Shannon Stacey

But she's got a great personality!

I’ve discovered a new form of torture. The cover request form. I realize I’m not as recovered from illness yet as I’d like to pretend I am, but I still don’t like a form kicking my ass.

It wasn’t too bad through the hero’s hair & eye color, and his build. I remembered both, although his build is only mentioned once. Tall. A little thinner than she usually liked, but still managed to fill out his jeans and t-shirt pretty damn well. The shape of his face? The shape of his eyes?

Things get really bad for the heroine. Umm…she has blonde wisps that escape from her ponytail, and he notes that her eyes are blue at some point. That’s it. Ask me what her come-back would be for any situation thrown her way and I know it, but don’t ask me how tall she is, or even how long that ponytail is.

So I’m stuck asking myself how I managed to write an entire book with no concrete idea of how my characters look. Is it because I read that way? If an author really starts laying out physical characteristics, I start skimming. One I get the hair color and a general idea of physique, I’m good to go. I’ve got enough of an image to get into the book, and any further details from the author aren’t going to alter the image in my head.

But in mentally skimming through Roadtrip, do I have enough details to satsify even a color-my-own-hero like me? What about readers who like to have the characters’ appearances clearly drawn? And, of course, the cover artist who’d no doubt like to at least know if she’s a foot shorter than the hero, or merely an inch or two.

I’m sure I could fudge the form–get enough details down to get a cover. But this is probably meant to be a learning experience for me as a writer. On some level my brain is still playing Barbies. On the left is Ken. On the right, the heroine line-up: blonde Barbie, brunette Teresa (was that her name?). If she’s a plain-jane girl next door, there’s always Skipper. Of course, if a menage scene comes up, I’ll be rummaging through the GI Joe dolls.

She loves the color of his eyes, but never thinks about it again? In chapter one she mentally catalogs how thick his hair is–how she’s so sure it would curl if he missed a haircut. How did I leave out the first time she gets to run her fingers through it?

I guess some editing’s in order. Even though I believe a few physical characteristics on the page do not a fully-realized character make or break, I think this is a writerly skill I need to work on.

4 comments to “But she's got a great personality!”

  1. Mel
      · February 20th, 2005 at 7:26 pm · Link

    Shan… fill out the form already. It’s okay to be vague–some of us don’t pay attention to the cover art THAT closely cuz we get our own mental pictures while reading. ;)

    Don’t you have dark, brooding vampires to write?

  2. Jaci
      · February 20th, 2005 at 11:38 pm · Link

    Eh. Don’t stress the cover art form. Give a blurb of the book and some basics on the hero and heroine and let the cover artists create for you.

    Are you feeling okay? Did you get my emails? I was worried about you.

    Oh…and like Mel said…don’t you have a brooding vampire to write? *snicker*



  3. Anna Lucia
      · February 21st, 2005 at 6:09 am · Link

    Hon, I read like you do – skim the physical details. I know my characters, but I’d struggle to really describe them. It’s like when you have a dream that you’re in – how often are you really ‘you’? But you know it’s yourself who’s running from the monsters, or having a quickie with Vin. (And yes, I did have this dream. I’m still smiling. But the ‘me’ in that dream may have been experiencing some pretty specific sensations, but she sure as heck wasn’t 15 stone and five weeks shy of a leg wax…..)

  4. Shannon
      · February 21st, 2005 at 9:23 pm · Link


    I wonder what the cover artist would think if I put down how far out from a waxing she is. :)

    Umm…vampires, that’s what I was doing.

  • Get my latest news straight to your inbox!

    I'll only be sending newsletters when I have news to share, and I'll never share your information. You'll receive an email asking you confirm your subscription (so please check your spam box if you don't receive that). You can unsubscribe at anytime.


  • Affiliation

    Shannon Stacey is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of

    If you purchase a book listed on the site from, she’ll earn a small commission. Thank you!