Update: Winner of this post giveaway is Chelsea B!
What comes first? A character’s looks or a character’s personality? I suppose it depends what writer you ask and what story she happens to be writing at the moment.
Sometimes authors envision the character first because they are inspired by a picture in a magazine, an article on the Internet, or a person walking down the sidewalk next to them. Other times, a writer’s subconscious will birth a character while she’s day dreaming or sound asleep, and this character sketch will then lead to the creation of an entire plot.
A tattoo gets a writer thinking about what it represents. How the person felt before or after getting it. Whether it says something about the person’s personality or not. When I see someone who outwardly fits a stereotype, like a Scottish redhead or a swarthy, dark-haired Italian, I imagine other ways that person fits the mold, but also the ways in which that person is unique and incapable of being pigeon-holed. Story often flows from there.
At the same time, one of the reasons writers are such avid readers is because we like to start with words and only then imagine what a character looks like. By words, I don’t mean a physical description of the character, but words that amount to dialogue and action and internal thoughts.
As a reader, I tend to like book covers that leave a bit to the imagination. More often than not, my vision of a character, gleaned from the story itself, is usually different than what a cover reveals. For my own books, however, I’m absolutely STOKED when a cover artist manages to capture the essence of who my characters are.
One of the funnest things I’ve done is create a trailer for a story after I’ve written it. The first trailer I created was for my Para-Ops series. In the first book, Chosen By Blood, I introduced the Para-Ops team, a group of six dynamic, completely different individuals. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to find images that accurately represented my vampire, werebeast, mage, psychic shaman, human, and wraith, but it was a lot easier than I’d expected. After writing the story, I definitely had an idea of what these characters looked like. Not because I’d been inspired by anything visual first, but because the story revealed so much about them, and their looks reflected what I’d learned.
Vampire Knox is an artistocratic leader and bound by decorum and duty. On the book cover, the artist did a wonderful job of portraying him as sexy yet elegantly dressed. In my trailer, I couldn’t find a picture that captured Knox’s essence, so I used one of a sexy guy wearing a tux.
Dex is a motorcycle riding bad-boy with a bad attitude, so sunglasses and stubble were a must. Wraith was a complete freak, so why not give her white hair, hazy eyes and blue skin to outwardly reflect that? And so forth and so forth. Granted, I didn’t find a picture of a woman with white hair and blue skin and hazy eyes, but I found a picture that “felt” like Wraith, and that’s really all that mattered.
Watch the trailer I made here. The beautiful thing is that whether you see an image first and get a feel for the story as a result, or read the story first and imagine what a character looks like, both options are fun!
For you, do book covers generally do a good job of depicting story characters? What’s your favorite cover and why?
GIVEAWAY: Comment and you can win a copy of the Para-Ops book of your choice, e-book or print:
Wraith’s Awakening (Prequel, Ebook only)
Chosen By Blood (Book 1)
Chosen By Fate (Book 2)