Characters · WIP Wednesday

Imagining the Man

Okay this post is sort of for Heidi at Inside The Mind of a fantasy writer.  She was generous enough to share her novel Christian’s Kisses on her site.  Tonight she posted some artwork for a potential cover and I found myself having to admit that the picture she used didn’t quite match my vision of him.  Which leads me to an interesting point how much of we what we impose upon the characters we create do we actually create and how much is created by the reader? If we as writers describe someone as the classic tall dark and handsome how does the reader interpret it? And how much of what we visualise as reader is based on those around us?

Meet my familys mystery man.  Well not actually so much of a mystery now as I have tracked him down though sadly to late to ever contact him by several years.  But that is another story.  The point is when Heidi described eyes that looked into your soul and penetrated your very being these are the eyes I imagined.  For most of the time this photo was in my possession I only knew a story he had no name only a vague location and a shadow of a story.  The first time I saw it his eyes freaked me out a little, but they also drew me back and held me captive.  It was his eyes that made me so determined to find out who he was and believe me it was no easy task.  When I think about the literary characters that I have fallen in love with over the years I wonder now how much of what I imagined them to look like was on the page and how much was already there subconciously.  Maybe this is one of the reasons I hate watching dramatisations of books I have loved because the directors, producers, exec’s etc do not share my vision of what the character looks like.  I am a huge Anne Rice fan and love her Vampire Chronicles so was initially excited to hear when Interview With a Vampire was being made into a film until I heard the cast line up…..I admit I am not a huge Tom Cruise fan and even though he did actually do a decent job in the end he is not and cannot ever be MY Lestat.  Brad Pitt as Louis the same applied he was a Louis just not mine.

I think about the characters I am now writing I see them in my head as I believe they look but I wonder what other people will imagine them as. Can they ever really share my vision unless I spend pages in minute details of description for each feature?  Does it really matter if they have their own vision of my characters?  Someone asked me who I would like to play my characters in a film and I could not think of anyone who fit my vision them, they are themselves to me.  So I guess the question is does it really matter if my Christian or Lestat or Louis is different to the authors and when the time comes does it matter if my characters look different to others?

Have you got a character from a book you loved whose on screen image disappointed you? Or to the writers do you ever think about how others see your characters


4 thoughts on “Imagining the Man

  1. There have been too many disappointing characters for me to list when it comes to the on-screen versions of books I love. I’m an avid Wheel of Time, Eye of World fan, and I hear they are making it into a movie. I am seriously wondering if I should see it….If they mess up Rand, I could lose my mind.


  2. I love this post! As a reader we like to make up our own vision of how a character looks, sounds, etc that may be different than the authors. (I do like the picture by the way-you have captured Christian’s eyes). We as the writer of the story know exactly what are characters look like and what their voices are like and I guess as long as we give the right kind of info about our characters people will see them (hopefully) as we envisioned.


  3. Great post!
    I usually try to leave how a character actually looks in real life open for interpretation. I want readers to envision who they want, maybe with a few hints from me – sometimes hair or eye color, but not much more.
    As the writer, I obviously have my own visions of how my own characters appear, but allowing readers to see them as they want (I think) gets them more involved with the story.
    This kind of plays on a lot of people’s (rather racist) reactions to seeing certain characters in The Hunger Games movie as black/African-American when they had originally pictured them as white when they read the book.
    We can never win the heart of all our readers, but sometimes that’s THEIR problem.


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