have a chuckle – generation gap!!!
    Write on my friend!

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on July 27, 2011 - 12:51 PM

      Considering we went to the Queen St. West Music Fest together last summer and spent the afternoon listening to hip hop and alternative rock bands, I’m sure there is no generation gap.

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