Posted by Lorraine (L.L.) Bartlett
I've been told that I don't give enough description of my characters. There're a couple of reasons for this. One, depending on the book's point of view, it's difficult to get that information out without resorting to the old, Tricia looked into the mirror, admiring her short-cropped, brown hair, her pert nose, and luscious lips. Too bad her blackened eyes ruined that pretty picture of herself.
Sometimes I really haven't got a clue what my characters look like. So I give a brief description and let the reader fill in the blanks. I've been told it works. (Hey, it works for me as a reader.) But sometimes you want to know what that character really looks like. Sometimes you just know them when you see them.
There was I was, sneaking around the building, looking for a free copier so I could make a copy of my manuscript to send out, and there he was--monopolizing my favorite copier. He was much shorter than my ideal, but the mug fit to a tee. Jeff Resnick was standing there in the flesh and all I could do was gawk at him. ("No, it's okay, I'll wait until you're done," I told him, and went back to standing there with my mouth open.)
Later that day the detective work began. Who was this guy? I used to walk around the building on my breaks, and I started looking for him every day. He had a company ID so he probably worked in the building, but he was as elusive as Big Foot. I'd occasionally see him in the bowels of the building, talking with some other employee, but I never got up the nerve to talk to him. And, really, what was I going to say? "Hey, are you originally from Buffalo? Do you have an older, millionaire brother?
Turns out one of my chums worked in his department. She slipped me his photo business card. I had a friend who did the most amazing pen-and-ink portraits and I sent her a copy of the picture and asked her to change him so that it was him--but it wasn't him. And she did. (It hangs over my desk, along with another picture another artist friend did of Richard and Brenda.) I have no trouble describing Jeff.
I really don't know what Tricia looks like. (Except for the above description, sans the black eyes.) But as I was thumbing through recent issue of a country magazine the other day, her sister, Angelica, popped out at me. There she was, sitting on a couch thumbing through a magazine. Whoa! It was her. She came to ... er, (still) life! Then the scenario started to build. I pictured her "friend" Bob walking into the room with a glass of wine and saying, "Here you go, my dear." (He's that kind of--ick, lounge lizard--guy.) She looked up at him with a look of deep affection. (What she sees in him, I do not know!)
I have a picture that hangs over my desk of another series character--one who hasn't been published. It's supposed to be a famous chalk drawing (my hubby is well acquainted with the work of the artist). To me it's Sabina. Sadly, I got an ad forwarded to me from someone who pre-ordered Murder Is Binding on Amazon that says, "If like this, you'll like that," and it was for a series (from my publisher) about an interior decorator. Scratch Sabina from ever finding a published life. (Sigh)
So, should Sabina now become Tricia? I don't think so. She's Sabina. But does she have to stay an interior decorator? Maybe not...
In the meantime, I'm still auditioning faces for Tricia.
I wonder where and when she'll pop up?