How Do You Picture Characters?



If you’re an avid reader, you’ve probably read enough to  know when a book cover is right on the money or when it’s not.  I think indie authors find a hard time trying to get the right cover for their books, something that gives an image of the main characters and whatever elements are relevant to the story.  Or, in some cases, they don't use the characters at all.  Believe me, I’ve struggled with my own covers.  We are always searching for the “right cover”.  Well, that right cover can be elusive.

If you’re a writer, you know what I mean.  You have a specific image in your mind of the characters, how they appear to you in your consciousness.  If you’re a really good writer, you can picture a lot of things – not only the characters, but the scene as it’s playing in your head.  And we want to bring that to the page as well as we can.

So, sometimes I play around with images.   It is exciting to find a picture that is close to your character, or as close as possible.  You’ve heard of storyboarding, right?  This is like character boarding.  Don’t laugh, but I just came up with that.  LOL.  Okay, you can laugh.  Sometimes I collect a collage of close images to characters or scenes.  It can be great fun, and can help writers get a better feel for their characters.  We all know when something isn’t quite right or doesn’t match up to our characters.  This can also give readers a better sense of how the character should look too.  And if the cover artist is a whiz in his or her profession, that is helpful, right?

So, how do you picture your characters as a writer?  Do you really see them in your head?  Do you go find a similar picture online somewhere and think, “Yeah, that’s the protagonist exactly”?  Could you take it further and describe your villains or scenes in a set of images?  Well, why not?  It might be a fun exercise.

And readers, do you usually find that book covers represent the characters pretty well?  With books I have read, either it does or doesn’t, but I try not to let that affect my pleasure in reading the story.  It is, however, pretty interesting to see how closely those characters can be matched.  

I’d really like to know your thoughts on this.  But, in the meantime, I’m going to post some pictures of my characters and scenes for your own enjoyment. 

UPON YOUR RETURN (historical romance)

Characters:  Fara Bellamont and Grant Hill

My suggestions to the cover artist:




The Cover

http://www.amazon.com/Upon-Your-Return-Marie-Lavender-ebook/dp/B00I0D9LQ8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477322&sr=1-1&keywords=Upon+Your+Return



LEATHER AND LACE (romantic suspense)

Character:  Evangeline Lewis

My ideas:



The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Leather-Lace-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B00GV2W9BE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477359&sr=1-1&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome



RANSOM (romantic suspense)

Characters:  Lance Redding and Triana Richards

My ideas:
    


 The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Ransom-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B00AM7CB2Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477359&sr=1-3&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome




A TOUCH OF DAWN (contemporary romance)

Scene:  couple at sunset in Oregon

My ideas:




The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Dawn-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009GI8LTO/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477359&sr=1-4&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome




PERFECT GAME (contemporary romance)

Scene:  Kenya

My ideas:



The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Game-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBZ31A/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477359&sr=1-5&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome




A MISPLACED LIFE (mystery/thriller, paranormal)

Character:  Alexa Hamilton

Scene:  a pier, water

My ideas:





The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Misplaced-Life-Kathryn-Layne-ebook/dp/B009BBYY1U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477519&sr=1-1&keywords=Kathryn+Layne



PURSUIT (romantic suspense)

character:  Susannah Peters

My ideas:



The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBYZI2/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477359&sr=1-14&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome




HAUNTED (romantic suspense)

character:  Carmen Martinez



The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBYZOQ/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477599&sr=1-9&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome




TERROR IN THE NIGHT (thriller, paranormal, romantic suspense)

Scene:  eerie forest

My ideas:


The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Terror-Night-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBZ4E6/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477633&sr=1-7&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome



STRANGE HEAT (contemporary romance)

Characters:  Victoria Weston and Richard Jacobs

My ideas:




The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Heat-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBZ3GA/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477660&sr=1-13&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome




WITHOUT YOU (contemporary romance)

Characters:  Jenna Stoneson and Reece Carson

Theme:  Drama, Theater

My ideas:







The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Without-You-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBZ7SE/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477696&sr=1-8&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome




A HINT OF SCANDAL (mystery/romantic suspense)

Characters:  Payton Jones and Bruce Johnson

My ideas:





The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Hint-Scandal-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBYVFE/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477727&sr=1-11&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome






MEMORIES (contemporary romance)

Character:  Sadie Johnston
Scene:  horse ranch, farm
My ideas:
















The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Memories-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBZ10I/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477763&sr=1-12&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome



HARD TO GET (romantic mystery)


Character:  Gwen Donovan

Theme:  police procedural











The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Get-Erica-Sutherhome-ebook/dp/B009BBYYII/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477819&sr=1-10&keywords=Erica+Sutherhome



SOULFUL RAMBLINGS AND OTHER WORLDLY THINGS (literary fiction/poetry)

Theme:  Paranormal, Mystical

My ideas:






 




The Cover:
http://www.amazon.com/Soulful-Ramblings-Other-Worldly-Things-ebook/dp/B009B4TYTY/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477862&sr=1-3&keywords=Heather+Crouse



RAMBLINGS, MUSINGS AND OTHER THINGS (literary fiction/poetry)

Theme:  Nature

My ideas:







The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Ramblings-Musings-Things-Heather-Crouse-ebook/dp/B009B53QEC/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477862&sr=1-4&keywords=Heather+Crouse



EXPRESS CAFE AND OTHER RAMBLINGS (literary fiction/poetry)

Scene: café, cat



My ideas:

 

The Cover:

http://www.amazon.com/Express-Other-Ramblings-Heather-Crouse-ebook/dp/B009B53O4E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391477862&sr=1-1&keywords=Heather+Crouse





UNPUBLISHED BOOKS:

Magick & Moonlight (paranormal romance)
(status:  under contract, should be published soon)

Characters:  Jessie Anderson and Ethan Hamilton

My suggestions to the cover artist:


Stay tuned for the cover...
 
Upon Your Honor (historical romance) - the sequel to UPON YOUR RETURN
(status:  editing for submission)

Characters:  Chloe Waverly and Gabriel Hill

My ideas:









Comments

  1. I was very happy with the way my book cover came out. It absolutely represents what I had in mind. However, that is because I hired a photographer and we picked out the model and some of the accessories. My photographer did the photo digital editing to create the special effects. The only way it doesn't represent what I had in mind is in that I was thinking about having a wolf in the photo with her. Unfortunately, we couldn't find an image of a wolf at the correct angle to look natural. Plus the additional editing would have pushed us over budget.

    Click here for the image. http://lilojabernathy.blogspot.com/p/illustri.html

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  2. As I'm writing my regencies I tend to build my characters throughout the book so at the end I've got a complete image in my mind what they look like. Occasionally I've got an idea before the book is finished and will present them to my cover artist, as in the case of The Masked Lady and The Murder.

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  3. The problem with images of characters is that they won't correspond to every reader's idea of how they should look. I have steered clear of photographic images for that reason and tried more for atmosphere.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Sometimes covers don't match up with the description in the book. I have a paranormal romance coming out soon, and I had to fight my cover artist about how the characters are actually supposed to look. Eventually, we both settled on something, but it was hard finding the right cover.

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  4. I like this article and it certainly fits with what happened to us. We had a good friend create our bookcover based on a summary and some descriptions of the characters. We gave him an idea for one cover and he came back with five 'proofs' for us to pick from. The funny thing was that he actually drew the climax of the book without realizing it, so we decided to go with that one. He did a great job and we love our cover so much. But I think it helps to have a cover artist that doesn't know the story by heart, because they can step in with a clear image and come up with something we as authors didn't even think of because we have the story and characters memorized so well. I love the covers you have and I think they worked out amazingly well.

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