Oct 10, 2011

Posted by in Question | 16 Comments

Question – Do You Ever Picture a Character Differently Than He/She’s Written?

When I read, I may skim over the description of a building or the description of a park or the description of a room.  I may skim over what a character is eating or what a character is driving.  But what I never skim over is the description of how a character looks.  I need to have an image in my head.  To be honest, the image that my mind creates is usually a little hazy, even after reading the authors words telling me what color their hair is and what tone their skin is, but I still pay close attention so I can at least gets some sort of photo in my mind of who I am following for the duration of the book that I’m reading.

But sometimes, no matter how often I read the author’s description of a character, I still can’t get the visual “right”.  Do I still get a picture in my mind?  Absolutely.  But sometimes it just really doesn’t match the description.

An example would be Strider from Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series.  He is one of my most favorite characters in that series.  I have read about him in eight books for goodness’ sake!  Yet I still can’t get the ‘right’ visual to stick in my head!  He is described as having blond hair and blue eyes.  The blue eyes I’m good with.  But the hair…I can’t get the image of Strider in my head to have blond hair.  He has brown hair.  Sometimes he even pops up in my head with blue hair!  That’s Gideon, not Strider!  What is THAT about?!

Funny though how I never not get the manly and perfect physique down pat in my mind’s eye… *g*

So how about you?  Do you ever picture a character differently than he/she’s written?

  1. I have the same problem with Striker. My Striker has black hair.
    I’m pretty sure this happens with others but I don’t remember which ones. I usually realize my mistake when I see the cover of the book and notice “my” character is completely different than the one in the picture. 🙂

  2. Yes! I do this quite a lot actually. I can’t remember what book it was but I’m sure the description of the hero was tall, dark hair and dark skinned but it’s not how I imagined the hero to be at all! Oooooh so glad I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t see Strider with blond hair! I was like O.o then pretended it never said that 😀

  3. So true. I think it may be blond hair in general. Wraith is supposed to be blond but my Wraith is dark hair. Maybe I have a thing against blond heroes? LOL

  4. In Katee Robert’s debut (she’s my crit partner and brilliant…everyone should read this book), Queen of Swords that’s coming out in early 2012, there is a character that’s an albino. For whatever reason, in my head, she looks like Zoe Saldana. As hard a I try, I can’t flip the switch in my brain to make her albino.

  5. Pretty much all heroes have dark hair in my mind. I guess it just depends on your personal preferences. I love guys with brown/black or even reddish brown hair. It is rare for me to find blonde men that I lust after. I guess that is why I always pick dark hair.

  6. LOL! Well yes sometimes I have my own ideas 😉

  7. Oh my!! I thought I was the only one with that Strider complex, lol. No matter how hard I try he has dark hair in my mind. At one point, when I figured out I had such a problem, was when she was looking in the bushes and saw a flash of dark hair. She muses that it couldn’t be Strider and in my mind I though, but it is!!!!

  8. Yes! That totally sometimes happens to me! And then, it is soooo jarring when the author mentions the character’s looks – it then takes me out of the story.

  9. You know, I don’t actually ever pay attention to author’s descriptions of characters. I don’t really visualize a person in my head, it’s more emotions and actions. Hard to explain. However, if a character has a strong personality similar to a TV character, movie, etc. I tend to visualize that person in the role. Here is an example of how that goes terribly wrong: Butch from Black Dagger Brotherhood – big, tough guy cop. I happened to see NYPD Blues before reading the books and now, Butch will always be Dennis Franz. *shakes head*

  10. PS> You know what I hate though… is when the cover model looks NOTHING like the character’s description.

  11. Bookaholic Cat – Well, black hair is not SO different than blond. 😉

    Ally – I’ve done that too! Sometimes when my idea don’t match with the description I just ignore it. LOL

    Michelle – It makes sense that you would make heroes look like what you are attracted to. Hmm…something to think about.

    Seleste – I think an albino character would be really difficult to envision because it’s not something you encounter often in books.

    June – I never thought about how you may picture a hero depending on what your personal taste is until I read it here. That is very interesting. 🙂

    blodeuedd – I’m sure you do. I’m sure. you. do. 😉

    Millie – I am seeing that many feel like Strider is not a blond. I wonder why that is? lol

    Carolyn – You are so right about the repeated description taking you out of the story. It takes me a few lines to get back into it! lol

    twimom – Jen, your comment actually made me burst out laughing out loud. Denis Franz as Butch! LMAO! Not my idea of the ultimate sexy man. LOLOL And I am totally with you on the cover model thing. It’s annoying. 🙂

  12. It definitely happens. I have to admit, as much as I know Cat loves Bones as a blond, I don’t. In my head he always has dark hair. When he dyes his hair, she’s disappointed; I thought “yeah, that’s more like it.”

    So, no, you’re not alone.

  13. I always picture Bones as looking like Beckham, with dark hair…yum.
    So nice to know I am not alone in not being able to make what I see in my head always match the authors descriptions!

  14. Oh yes, it happens quite a lot that I imagine the character differently than how the author described them:

    – one of them was Elena in Kelley Armstrong’s series: she is described as having pale almost white blond hair. Well for me Elena screams Spanish, exotic, so I pictured her a dark haired/dark eyed exotic fierce beauty. Which in my mind fits her character and temperament much better 🙂

    – Mac the hero in Erin Nicholas’ Just My Type is a bald hunk, well I like my heroes to have hair so I imagined him with a military cut at least

    – and usually in my mind I transform the blond heroes into dark haired ones, I prefer them to be tall, dark and handsome 😀

  15. Yes, yes, yes, all the time! I can’t even think of a good example right now but for some reason a certain characters personality makes me think of a certain physical type of guy or girl. I don’t know if I’ve met someone in my past that had those same personality characteristics and automatically assume that they have the same physical charaacteristics or what but it happens a lot for me! Oh, Bianka from Gena’s books has long black hair but for some reason I see her as a blonde and the same goes for Gwen. I think Gwen because she’s an angel I automatically assume she has to have blonde hair but I don’t know why I feel Bianka should have blonde hair…Fabulous question Julie because I always wondered if I was the only one who thought this kind of thing!

  16. I do this all the time! One example is Merit-I don’t picture her looking anything like she does on the cover of the Chicagoland Vampire books or how she’s described in the books.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *