I continue to ponder when visuals help and when they hinder. There is a discussion going on today on my post to The Romance Bandits’ blog about covers. We all like different things, but I’m intrigued to notice the number of comments that color draws them to a cover. Color impacts mood and emotion—and romance is all about emotion—so that makes a kind of sense.
Cover art seems to go through phases. I’ve mention I don’t care for naked chest covers. It isn’t that I don’t like a good looking male body; I most certainly do. It is that after a while those covers all look alike and they convey little about the story behind the cover. I have to admit one cover with man’s naked chest attracted me and I had to think about why. The author is a friend, but I don’t think that influenced my gut reaction. On the cover to The Whisky Laird’s Bed the background, the kilt, the bed and the bottle all convey a sense of the story. So do the colors. My insight of the day: what I’m looking for in a cover is a sense of the story.
The issue of look-alike covers reminds me of the time when 90% of the covers had a woman bent backwards over a man’s arm into a position no real woman would find comfortable. She was inevitably dressed in pink or purple also. Back in my public library days we called certain kinds of romance “bent neck novels” as a result. Covers can be trite just like words or stories. As readers we deserve better.
For a while I’ve been keeping a running collection of covers I “like” on Pinterest. Actually it is a collection of covers which, on first look without thinking or analyzing, I feel a strong emotional pull. Details of my taste vs another person’s are irrelevant.
As someone who tends to live in the land of logic and thought, visual cues that cause an emotional response are very important. That is the reason I keep Pinterest boards for all my books at every state of their development.
The Dangerous Works board has a lot of pictures of Greek art and academic buildings. It also has images that enable me to picture the hero and heroine and clothes. I love regency clothing.
The one for Dangerous Secrets has a number of mother and child graphics for my dear Nora, along with pictures of Rome, some villainous types, and a tough Mother Superior.
It was particularly fun creating one for Dangerous Weakness. In addition to various takes on the hero and heroine it has Barbary corsairs, seascapes, and graphics for a number of ports of call. One pin on that board has been repinned over 60 times!
My holiday novella A Dangerous Nativity has an appropriately small board. It has images for the three ornery boys and some farm critters.
I even have one for Killing Weather, a middle grade novel I wrote as Carol Roddy, that I am currently submitting to agents. It includes photos of the real 1933 Chesapeake hurricane and suggestions about how Birdie, the young protagonist might look.
4 thoughts on “Visual Cues and the Imagination”
I dislike naked chest covers. The men are often so developed they look as though they need a bra. The situations are often such a person would be nuts to be going around topless. In historicals it means thousands of ruined ships because ships didn’t open down the front. I think men and women look best clothes when on covers of books or in the park.
That is especially true for historicals, no?
Read this and the Romance Bandits blog also. Very interesting. Also interesting is the fact that you keep visual clues as you are writing the story. Very smart of you. I can think of a few authors who could use a few clues about the time period in which they are setting their story (smile).
As for covers, I prefer subtlety myself and I am really not a fan of the bare chested male covers. You are right – they do all tend to look alike and unless I am already familiar with the author I wouldn’t even be interested enough to pick up the book and read the synopsis of the story.
Thanks. I probably get more absorbed in period buildings and backgrounds than other authors do.