Because opening the Add New Post window here at the blog did nothing but offer up an evil, taunting flashing cursor, I thought hey, wouldn’t it be cool to see what I blogged about on February 20th, 2005?, so off I went into the archive of eight years past.
Apparently, newbie-author-me was struggling with my first ever cover request. I bet, at the time, I thought they’d get easier, which is pretty funny. I still hate them. And the writerly skills I claim I need to learn in this eight year old post? Yeah. Still on my to-learn list. Sometimes the only reasons my characters are described at all is because the cover request form wants to know. So without further rambling ado, my random musings of eight years ago today:
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.