How Do You Picture Your Characters?

When I first picture my characters, they’re kind of faceless, perfect specimens. I can see their eyes, but not in their faces. Or their noses, but not on their faces. The jawline, the full lips, the wavy hair… whatever. Each perfect individual characteristic, but not the whole picture.

I kind of like it that way. I can describe these people, but I never have to be disappointed by the sum of their parts falling short.

Unfortunately, romance covers tend to have people on them. And my publisher loves to do that, despite my misgivings. (There’s also the fact that I fantasize about these books becoming movies or TV shows someday. But I digress…) I don’t have a bajillion dollars to do a casting call and hire the perfect models for my covers.

But I do consider actors for the roles.

So if you’re wondering who I’ve considered for the parts, you can visit my Pinterest Page and see who I’ve pictured for a lot of the characters in my works.

But if you’re wondering who I’m currently picturing as Vinnie and Jo, look no further.

Photo by Frazier Harrison/Getty Images

For Vinnie, I see The Last Ship actor Bren Foster. Not only does he have the right coloring, rugged good looks, and similar hair style, he’s actually an accomplished martial artist like Vinnie as well. (Yes, I have an obsession with martial arts, as you’ve probably guessed. Both of my kids are black belts… Seth a second degree, Sammi a first. I write the stuff into a lot of my work.) If you want to see some really cool and impressive Tae Kwon Do work and fighting sequences, watch the Bren Foster videos on YouTube here and here.

Photo by Frazier Harrison/Getty Images

For Jo I see Stitchers actress Allison Scagliotti. Through the years her hair has been short and red (although now it’s long and auburn and gorgeous!), so I know she can pull off Jo’s look. She’s of Italian descent (always a plus). And she does sarcasm and strength as well as anyone in the business.

So there you have my current choices for the leads in Mind Control, which released on Friday ( Amazon | NookiBooks | Kobo). Are you familiar with these characters? Did you picture them like this, like other actors, or are you like me and kind of go with the faceless forms?

And writers, what about you? Do you see actors for your characters when you write?

Let’s talk about it. Leave me a comment and we’ll discuss it.

Published by Staci Troilo

A writer fascinated with interpersonal relationships, the importance of family, and the relevance of heritage. Learn more at

8 thoughts on “How Do You Picture Your Characters?

  1. Like you, I don’t like to have people on the covers. I like to picture in my mind what the characters should look like from the description. Somehow, my vision of the characters never matches those on the covers. I like my mental pictures much better. So there you have it. Even if the book has one look, I imagine another.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like you a character comes to me not fully formed (physically), specific traits but not the whole. I’ve stopped limiting myself to just actors or musicians though. I do a search for certain hair types, or tattoos or, well you get the picture. A lot of my characters are now based physically on unknown models for hairstyles and such. Sometimes I take two photos and pick specific traits from both to create one character. It gets easier as I continue to practice my craft.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I tend to think of actors or singers for a “preliminary” description, then I build from that. Guess I’m lucky with writing suspense – I don’t need the main characters on the cover, but a dark deserted road, abandoned factory, etc. In my WIP I have a character that has a scar across his chin. I looked up photos of a younger Harrison Ford (who of course has a scar across his chin). While my character doesn’t look like Harrison Ford, photos of him helped me get a visual image of certain facial features. Plus a younger Harrison Ford wasn’t bad to look at, either!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the younger Harrison Ford much better. Not because of his looks, but because he didn’t wear the earring then. It’s pretty cool that you kind of work backward from how I do. Looks like we found a way we differ!

      You’re right; suspense covers do have the luxury of spooky locales rather than sexy couples. If I were Nora Roberts, I could get away with no people. (Like that would be the thing I’d be most happy about if I were Nora Roberts.)

      Thanks for commenting, Joan.


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