Saturday, January 15, 2011

As it turns out, I have a type

In an effort to keep the creative, non-PowerPoint-oriented part of my brain limber and engaged, I poked around in some old files I had in the My Documents folder I transferred from my previous laptop. In that folder was a file labeled, "Gone: Character Sketches."

I had a two or three paragraph description of the four main characters I'd originally thought up: Michael Sullivan, Ryan O'Malley, Grace O'Malley, and Jack Sullivan.

The file was dated September 18, 2000.

Since they were drafted, Ryan, Grace, and Jack's characters have changed shape and significance to the story, and I think I'll probably only pull a few of the original physical descriptions, such as:


28 years old. Lean, roughly 6 foot. At first glance, looks too "small" to be a cop, but is all muscle. Dark hair, cut short, spiked up in front around a widow's peak. Gray eyes. Crooked smile. Married to Sara (artist), born to be a cop. Protective -- one has to work to be part of his inner circle, but once you're there, you're in for life.

(I'd also included a scar on his hand from a childhood incident that I'm no longer going to have happen, and I added a lot of background that doesn't hold true of my new direction for the story. But I like the look of this guy and it fits the character he's always been in my mind--with one exception. I think I'll make his eyes brown because gray eyes feels a bit...gimmicky. And I can picture him with laughing brown eyes that go flat and cold in a second.)


26 years old. Average build (size 8, 5'5", curvy, not thin, etc), curly black hair that she tends to tie in a knot at the back of her head rather than cut. Same gray eyes and smile as Ryan. Loves music, obsessed with Zeppelin, can't sing or play a note. Keeps journals -- has boxes of them from when she was seven and first met Michael.

(Again, I included a background for Grace that matched Ryan's {as they are siblings}, but I'm going a different direction. I also think I might straighten her hair because I've never dealt with naturally curly hair and I've learned from friends that there is a whole level of frustration to think about there {in real life}. Other than that, I'm keeping her looks--again, with the exception of the eyes.)

I'm changing pretty much everything I originally wrote about Jack because his character is now a pivotal piece of the puzzle where before he was simply a catalyst. But it's Michael's description that caught my eye and had me chuckling to myself. Especially because, while the others will all play key roles, Michael is the hero of my story.

Thinking back, I wrote these descriptions after I met my husband, but before we were married. The reason that is interesting is that I can see some elements of my old boyfriend -- who was a cowboy -- in Michael. But there's someone else there as well. Someone I hadn't even 'met' when I wrote these, but I certainly fell into the pull of his undertow the minute he came on scene.


26 years old. Lean, muscular, roughly 6'. Slightly bowed legs, powerful arms. Sandy hair, cut short (not quite military). Green eyes. Small scar just below his left eye from an incident during his youth that he can't remember. Full lips, strong hands. A few thin, white scars across his hands from working his way through school as a mechanic.

Wears his older brother's leather jacket like a badge of honor. Spent his spare time in college restoring his father's Shelby GT 500, and loves it almost as much as Grace. Indulges her love of music, but can sing. He's quick to anger if someone he loves (namely Ryan or Grace) is hurt in any way -- he's protective, but cool-headed, balancing out Ryan's temper.

Never wanted to be a cop, but knows his way around weapons because of O'Malley Sr. Works as a writer, can't remember what happened to his family beyond his brother leaving for Vietnam when Michael was seven. Has nightmares due to what happened in his past and a tendency to drink a bit more than Grace or Ryan would like.

When I read that, I actually laughed out loud. It isn't a mirror image of Dean Winchester, but it was close enough to justify my falling for that character so fast and so hard and not being able to let him go.

I didn't start assigning "actors" to my characters until I started to write fanfic, but now that I've done that with fanfic stories, I find it hard not to think of who might play these characters in the movie in my mind. Jensen Ackles would very easily fit the bill for Michael. It's already easy to picture him when I write Dean, and while Michael's story isn't Dean's -- not even close -- there are elements of Dean in the way this character moves I can use to help me picture Michael in a much more realistic manner.

While we're at it, one of the reasons I'm thinking of changing Ryan's eyes to brown is that the change to his character and his motivation in the updated outline of the story could very easily fit a Colin Farrell-type actor. I don't yet know who I picture for Grace. The three women in the story -- Grace, Sara, and Tessa (who may be renamed) -- are all a bit nebulous at the moment as far as looks or who could 'play' them.

Right now, they're important because of how they each affect Michael. But as I bring the new outline to life, they each have a story to tell and a distinctive piece of the puzzle to add. I think the next step in character development might be to figure out who they look like to me. Help me see them as clearly as I see Michael.


  1. Your Michael does sound slightly familiar :)
    How cool is it you wrote it before you ever heard of Dean or saw Jensen portraying him. & did you notice the date? 18th of September.. rings a bell? ;)

  2. What happened on September 18th?? *wracks brain*

  3. I think that's the date of Dean's ressurection in 2008.. no? LOL I'm way too invested in the show to remember that :)