By Marisa Dillon
Book or movie first? Book, right? Well, if you are an author or a lover of books that’s the response I would expect.
After a conversation with a friend this week on this debated topic, I realized I’m most likely the only one left on the planet who is still reading George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” instead of watching it on video. “
Outlander”? Yes, I’m in the middle of the first book, holding out from binge viewing the series online.
The biggest beef I have with watching the movie or TV series first is that the director decides what my hero looks like instead of my imagination. Sure, an author guides us with their description, but each one of us still can create our own vision of the hero.
Once an actor is cast as the hero, there’s never a chance to wipe the image from our memory. Here’s a great example: “He was a tall man and powerfully built. Scarlett thought she had never seen such a man with such wide shoulders, so heavy with muscles, almost too heavy for gentility. When her eye caught his, he smiled, showing animal-white teeth below a close-clipped black mustache. He was dark of face, swarthy as a pirate, and his eyes were as bold and black as any pirate’s appraising a galleon to be scuttled or a maiden to be ravished.”
Of course, when I read this, all I can see is the dark of face, swarthy as a pirate Clark Gable from Margret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”. If the movie were remade today, could we give up Clark and allow another to be Rhett Butler?
What about Jason Momoa? Or Sam Heughan?
Either would work for me. Easily on the eyes actors like Jason or Sam would jumpstart my imagination and prime the writing engine. And that revelation forces me to confess that when it comes to crafting characters, I do love using a visual as a writing prompt. I even build a private Pinterest Board for my inspiration complete with photos of landscapes which I imagine are scenes my characters will enter.
When I start a new manuscript, I create character worksheets for my heroine and hero too. Selecting a picture for each is a process, one of my favorite and most important steps. This exercise helps me ‘meet’ my characters. Sure, the pictures won’t be an exact portraits, but they guide my descriptions and the character development. The pictures always helps me create an intimate relationship with my characters, particularly my hero. But the reader never sees my pictures. The reader is allowed to paint the image of my hero in her mind. And the brush strokes and color pallet will be different for each of you.
What’s your vote? Movie or book first? I’d love to hear from you.
And if it will sell more books, I’ll let the publisher put my hero on the cover. If he looks like Sam or Jason, it couldn’t hurt.