One of the best–and the most frustrating–things about writing is that inspiration changes from moment to moment, and characters and plot lines refuse to be contained. In a moment of such inspiration, I’d come up with an archetype for a character in my book. Rather than my normal process of determining a personality type, I wanted to base hers on a look … a certain je ne sais quoi. In so doing, I decided that Jean Harlow would be right.
However, after reviewing a few clips and watching the full-length version of Hell’s Angels (1930), which I loved, by the way, I realized she was wrong for the part. Totally failed the audition and I couldn’t see her in the role. So late last night, when I’d finished the prior sections and it was time for my character’s debut in the book, I began the search anew. I boiled it down to two choices, and today, when I began to write, one image was the obvious winner. It was a smiling shot of a young Gene Tierney. My Juliette doesn’t look precisely like her, in fact, she’s quite different, but the photo fits the personality I had in mind.
Interesting that as I wrote my scene, I pictured and wrote my character wearing a floppy, white hat. Now when I look at images for inspiration, I’m paying little attention to the who or what. I even had to Google the above photo to remember Gene Tierney’s name. However, in so doing, I also found this photo of Gene in a floppy, white hat. I guess I nailed it in some way.
I think that’s how inspiration works. It’s vague, imprecise, mutable. Whatever the process, I’ve gotten the scene down today, and now my character is in my head. No more actress need apply. Juliette is auditioning now, for the book. I think she’ll end up in the final cut and not on the cutting room floor.
We shall see.