Saturday, October 17, 2015

Weekend Wildcard - Visualisation

We're delighted to welcome Harlequin Super Romance author, Angel Smits, to the Pink Heart Society as she talks about how she copes with not being able to "see" her characters.

It came as a bit of a shock, a few years ago, when I learned I was different than most writers. I’ve written stories since I was a kid, so it never occurred to me to ask others what they saw in their heads…because, well, I don’t exactly see things. 

At a workshop, a friend talked about the movie she saw in her head. I looked at her like she’d lost her mind. “You what?” I asked. She looked at me like I was just as crazy when my answer was that I see, and sometimes hear, the words. 

As I said, it was a bit of a shock. I was suddenly quite jealous because I wanted to see my characters, see what they looked like and what they were doing. I actually spent some time after that trying to force my brain to create pictures. It didn’t work, mind you, but I did learn a few new tricks to help myself with my writing. And I’ve learned some of my weaknesses throughout this process. For one, choreography is a huge challenge for me. Since I don’t see what they’re doing, describing movement is difficult. And second, it’s really easy to mix up what people and things look like as I work through a longer book. 

So I’ve learned to compensate. I collect pictures.

I love magazines and will spent time just cutting out random pictures. That way when I need inspiration, or to identify my characters, I have a whole collection to rummage through. I do this when I first start a story and put together a collection—sometimes even a collage.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, I won’t find what I’m looking for when I’m desperate in that final scene. What does that look like? What do they look like? And most searches on the internet at the last minute become nothing but an excuse for procrastination, not research. I have found the magic of Pinterest and have boards for each of my books there. But again, that whole procrastinating on the internet is a problem when I get there. It’s addicting! 

When I decided to do a series for Harlequin Super Romance, I knew I had to put some serious time into my picture hunt. There had to be consistency for all six of the books I had planned. The house had to look the same. The things they all had in common had to stay consistent. And even while I wanted to wait to find my specific pictures of my characters until THEIR book (I need that to kick start my ideas for specific stories) I knew I had to find pictures of people who actually looked like they might be related since they are brothers and sisters. 

That’s when I decided I had to put together a whole board. I’m so glad I did! I’d be lost if I hadn’t. Now I can reference the whiteboard I have over my computer, with a single glance (and I don’t have to go back and read half a book to remember like I used to.)

I can make notes on the board as I go along, as well. Otherwise, I’m quite sure everything would “look” different in each book. For example, I look at the picture of Wyatt’s kitchen (the oldest brother and the first book of the series), which has been in three books so far, and tell myself, “Oh, yeah it has to have this color walls, and the table has to have those same benches.” I have caught myself messing it up a couple times now. 

I also know that my readers will each see different things, probably not even coming close to what I see. But at least I’m consistent, so hopefully, they’ll visualize something consistent, too. And maybe when they are in Wyatt’s kitchen in my current release, COWBOY DADDY, they’ll get a sense of coming home, like I did as I wrote it.

Do you visualise characters when you write, or are you like Angel, and turn to pictures for help|?  Join our discussion in the comments!

Angel's latest release, Cowboy Daddy, is out now:

He loves them too much to stay.

Lane Beaumont has always loved Amanda Hawkins. If his life weren't such a mess he'd want much more than their current on-again, off-again relationship. But Amanda deserves a better life than he can offer. So when she gives birth to their son, Lane does the right thing and walks away.

Amanda should be devastated. Except his reaction doesn't make sense. The Lane she knows would never turn his back on her or his responsibilities. Plus, she saw that cowboy's heart melt when he held their son. Something else is standing in the way of their happiness and she won't stop until she finds out what.

To find out more about Angel Smits, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Thanks for a look into you process. Since I see the pictures (Movies) in my head, this gave me insight into other processes that work. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

  2. Thanks for stopping by. I think the sharing is half the fun of the writing world!