Fantasy Casting (Guest Post by Author P.I. Barrington)

How do you see your characters? Do you just make up what someone looks like generally or are they specifically described? Or, as me and a quite a few other authors, will tell you, fantasy casting (using real people or particular looking people) is quite helpful in determining who your character is and what they look like. Fantasy casting (not my term but a great one) can help in more than one way, especially if you use it often or use it in various ways. Here is how I cast my characters & subsequent personalities:

  1. Search the web before you start character description. Why? Because looking at the picture many times will give you an idea of what their personalities will, could or should be and how and who you imagine as that character. It can assist you in developing storyline or plot or even subplots.

  2. Help your publisher help you. If you’ve never been published by a publisher (of any size) but plan to submit, there is one particular task that sounds fun, but is really rather stressful at first. You will be asked to fill out the cover art sheet. This is where you sum up your plot & give publishers and their cover artists an idea of what your characters look like so they can design covers. Unless Random HouseHHouse calls with a contract offer, most small or indie publishers require this sheet. Many of them even ask for a photo of who your character resembles. This can be anyone, even actors. Don’t worry, publishers cannot and will not use these pictures publically. You cannot both because you don’t own those photos, and it is illegal.

  3. Where to find photos? Photos are everywhere and do not necessarily have to be actors. In my latest novel Vin Diesel & Radha Mitchell were my interpretation of my hero and heroine looked like to me in The Brede Chronicles, Book 1. Only Vinnie had box braids and Radha looked like she did in Pitch Black. I thought they looked so great in that film I loved them in it. But and this is a big but, when I was writing Isadora DayStar, I had an idea of what she looked like but had no idea who she resembled—no actress fit the bill. But I was planning on getting my hair cut and happened to be looking at a site of hairstyles, literally hundreds of them. All of the women had smooth, obviously styled hair and I scrolled down and down and down then suddenly, there she was. Red background, super skinny, loosely cut Mohawk hair. It was her—Isadora DayStar. Since she was ex-military and a junkie to boot, that was who and what she looked like—so different than the smooth-haired blondes, brunettes, and quite a few males with hair sprayed coifs. She wore jeans and a “wife-beater” T-shirt (again not my term and not a good one this time) and her face was pointed and angular and amazingly different she crouched on the top of a column precariously. When I saw that picture I yelled: “Isadora DayStar! Welcome home!” One day I hope find out who she was (none of the models were credited) or is and get permission to use that amazing photo and when I do—look out!

  4. Be open to single shots. Most of the pictures that describe or resemble your characters may be just one shot of many where the actresses or actors that captures their essence and usually that’s what publishers want—just one photo. Believe me, when I wrote the Future Imperfect trilogy, I used one shot of a woman shooting target practice with a gun with short blonde hair. That was Payce Halligan. When I saw the rest of the shots, they looked nothing like Payce and I had a shot of a secondary character that when I saw more shots of him, he looked nothing like Nick Kincaid. The only character to this day I cannot find a photo of is Gavin McAllister and my poor ex-publisher is probably still trying to find him, lol.

  5. Use those photos to develop characters ahead of time. This is a great tip that I use on occasion. For The Brede Chronicles I knew I wanted a female main character who was a scamp, a hustler who grew up on the streets of New Cairo as an orphan. I thought about who could manage that type of character and I thought of Radha Mitchell though I’ve never seen her portray one. Of course, my cover artist came up with the most beautiful (Radha notwithstanding) woman who I fell in love with and who fit the character of Elektra Tate like a glove. For Alekzander Brede, I wanted a real bad ass—someone who hated his human side and was determined to bury it altogether. Vin Diesel usually plays bad guys with a sense of justice and caring about loser females and males but I wanted a real bad ass. I wanted a hate-able hero that it takes a major tragedy to make him behave like a human.

Those are some of my Fantasy Castings and I use them however I need them. I’m sure you can come up with many, many more uses yourself. The only tip I won’t give you is how to fill out those art cover sheets. That’s something you’ll have to learn on your own. Good luck.

Patti Barrington

Patti Long Hair11811493_10206485446847475_528678386447676217_n


First Realm Publishing   –   Barnes & Noble




9 thoughts on “Fantasy Casting (Guest Post by Author P.I. Barrington)

  1. Some great advice here, especially when it comes to working with a publisher. I provided a brief for my creative team with my publisher but I also created a Pinterest board with graphics, artwork and inspiration to bring it to life. Even if you’re an indie author and commission designs privately, these are great tips to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My main cast, both for the current saga and for the next series, were developed on a 3-D chat program. I was able to work up the avatar for each of the different characters to use during my role-play sessions. The support cast were much more malleable, though I knew in general what their personalities were/will be like.

    It wasn’t until I started working on the cover art for the first set of companion novellas that the looks really were anchored into place for me. It wasn’t even the human side of the character images that did it, it was the animal shift that helped determine much of the humanoid’s looks. Either that, or trying to figure out how to depict the personality quirks – like for my least stable character. Still working on that one.

    Liked by 2 people


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