How a Figment of My Own Imagination Killed the Crankies

I recently went back to work on my NaNo novel.  I decided that, before I edited (and rewrote) too much, I should gather all the background information that I didn’t do the first time.  So, I am redoing my outline, accommodating the new direction, and creating character and setting descriptions.

Yesterday, I spent the day making the characters who I want them to be.  For the most part, I used the characteristics I had already written, only making changes to accommodate the plot changes.  I finished the questionnaire I use for two characters, and am hoping to get to the remaining characters today.

I woke up this morning with a headache on a rainy day.  To be honest, I was feeling a little cranky.  When the dog decided it would be a great idea to eat some leaves off of Pookie’s favorite tree, my mood sank even further.

Add to that the issues I am having with my new phone (my brother and I switched over the weekend), and everyone should be glad that they are not in my house today.

I debated going back to bed, but instead I went to the computer, hoping some writing would put me in a better mood.  I talked to a few #pubwriters, which always helps.  Then I started flipping through the open windows on my computer, trying to figure out where I left off.  That’s when I saw it.

I have mentioned this before, but I was given the suggestion to use pictures of an actor or model for a visual of my characters.  Yesterday, as I was developing the characters, I also put together photo collages of people I felt looked most like them.

One of the collages, of a character named Matt, was still open on my computer.

Now, this is probably my favorite character in the book.  He is extremely intelligent, hardworking, loyal, with a heart of gold.  That is not to say he is perfect—he certainly is not.

This is a character that wasn’t supposed to be in the story.  He just popped up as a minor character, then kept showing back up.  He ended up being a main character in a storyline that I hadn’t planned on at all.  He simply took on a life of his own, but made the story better in the long run.

At one point in the story, two characters sit and talk about Matt, comparing him to Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  So, of course, I created a photo collage with 15 pictures of JDM.  Rough job, really.  🙂

As I looked at the collage, I pictured this character, not the actor, smiling out at me from the computer.  And it made me smile.  I am not sure how or why, but it instantly transported me to another place, and gave me the motivation to get to work.

Obviously, this character has a story to tell (after all, he is pretty persistent!), and it is my job to tell it.  And that realization just made my day. 🙂

Have you ever had a character come out of nowhere and then take over the story?  Or a character that the mere thought of made you smile?  For those that use pictures of actors for a visual of characters, when you see the actor in a movie or on television, do you see the character they are playing, or do you automatically see the character they are playing in your book?

Does anyone else think those pictures would have made me smile even if they weren’t tied to such a great character? 😉

Don’t forget, you have until midnight to submit your suggestions for the new title of our blog (enter here)! 🙂 You could win a $25 gift card to your choice of Amazon or Barnes and Noble. 😀

About Susi Borath

Susi Borath finds time to write between freelance marketing jobs, minor league baseball games, creating new cookie recipes, and juggling more laundry than any two people should be able to produce. You can find more about her at or follow @susiborath on Twitter.
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6 Responses to How a Figment of My Own Imagination Killed the Crankies

  1. Karen DeLabar says:

    Yeah, he’s hot 😉

    It reminds me of my flashy eyed guy who popped up in my contemporary romance and turned it into a paranormal. Oh, and I found out his name is Alastair so I don’t have to call him my flashy-eyed guy (even though I still do) 😉

    I like when the characters take over, makes my job a whole lot easier!

    • Susan Borath says:

      I do, too, actually. This one cam out of nowhere and just took over the story. I am glad I just went with it, because he really is a great character!

      And Alastair will always be the flashy-eyed guy! 🙂

  2. Amy Cavenaugh says:

    Ooooh Jeffrey Dean Morgan! He was on my favorite show the first season – did ya know? 😉 Supernatural. He played the father of the two main characters, the Winchester Brothers. That is one HOT family! 😀 But part of what makes them so hot is the characters they play, the realness of their relationships. You believed they were family. Anyway, that wasn’t the point of the blog, was it? 😉

    I do often smile when I think of my characters. I base them on real people too & also keep photos of them up on my computer when I’m trying to write. It really helps me. When I use actors and watch a movie they’re in, I see the character they’re playing not the character from my story. Although I may think to myself “he is gonna rock that scene when my book is made into a movie.” 🙂

    Good luck w/ your contest! I wish I had a great idea for you. Alas, I do not. I still haven’t come up w/ a title for my WIP. Doh!

    • Susan Borath says:

      I didn’t know that was your favorite show, but I did know he was on there. Always found it amusing, since JDM is only 12 years older than Jensen Ackles.

      Seriously, that is a nice looking family, though. I was obsessed with Jensen Ackles in college when he was on Days of our Life. I used to arrange my classes around the show just so I could see him (probably shouldn’t admit that)!

      I haven’t started seeing my characters instead of the one the actor is portraying yet, but I have heard writers say it happens. If I use an actress on a TV show, I try to make sure the character is nothing like the one they are playing, just so I don’t have that problem. 🙂

      • Amy Cavenaugh says:

        Oh I LOVE Jensen Ackles 😀 He’s my 2nd biggest crush. It is funny JDM played his dad but they are such good actors I didn’t even question it. Not to mention easy on the eyes ;). Speaking of Days of Our Lives, Supernatural had a funny episode recently where the characters were in an alternate universe where they were the actors Jensen Ackles & Jared Padalecki & when they were researching who they were, they found an episode of Days of Our Lives on YouTube and the character was like OMG. It was so funny!

        I do the same where I make sure the character isn’t anything like the role the actor is playing on TV or in a movie. I really do think it helps to have a real person in mind. I always have, at least with the main characters.

  3. Aden says:

    Good lord that man is just sex on a stick. *fans self*

    Right what was I saying? Oh yes, characters. I have had some just jump out of nowhere at me. My job has me looking at names all day and sometimes a character will jump out at me after seeing a name. (I love that)

    I figured out that finding actors to “cast” my novel and making it a wallpaper was really helpful in keepng me motivated. And I think if I ever saw these actors on tv and such, I would immediately think of my characters.

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