Monday, April 9, 2012

Writing, Character Inspiration, and Pinterest

So... I discovered Pinterest...

And now my life is centered on making dinner from recipes I found on Pinterest, emailing my husband funny pics I found on Pinterest while he's at work, pinning people and places and things that remind me of my story ideas on Pinterest... etc, etc, etc.

Now, major time suckage aside, Pinterest is a pretty cool place for writers to be.

I've started following any other writers I can find and they all seem to have at least one Pinboard dedicated to their craft. Maybe it's called "The Writing Life," or "The Creative Life," or "Novel Inspiration."

I have one called IDEA BOX that I am very much in love with.

However, what has become very obvious as I browse these writerly boards and pin more pictures and ideas to my own board is that many writers have ideas of what their main characters look like from people that they have actually seen before.

Maybe it's the lead singer of a band they recently discovered (guilty), that kid that longboards down your street at approximately 3:07 PM every weekday (guilty), or the small forward for your favorite NBA team (guilty). Wherever these people are seen, they can serve as great inspiration as the writer tries to create characters that are well-rounded and interesting.

However, what bothers me about this is that many writerly folks will post a picture of a famous actor or actress, or a beautiful person who is clearly a model, and will write underneath, "This is what Gray looks like," "An older version of Genevieve," etc.

I feel like most writers have done this at some point. Most likely their main characters do not look EXACTLY like the beautiful person from the picture, but the fact that the beautiful person serves as inspiration for most characters is annoying to me.

Because when a reader picks up a book written about a main character they identify with very closely, they imagine themselves in that character's life, as if they were a real-live person. Often, they actually imagine and feel that they ARE that character. This transmutation is such a real feeling and it is one that I love to experience as a reader and that I hope to create as a writer.

However, what if those readers knew that the characters they identify with so easily were created by the writer with an appearance akin to perfection, based on a model found in the pages of Vogue, a character from Vampire Diaries, or another beautiful person who is essentially PAID TO BE BEAUTIFUL?

I feel like this realization would break the spell cast by the writing itself, by the act of reading itself, because the reader finds that they were identifying with a person who, if they were part of this world, would be gracing the pages of fashion magazines and could star in their own reality TV show, if they were so inclined.

Does anyone else see a problem with the way that writer's today portray their characters or love interests? Does anyone else feel that characters should be just as flawed PHYSICALLY as they are personally or emotionally?


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