What does your character look like?

Imagination is as individual as it is wonderful.  We can read the same book but how we visualize the scenes and characters are unique to each of us. Recently, someone who had read my novel Of Dreams and Shadow approached me.  She said she knew exactly how the character (bad guy) Silas looked.  She went on to describe him as looking like Robert Carlyle, the actor who portrayed Mr. Gold from Once Upon a Time.  Mr. Gold is one of my favorite characters but I never envisioned him as Silas.

When we think about bad guys, certain characters probably come to mind.  I think about Wild Bill from Stephen King’s The Green Mile and The Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz.  These characters are presented as less than attractive – some might say ugly. But where is the rule that states all bad guys have to be repelling? Why can’t a bad guy be something more?

The character of Silas developed over time.  When I first started writing him – I didn’t see his face but as I spent more time with him – his features came into focus: shoulder length dark hair, a face that would attract a females attention.  (Think Ben Barnes, the actor who portrays Prince Caspian.)  I think the fact that Silas is not only dangerous but beautiful makes him more compelling.

So, what do you think?  Are you surprised by how readers “see” your characters?

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