Picture a Picture of your Character — Does it Help?

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed some authors I follow on Facebook posting photos of people who look like characters from their novel(s). This is an interesting concept in that it can allow the readers to really visualize what the characters in a book looks like, especially a book that hasn’t been made into a movie, and may not be photographed on the cover.  But does this really have a significant benefit? Will posting a photo of someone who looks like a character in your book boost sales? Will it boost reader response? Maybe.

Now, I’m not saying it’s potentially bad. Maybe it can help the writer to write a better description of a character if they actually have a person to base it off of. I guess I’m just more curious than anything else. I’ve only tried on one occasion to find a person who looks like Victoria–also known as Vic–from my flintlock fantasy WIP, Black Powder Brigade. I searched on Pinterest and only found that it’s quite difficult to find a picture of a younger girl (about 15 or 16) with short hair who sort of looks like a boy. All I found were pictures of “trendy” shorter hair styles for women. And I’m a bit hesitant to search Google Images out of fear that some less-than-pleasant results bubble to the top, and then I have to gouge my eyes out and make my wife do all my typing for me. And I don’t think either of us would enjoy that. But perhaps I’ll have better luck finding someone who looks like one of the other characters from Black Powder Brigade. It can’t hurt to try.

Have you found a person who looks like a character from a work of yours? Do you enjoy seeing people who look like your favorite characters? Do you think it has a benefit?


4 thoughts on “Picture a Picture of your Character — Does it Help?

  1. Part of the joy of reading are the characters that come alive in your head. You have created these characters, let the readers envision the characters any way the choose to. It’s part of what will always make books better than the movie.

  2. Yes, when I’m just on the cusp of beginning a book, and I kind of see my major character in my mind’s eye, I go through magazine pages and once in awhile, have an ‘aha’ moment and cut out the face that reminds me of who I’m soon going to be taking on a crazy adventure. It does help!

  3. Interesting notion. I have sketched (poorly) my main character, even mimicked him as a cat person. As a writer it helps me visualize what he may look like. It does not make me write him any better or worse. Ultimately with the written word it is the choices of descriptive terms that determines if the reader gets a clear picture in their minds. To me it is almost like cheating to say that the character looks like this other person, or to present a photograph of them. In doing so we remove the onus of using one’s imagination.

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