I mentioned in a short entry over in my Tumblr blog (http://insolentlad.tumblr.com) that I sometimes use pictures of online friends and acquaintances to help me physically visualize my fiction characters. This would be in addition to people I know in real life and celebrity figures.
For example, the gay minstrel who is a major player (of the rebec, ha-ha) in the Donzalo novels is a ringer for Kenneth Branagh (and with some of his over-the-top mannerisms, as well). And the evil-but-conflicted sorcerer, I must admit, looks a lot like Barak Obama (not sure about the ears, though). Shares his somewhat aloof demeanor too (I’m sure the Prez is a much nicer guy...even if they’ve both sold their souls, in their way).
I like to ‘see’ my characters. I am a very visual person, anyway, and a ‘scene’ in my writing is definitely going to play in my head like a scene in a movie. Which may be why I’m sometimes a little sparse with descriptive language — I forget the reader isn’t seeing everything I am.
This means my rewriting largely consists of going back and padding the narrative with extra imagery. All it takes is a few words, the mention of a window or chair or the color of the drapes. Just something to make it a tad more real to the reader. Even if it was already real to me!