Images of Characters, Part I

On the front covers of books, I often see images of people who supposedly represent the characters in the book. I don’t particularly care for that type of cover design because I want to picture the character for myself, not immediately imagine him or her as looking exactly like what I see on the cover. It is for this same reason that I am hesitant to see movies based on books–I don’t want to be shown someone else’s interpretation of the character’s appearance. I had nice mental images of Harry Potter and his friends before the movies came out, but since seeing the movies, I have lost the original mental image of Harry that I once had. Instead, I always think of Daniel Radcliffe, and although that is not unpleasant at all, it’s not true to my original rendering of Harry.

I know a lot of writers who search for images of actors and actresses who look like their characters in an attempt to visualize them, and although I’m not saying this technique is wrong, I personally don’t do it because I don’t want to constrain my imagination. I’ve looked up images of people before in an attempt to find my characters among them, but I have not often succeeded in finding a real person who looks like my character. So instead of wasting my time on Google Images trying to pick out my character’s face, which cannot be found outside of my own imagination anyway, I try to describe the character better so my reader can picture him/her without having to look at the picture on the book jacket.

More on images of characters in a later post…

4 thoughts on “Images of Characters, Part I

  1. This is one of those things, like outlining and character interviews, that people get all “You should definitely do this!” about, and my response is just, “Ahhh, no.”

    This is why I like audio drama so much — you’re not locked onto one idea of what the people look like.

    And one of my major characters has never been described and I have only a very general idea of what he looks like. 🙂

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