Visual Representations

I’ve noticed that, these days, a lot of authors have visual representations of their characters/settings/trinkets from their stories. What I mean by this is that they’ve taken the idea from their minds, and have created something solid…some authors knit, some have jewelry made to represent their work, and some create artwork or gather images that “cast” their characters.

And of course my first thought to this is – AWESOME!

These visual representations are done in a variety of ways, one of which is using Pinterest to create a board specifically devoted to their story. I think this is so cool…it’s really interesting to see a bunch of images all in one place that pull together to form a world. In some ways, it can help set a tone for you as reader, and get you really excited about the world of the story.

So I tentatively set about trying this out myself, but when I did, I came across a problem…the images in my head were not so readily available on Pinterest! I ended up choosing things which sort of matched my ideas, and in the end the group of images looked pretty cool together, but it made me hesitant to ever actually make the board public and share the vision with potential-possibly-someday-readers. I don’t like the idea of people seeing images posted by me, which don’t actually match my ideas. This is especially true for those real partial-matches, since I may pick a picture of, for instance, a person, because the hair is right, but the face is wrong. Someone else might look at it and think the face is exactly what they should see.

So then I start thinking that imagination is better and maybe I shouldn’t ever share inspirational images with potential-possibly-someday-readers because I want them to visualize the world for themselves. But then again, seeing other story boards and various non-Pinterest representations is really cool as a reader myself. So…???

What are your thoughts on this? Does it help make your world a truer thing by making it visually available for fans? Or is it better to keep stories in the realm of the imagination, so that fans can picture characters and settings exactly how they want?

Also, which awesome visual representations (crafts, pictures, and even non-visual things like playlists) have you seen authors create?

3 Responses so far.

  1. This is a good question! I'm pretty strongly against depictions of characters' faces on covers for the reasons you mention. I don't do a really serious photo collage, but I do collect some images on my computer just for myself. 🙂
  2. Mere Joyce says:
    I definitely know what you mean about covers. Often I find myself studying the cover midway through a book, wondering if that is at all what I think the character actually looks like. Sometimes at least the tone is correct, but it does happen where even that is wrong (the story is a deep emotional drama, but the cover is a sunny summer's day on the beach or something).
  3. Deshipley says:
    It feels amazing to happen across an image and think, "Oh, man, that look exactly like such-and-such!" or "That guy could totally be What's-her-name's brother!" But yes, there is also the frustration when an image is just a little too far from identical to sit well with you.

    On the one hand, readers can be influenced by what you give their eyes to work with. On the other hand, they can completely ignore everything you throw at them, visually and verbally, and envision something that, to the author's mind, is completely wrong. And even an author's vision of her characters can change over time — subtly, or a lot.

    The realm of imagination is an amorphous thing, and its translation into solid visuals is a chancy undertaking. But it's still fun to try!

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