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When you're reading a book, how do you picture the characters?

Do you base characters in a book you're reading on REAL people who look similar to the author's description (ex. Sally looked at George with her long blond hair and green eyes...) or come up with an image of them in your head based on details? Or do they not match the author's description because you naturally picture them another way (ex. black hair) or like a real person in your life who looks totally different? 

Sorry for this rambling question. Just a random thought I had. I think I do all 4 of these.


Whoops, I should have clarified. I meant more like for realistic fiction novels or fiction...

7 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago
    Favourite answer

    I don't normally devote a whole lot of thought to how the characters look. If the author has provided a description, that will suffice for me. If not, I might form an image of the person in my own mind, but only if I find that character interesting enough to bother with that. Like anybody who reads a lot, from time to time I'll come across characters that remind me of people that I know in real life. I think the best characters are those who are compelling enough and real enough to make me feel connected to them and to the story. In my experience, it's best to retain some element of mystery. I can't stand it when an author insists on giving me a detailed physical description of the characters, an exhaustive back-story on each of them, and feels the need to provide an itemized list of each character's personality traits. To me, that's just meaningless filler. 

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    For realistic fiction I will look at art work of that person.

    For fiction I actually don't use what they look like much. Everyone will picture someone else anyway. What I do hate is when I get a clear picture of the character in my head and then the author decides to describe the characters appearance and then constantly refer to it from that point on. I find that pulls me out of character.

  • 1 month ago


    It helps me overcome my fear of publicly speaking in front of books.

  • 1 month ago

    Of course Sally could look at George with her green eyes, but I really don't know how her blond hair could take part.

    PS "Ex." means "former". You don't mean that. You mean "for example" and the standard abbreviation for that is "e.g." or just "eg".

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  • Marli
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Like ?, I see the characters in historical novels the way they are shown in art. I did not see Julius Caesar as a young man in Coleen McCullough's books becauseof his famous bust. She had to make her own illustrations that showed him with fewer wrinkles and more hair.

    I read Gone with the Wind long before I saw the movie. Ashley looked nothing like Leslie Howard to me when I read the book. More like Ronald Coleman.

    I think I've done all four too.

  • 1 month ago

    It depends a look on how good the author is.

  • 1 month ago

    As a Historian I see a lot of characters just like they are shown in art and statuary.

    Now, that doesn't mean I don't use my imagination every once in a while.

    Most books actually describe the characters similar as you did.

    If you watch a movie you don't get that character description because you're already seeing what they look like.

    Every character eventually gets described by their looks, traits, habits, etc.

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