July 02, 2010

Creating A Casting Book

I am singing the praises of Kaye Dacus today! I have been reading through her Writing Series Index on her website and it is a treasure cove of writer helps! Here is a list of just a few of the topics in her writing series:

  • Top Ten Writer Tips
  • Creating Credible Characters
  • Making POV Work For You
  • Manuscript 101 (formating & more)
  • Voice
  • Writing the Romance Novel
  • The Inspirational Element
The topic I want to highlight today is Be Your Own Casting Director. Kaye has written a 6 part series on creating a casting book to help storyboarding. Click on the link to get to the first of her series. She goes into great detail on the "how to's" and the "why's". Today I want to show you how I took her instructions and started my own! 

First, Kaye showed how she keeps a spreadsheet of movie stars, models, professional ball players, etc who she thinks would make great models for a character. She then inputs their info (hair color, eye color, height, birthdate, etc) into a spreadsheet. She can sort this spreadsheet to look for actors with blue eyes or actresses with brown hair to find one to represent a character she is developing. See her series to download her spreadsheet template. You can then use it as is, or do as I did and delete the names I didn't know and start adding names of my own. 

Here is a picture of my spreadsheet:


Now that you've found the actress you are looking for, you can go to your Casting Book to find pictures of her to spark your writing and give you different facial expressions to use in your writing.

Now, you need to visit Kaye's site to get detailed instructions on how to do this, but basically, you use Power Point to organize photos of actors. It is like a catalog of headshots that you can look through to choose your ideal character! Create a slide for each actor and alphabetize for easy sorting. Kaye has so many that she creates a folder for each letter of the alphabet.

Here is a look at one that I created:


Now isn't that the coolest thing? Seriously, this is so easy and so much fun. Annnd, it is a GREAT way to procrastinate your editing. ;)

So what is your way of creating the look of your characters? Are you visual and need pictures? Or do you have it all in your head?

P.S. Remember to check out Kaye Dacus! She not only has great writing tips, but is a fabulous author of both contemporary and historical fiction.


ADDENDUM: Kay left a comment which I thought was so cool, I wanted to add it here. Another new tool for you.....



I'm going to throw everyone for a loop and add a new twist to this . . . in addition to keeping my casting book images in Power Point (and I have a folder for "actors" and one for "actresses," with a separate document for each letter of the alphabet), for my last two novels, I've incorporated Microsoft One Note, which came with MS Office 2007, as the place where I collect all of the images I need for my WIP. 
I posted screen captures of them in this post:
http://kayedacus.com/2010/06/10/writing-tip-7-i-should-probably-write-that-down/ 
Another great resource for collecting images of characters are stock photo sites. My favorite is http://www.jupiterimages.com. I set up an account (a username/password) so that the images don't have watermarks on them. It's where I found the heroines for books 2 and 3 of the Matchmakers series---and they actually used one of the images I selected for the front cover of The Art of Romance. See---while it's fun to do, it can also come in quite handy when sending cover-art info to a publisher!



20 comments:

  1. Love her! Great resources out there, thanks for sharing. :O)

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  2. Oooh! Thanks for the tip. I'm off to check out her site. Anything to procrastinate!!!

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  3. This looks like fun, fun, fun! I've found almost all my characters in magazines and catalogs, though. Creating a bulletin board of characters using magazine tearsheets was another way fun form of procrastination. :-)

    It really does help with character voice when you can look him or her in the eye.

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  4. I owe what I know about writing to Kaye Dacus. ;-) And I absolutely cannot live without character casting. It's the first thing I do when I get an idea. I keep a "Character Casting" folder, with sub-folders arranged by celebrity name in which I hold the pics I've collected. Sooooo much fun and my very, very favorite part of writing.

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  5. Last week it was the wordle and now this! How freaking cool!! (Plus, I like Ashton Kutcher...he's not too hard on the eyes). I'll have to check this stuff out, Sherrinda.

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  6. Hi Sherrinda -

    Thanks for the info and links.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  7. I've never heard of her! I'm so thrilled you posted, I'm going there now to check it out. Have a great fourth Sherrinda!

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  8. Diane, I love her too! She is incredibly nice and has the most gorgeous eyes, don't you think?

    Linda, have fun procrastinating with Kaye's tools! It's very addictive!

    Laurel, I've heard of authors creating a posterboard for their characters. I've never done that, but I can see how that would be helpful to have it on your desk, right before your eyes continually.

    Alexandra, I am learning alot from her as well. She is extremely knowledgeable and has a way of explaining things to make sense.

    Katie, I'm all about gadgets and tools to help. (anything to procrastinate editing!). And yes, Ashton is dreamy!

    Susan, you are so welcome!

    T.Anne, you will love her site and will find yourself spending hours there, going through her writing series! It's amazing.

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  9. I'm going to throw everyone for a loop and add a new twist to this . . . in addition to keeping my casting book images in Power Point (and I have a folder for "actors" and one for "actresses," with a separate document for each letter of the alphabet), for my last two novels, I've incorporated Microsoft One Note, which came with MS Office 2007, as the place where I collect all of the images I need for my WIP.

    I posted screen captures of them in this post:
    http://kayedacus.com/2010/06/10/writing-tip-7-i-should-probably-write-that-down/

    Another great resource for collecting images of characters are stock photo sites. My favorite is http://www.jupiterimages.com. I set up an account (a username/password) so that the images don't have watermarks on them. It's where I found the heroines for books 2 and 3 of the Matchmakers series---and they actually used one of the images I selected for the front cover of The Art of Romance. See---while it's fun to do, it can also come in quite handy when sending cover-art info to a publisher!

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  10. Ooooohhhhh! I got MS Office 2007 last year and had no idea what to do with the One Note. But reading your article and getting a close up view of your screen shots makes me soooo excited! Seriously, I think the One Note will be a fabulous tool! I had messed around with a little bit, but couldn't figure out what to use it for, but seeing your tabs at the top and your pages on the side...well, it is a great way to organize.

    Thanks so much for sharing more of your organizational skills.

    Oh, one more thing...on the Jupiter Images. When it says Royalty Free, does that mean you can copy it and use it? Or do you have to purchase it?


    How in the world do you have time to get all this accomplished? I'm just amazed. And who is the cute guy on your desktop?

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  11. This is a great resource; thanks for sharing it.
    Happy 4th!
    Blessings,
    Karen :)

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  12. Wow, this is a fantastic way to procrastinate, I mean WORK on THINGS. Haha. Thanks for posting this and thanks to Kaye for the update in the comments too!

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  13. Thank you so much for posting this and the link. The closest I have come is when an actor or actress appeals to me while I am watching something I will do a quick search, grab a pic and save it in a folder called "characters". That is about as organized as I have gotten. Sometimes I've actually assigned one to a story. I have stared using OneNote though and LOVE IT! Now, off to follow the links you provided. I am all about procastination . . er . . I mean organization.

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  14. On stock image sites, "royalty free" means that the publisher pays a flat fee to use the image, rather than paying the site a fee for each unit produced using that image.

    You're not supposed to use any of the images in a public place (like on your blog or anywhere like that) without paying for them . . . unless you're pointing people back toward the site where you found it (like when I use the images I found that ended up being used for The Art of Romance)---kind of like the difference between quoting a passage from a book or "sharing" the entire text of a book.

    But for personal use, to put them in your casting book, no, you don't have to pay for them.

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  15. Wow. Looks like a ton of fun! Kaye is one creative lady. And so are you!

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  16. Karen, thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a happy 4th too!

    Faith, of all the ways to procrastinate, this is by far my favorite!

    Amy, I have been trying to get to know the OneNote and am loving it too! What an excellent tool to organize stuff!

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  17. Kaye, thanks for the info on Jupiter. It has a lot of wonderful pictures of real looking women. Not just the airbrushed, surgically enhanced kind of faces. ;)

    I have to tell you...I dreamed of OneNote and Power Point Slides last night! lolol I am so excited about them!

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  18. Jeanette, I am a creative person by nature, so this kind of stuff just gets me so excited! LOVE it!

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  19. FANTASTIC post, Sherrinda.
    Really, you should have used this on The Writers Alley. I think you should think about it.
    Wow - isn't Kaye's website/blog AWESOME!! I've learned so much.
    Looking forward to reading your next chapter tonight :-)

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  20. Wow. Lots of organization here, something I can use.

    Thanks!
    Patti

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