Friday, February 24, 2012

How Much Do You Visualize Book Characters?

I adore every hero I've ever written.  They are each sexy and funny and awesome.  And for each one, I use a very specific physical model. I can't begin to write the story until I've figured out exactly which Hollywood hottie I'll be picturing every time my fingers hit the keyboard (current WIP features Dylan McDermott - yum!).  So when my editor asked me yesterday for a description for the art department, I thought it wouldn't be a problem.

And it wasn't - for the hero.  Turns out I slight my heroines a bit.  All of the visualizations of her were from the hero's POV.  So there is much emphasis on lips, for example:

Because he couldn’t help himself, couldn’t resist those glossy pink lips even after all the nonsense she’d spouted from them, he pressed a firm, fast kiss, fighting the urge to take it deeper.  The woman had a mouth built for pleasing a man, and she knew how to use it. 

From that, you definitely get that the hero is attracted to her.  But do you know what she looks like?  Not so much!  I've got details on her perky ponytail, the bow in her hair, strappy sandals and full-skirted dresses.  Obviously, I'm going to go back in and add a bit more detail.  Do men really notice high cheekbones, delicate bone structure, uptilted noses?  I guess mine will have to.

However, this morning someone did a cover reveal where the hero was chopped off at the jaw.  It mostly focused on his naked, taut abs (not complaining, trust me!).  I realized there are many covers, from historical to contemporary to paranormal, where you simply are not shown faces AT ALL.  Is this to leave it up to our imagination?  Does that mean those authors skimp a bit on detail, too?  And is that okay? 

When you are deeply engrossed in a book, do you constantly visualize the characters, like a movie running in your head?  Do you just notice their overall type (short, tall, rangy, bosom-y), or truly focus on the hero's Roman nose, and the heroine's heavy-lidded sultry eyes?  Let me know!


  1. I agree, visuals are important for me as well. I have an idea in mind of what my characters look like and I try to find that perfect match! Example: Nate Catriona (my fav character in my series) Model: Thomas Dekker! He's just so darn cute! I find that I don't put quite so much detail in my writing as I would like. I'm tried in the past but somehow it ends up coming out as one massive info dump, (which we all know is not good) But if a writer can pull off a great description without info dumping that helps me paint an even better picture than I started with...I'm in. I love a good visual!

  2. I had a visual in my head for the hero during my first draft, but it wasn't until I started revising that I hunted for my real life visual. The closest I came to was Toby Stephens when he played Mr. Rochester. So during revision I added little details to fit, but he's not exactly him. I also skimp on the heroine! It's funny though, people will pick their own visual--one of my beta readers pictured the actor who played Mr. Darcy in Lost in Austen...

    Who did you the in mind for the heroes in the cruise book?

    BTW, I couldn't comment using WordPress login; for some reason with Captcha on blogger it no longer works...

  3. Hi Angela - thanks for asking! In Cruising Toward Love, Nate is played by Ben Browder, and Reed by Michael Shanks (yup, I watched a lot of Stargate SG-1, and gosh those boys are HOT!)

  4. Absolutely do! I've been using pinterest to gather pics of people who look like hero/heroine. Think it's hard describing heroine from hero's POV because I know that when blokes I know are checking out girl's they fancy they are rather er... Direct in their thoughts!