As a writer I read a lot, and as me I don’t read nearly as much as I should. I would like to read more, I really would, but it takes so much time and there are so many other things I have to do on top of writing already. So for now, reading is more of a backseat necessity, one I do every night before bed.
What I’ve found through talking with some friends is how very different the reading experience is to each person. We each have our own ways of doing things and it fascinates me really. A recent discussion led to a friend and I talking about the Dresden Files and I don’t really remember about how we got onto the topic of Dresden himself, but we ended up talking about him and what we both think of him.
My friend said he envisioned Dresden as like a gaunt man, with his coat and what not, pretty much to a T of the description given in the books. I guess this is what you would expect someone to reply with. For them to describe the character as they are described in the book, but I learned during this conversation that I don’t do that at all. It happens at first, but to me I get a good image of characters by how they talk and react. I find myself completely ignoring their descriptions all together after a while. What do I care if the book says he has dark brown hair and in my mind he has blonde, unless it’s mentioned every other page it likely makes little difference.
With this reading attitude I have, be it good, bad, or strange, I tend to place actors as characters. For instance my Dresden is Leonardo DiCaprio, why? He has that sullen feel to him that Leo shows a lot in movies like Shutter Island. Like the world is a dark place and he has to deal with it. Almost every character gets this kind of attribute. From Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: Elend = Will Smith, Kelsier = Chris Pine, Ham = Hugh Jackman, Breeze = John Goodman. Whether or not these characters hold any of the real physical characteristics as Sanderson describes them I have no idea. But, in my mind this is the crew, and if you don’t see it, try reading one of these characters with the voice of their actor and I’m sure it’ll make sense.
I wonder how this method of reading affects my writing. Unlike when I read, when I write, my characters are unique individuals. I’ve tried casting them and I can’t do it. Yet, at the same time I know I don’t go into a lot of detail describing them physically either. I just don’t think it’s necessary; perhaps because of the way I read. I only give a few key details. Throughout my entire first novel I think the only reference to Quincy’s looks I give is that he wears a cape and a hat, and he’s the MC! But, I don’t want to bog the reader down. Quincy is who he is. He can come in multiple shapes and sizes and or forms, but he’ll be the same person, stand for the same things, loathe the same pet Easter Bunny every day.
-Your Strange Book Caster