Envisioning my Characters and a Giveaway by Christy Carlyle

600RULES-FOR-THE-ROGUE_finalI’m a movie buff, I admit. If I had heaps of money and oodles of free time, I’d go to the cinema weekly. Film visuals fascinate me, from the lighting and colors to costumes, set design, and the appealing actors and actresses who embody character roles.700lovers

When I’m writing a book, the story often unfolds in my head as if I’m watching a film. A bit like a director, I start imagining my sets, what color a character should wear in a certain scene, and how the story progresses visually. Want to see the results of all this rumination? Check out my many Pinterest (i.e., where visual people go to get lost) boards. I justify my time there by creating inspiration boards for all my stories.

Maybe you’d agree with me that a great cast makes for a great movie. I have similar feelings about stories. For me, characters are key. Understanding their hearts, pasts, and goals is essential, but I also want a clear idea of physical aspects, including the sound of their voice and the way they move.

As a writer, I usually have a sense of a character’s physicality as soon as a story idea pops in my head, but that’s just the beginning of the journey. After I’ve laid out general ideas—plotting major scenes, exploring the conflict, and planning the happy ending—I often look for actors to star in the movie in my head. Sometimes I choose favorites whose work has inspired me. On other occasions, I see a face or hear a voice that fits my character well.

For my November 1st release (the start of a new series!), RULES FOR A ROGUE, I immediately thought of one tall, muscular, dark haired actor as my hero, Kit Ruthven. Canadian actress, Elyse Levesque, with her red hair and bright blue eyes, fit my heroine, Ophelia Marsden.

Shout out to the Avon art department too, who brought Ophelia to stunning life on my cover.

For further inspiration, I commissioned a fabulous artist, Jenna Paddey, to create character sketches of my hero and heroine. I sent her images of my actors as 600kitreference and told her a bit about my characters’ personalities. The art she produced is so gorgeous that I now plan to commission character sketches for all my future books.

How do you envision characters when you’re reading a book? Do you go by the cover art, insert your own favorite actor in the role, or just let the author build an image in your head with words?

EBOOK (winner’s choice of my titles) GIVEAWAY*: Comment and let me know if you recognize the identity of my hero inspiration (if you follow me on social media, you will already know!) for Rules for a Rogue’s Kit Ruthven?

*I’ll pick and announce two winners on Sunday, Aug 28*

36 Responses

  1. Evelyn Hill

    I love the idea of having an artist create character sketches! My drawing skills are so abysmal that I have to rely on Pinterest and my own imagination. I’m never quite sure I’ve captured the characters.

    • Christy Carlyle

      I hear you, Evelyn! I actually have taken up drawing again after many years away from it and thought I’d do something decent enough to share with readers. Didn’t happen. 🙂 So I found someone MUCH more talented to produce some art.

    • Christy Carlyle

      Me too, Molly! I have no idea why I didn’t think of it sooner. 🙂 And there are so many young, talented artists out there who take commissions. I found Jenna on Tumblr.

  2. Karen Simpson

    It looks like Mr. Darcy — truly. I love the character sketches. I know you like Darcy…and P&P. And yes…I envision characters when I read. 🙂 Personally, I am partial to Poldark, but this looks more like Mr. Darcy.

      • Karen

        So the question is who is this? Not Darcy, then. You are looking for more. Adam Driver is the star you have on your sites. If it isn’t Adam- it’s gone on me.

  3. Barbara Monajem

    LOL. I’m just the opposite, Christy — I’m not very visual (although I do appreciate beautiful things–but often I’m oblivious to my surroundings). I don’t have a clear idea of characters most of the time, whether reading or writing. Once in a while, yes–and it’s lots of fun writing with a particular image in mind–but alas, I’m not made that way. Usually an author’s words are plenty for me–and it doesn’t take much to satisfy my need for description.

    • Christy Carlyle

      I used to be a teacher, so I can totally understand, Barbara. I often had to remind myself that not all of my students thought visuals were as cool as I did. 🙂 In fact, I have friends who are utterly overwhelmed by sites like Pinterest, whereas I actually consider visiting to be a stress reliever. I love that we’re all made in different ways and appreciate the world around us from our own unique perspective!

  4. Michele Hayes

    I don’t picture anybody famous when I’m reading a book, I just try to put together an image based on the author’s descriptions. The cover/inside artwork doesn’t always match the descriptions in the book.

    • Christy Carlyle

      You’re right, Michelle! Sometimes covers don’t match. I totally understand that some readers just want to create vision in their mind of what characters look like based on an author’s descriptions. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Tina Hairston

    I like trying to match someone with the author’s description instead of using the cover model (s) as a guide. I have a vivid imagination and if the author is very good with their description, I’m able to get a clear picture of them in my head.

    • Christy Carlyle

      Sometimes the cover model doesn’t match or is limiting, I agree. It’s a good challenge to authors to offer excellent descriptions. 🙂

  6. Pat Viglione

    I do look at the cover art to try to envision the characters in a book; however, I rely more heavily on the author’s descriptions to envision and see them in my mind’s eye. I do want the cover art to match the author’s description in the story and am disappointed when it does not match.

    • Christy Carlyle

      It is disappointing, isn’t it? I used to be a book cover designer, so I appreciate the dilemma from both sides. There are only so many cover models out there! However, it really is important to authors that their covers match their characters as closely as possible. I think that’s why I was so excited to commission these character sketches. I knew the artist would use my descriptions to create the very characters in my head. 🙂

  7. Glenda

    So I’m a bit late chiming in with Adam Driver as the inspiration for your hero. . . . I do appreciate when the cover hero and heroine match the description in the book. Most authors I enjoy do an excellent job with their description, sadly the cover artist doesn’t always bother reading the desciption. 😉

    • Christy Carlyle

      Hi Glenda! He is indeed my hero inspiration in this case. I would seriously love to see him in a costume drama. 🙂 And, yes, sometimes covers don’t match the descriptions. I’m not sure why that is, but I have been VERY lucky with my Avon covers, and before that I designed my own covers, so I got to be choosy. 🙂

  8. Mary Preston

    I’m going with Adam Driver. I do tend to just rely on an authors description. Sometimes it’s knowing the time period and how they attired themselves too.

    • Christy Carlyle

      Totally okay! 🙂 It is indeed Mr. Driver. Though I usually have a weakness for British actors, Adam is an exception. And he’s from my hometown in Indiana!

    • Christy Carlyle

      I think most authors get to contribute information for the design of their cover. Unfortunately, having been a cover designer for awhile, I know it is impossible to find a model to match every single character description. In fact, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the same models show up on lots of covers. 🙂 I’m afraid it’s unavoidable, especially for historicals, where models in period costume are few and far between.

  9. suzanlauder

    I’ve been going through this lately, and blogged some months back about finding a Mr. Darcy for my cover. I saw your tweet, and immediately liked your inspiration art! Your cover is lovely! Best of luck!