Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Margaret Moore: Visual Inspiration

I'm going to make a confession. As much as I enjoy a handsome male face and ripped abs, and sometimes tell people it's part of my job as a romance writer to look at attractive men (because really, if you want to write a medieval or Dark Ages romance about a good-looking guy, what's not to find inspiring about Gerard Butler in his Beowulf ensemble?), I've discovered I don't really use such visual inspiration for my heroes. In fact, I rarely visualize my main characters at all. I "hear" them much more than I "see" them.

It's my theory/excuse that that's one reason I don't like to outline. I get to know my characters through dialogue, and I need to get 'em gabbing to really figure out what makes them tick. So when I'm thinking about my story and merrily typing away, I'm not watching a movie so much as eavesdropping. If I do "see" my characters, it's only their eyes or lips.

However, I've also discovered I like to model my villains' looks after actors. For instance, right now, and no doubt to his surprise, Colm Feore is about to portray the Big Bad in the work-in-progress. Richard Armitage is already portraying the Slime.

Not that I think these guys are evil or anything. What they have is intensity, and amazing eyes. My villains are nothing if not determined to get what they want, and these guys protray that in spades. See what I mean? (Colm Feore is on the left, Richard Armitage on the right.)

That's why I loved Colm Feore in Julius Ceasar, and why I can hardly wait to see Richard Armitage as Sir Guy of Gisborne in the new BBC production of Robin Hood.

But here's the other thing: my heroes have intensity and determination and amazing eyes, too. Because in my mind, there's often a very thin line between a hero and a villain, and it's drawn by motivation more than anything else.

Anybody else think so, or am I weird that way?


Allison Littlehales said...

I totally agree Margaret. At the last R.N.A conference Elizabeth Hawksley held a fansanatic talk about creating villans, saying how easy it was to fall in love with them. Interestingly, she also said that the best villans were a product of their own space and time, which was something that hadn't occured to me before.

Margaret Moore said...

I think that's certainly true to some extent, but I also think all villains, whatever time they inhabit, act solely from self-interest. Somewhere along the way, they came to believe they must get what they want at any cost, whether because they deserve it, or because somebody else doesn't.

Heroes, on the other hand, will sacrifice their own needs/desires for somebody else, sometimes even complete strangers.

lisa watson said...

I agree with Margaret (though I am an Outliner). I think the best books are those in which the villain could just as easily be the hero; when the writer creates a character with all the supposed "perfections" of the hero. It provides the reader with a moral conundrum I think. But in all these books one underlying flaw exists in the villain that does not exist in the hero, and that's selfishness -- the inability to consistently put someone else's welfare before his own. It is the test the villain fails and it forever separates him from the hero in the reader's mind.

Terri Brisbin said...

I do collect photos and images of lots of my favorite visual inspirations, but for one of my villains, I found him at a local Celtic fair! He was not in costume or anything, but was just a regular guy...I manuevered into position near him at one of the exhibit tables and had a friend take a picture of me near him! LOL!

I admit it - I have hundreds of images and photos (and movie bits) of Gerard Butler...he is the object of my current visual obsession (replacing the still-gorgeous Adrian Paul from HIGHLANDER). I am looking forward to seeing James Purefoy (Vanity Fair, ROME, etc) as a medieval knight in this weekend's SciFi channel movie - Dragon Sword..

Terri, the ever-shallow!

Tess said...

Didn't you just LOVE Beowulf? I did :-)

And a new production of Robin Hood? Cool. Though I did love the old one with Michael Praed/Jason Connery. Still, time does move on *g*.