Within sight of my desk, I have two bulletin boards covered in maps, charts, name lists, time lines, and—most important—pictures of our characters. I was once told the walls around my writing space look like a teenager's room. And the boards are a mess, with stuff tacked willy-nilly in layers three and four deep. I never take anything down. I just cover it up with new pictures. This is pretty weird behavior for someone who has her spices in alphabetical order and her jewelry organized by color and season.
I like a visual. Though she doesn't need it herself, Stephanie understands this. She has drawn maps of towns, house plans, and ships. I need those things for logistics. (How far is it from the heroine's candy shop to the courthouse? Is it feasible for her to walk? Is her best friend's interior design business on the way?)
Stephanie can't help me with the character pictures. It has to be right for me. It would be easier if I could flip through a magazine with no preconceived idea of the character's physical attributes until I find something that pleases me, but that's not how it works. I always know what he looks like. Which may lead you to ask, "Then why do you need a picture?"—which leads me to answer, "I don't know but I do." And I have to wait for it to come to me; waiting is hard.
I am very excited because Nathan (the hero of our new WIP) arrived in the mail on Thursday, right on a Bath and Body works advertisement. The picture isn't perfect, but it's darn close. Twilight Woods for Him Nathan has blue eyes and my Nathan is brown eyed. Twilight Woods for Him Nathan has contrived five o'clock shadow and if my Nathan has five o'clock shadow, it's because it's five o'clock and he hasn't been able to get home to shave yet.
You will never find a hero of ours who is not clean shaven. She likes them dark and I like them blond; she likes a short hair cut and I like for him to have enough locks to toss. But Stephanie and I agree wholeheartedly on the facial hair thing.
Incidentally, our Nathan would never use Twilight Woods for Him. In fact, he's not going to the mall. He's more likely to buy Suave at the convenience store or use what some woman left in his shower.
Do you need a visual? Are there any physical attributes that we will never see in your characters?