I’ve noticed that many reviews for books included pictures of what the reader imagined the characters to look like. Because after all, besides general details such as hair and eye colour, indication of build, and other obvious characteristics (freckles, beer belly etc…), it is difficult to describe someone to reach a consensus. Try and write about a blue-eyed, dark haired, slender woman, and some will visualize Katy Perry, others Zooey Deschanel, Megan Fox, or that unknown woman on the internet. Those women don’t look alike in real life. In books, they can be one and the same.
With some books, it’s fun to associate a true picture to a written face. It helps with making a character feel more realistic and within reach. I’ve found myself both as author and reader, scouring the internet to find the perfect representation of those characters in my head. Scrolling through hundreds of faces, until I found the one that fits. It’s strangely satisfying.
But because we all have our personal picture of what a character should look like, when a book is turned into a movie, the chosen actors rarely fit the bill. Sometimes, we can’t quite put our finger on why, but we know the face isn’t right, and it can spoil the entire film. Hence why I think people are usually disappointed by a book made into a movie, even if the plot has been respected.
And then there are books, most books in fact, where I don’t really visualize anyone. I know that said character has curly black hair and is thirty, but the picture remains blurry. It doesn’t spoil the story at all. Even when a character has a distinctive feature such as a stutter or a missing arm, I will “forget” about it. Which proves to me that I don’t need a real picture to appreciate a book.
In this day and age where internet is easily accessible and where faces from all around the world can be found at the touch of a button, it spurs on a lot of readers to search for the perfect real-life portrait of their favourite characters. But at the end of the day, I think it’s all just a bit of fun.
Do you look for pictures that fit your favourite literary hero/heroine? Or maybe your imagination is detailed enough to satisfy you? Or do characters remain blurry in your mind?