Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Progress Report #8 – Cover Art and Characters

I received the galley proof of Containers 4 Death yesterday and, as always, the thrill of receiving the bound book is tempered by the phrase: “What was I thinking?” Other than some of the usual format adjustments (move the text up 3/16” on all the pages - more space at the bottom, less at the top), and the sudden appearance of a typo on page one of the dedication (the, the error), I was struck on how busy the cover was (see first version - column right and down).

I have worked on this for six months, on and off, and you begin to look past the cover content, you don’t and can’t look at it objectively anymore, my home editor and chief, and the director of the publishing company simply said, “It’s too busy, and get rid of that damn fish, it’s silly.” So, wanting to keep the wheels of Windsor Hill Publishing on the tracks, I wholeheartedly agreed and did some tweaking and color adjusting, reformatted the back cover and produced what you see below: 

The Revised Cover

I’m still playing with it, and will let it sit for a few days, but it does need to get back to the printer much sooner than later. Gentle reader, you have three days to comment, and then it’s off to the great POD in LA.

Toulouse 4 Death is again moved to the front of the line. I have made another full read and edit of the first 20,000 words; this has allowed me to lay structural hints and characters that will come back into the story. To be honest, this is going to be very complex. Maybe too many characters (a fault I have been pointed to in my other books), and maybe too may threads, but let’s see where it goes.

I have a question and would like feedback. How much detail is enough when fleshing out a character? Do you need their height, weight, hair color (or none, as you well know, evil characters always seem to be bald), scars, tattoos, eye color, type of clothes? Or are general characteristics enough? Some readers want a fully realized character; others want to shape them for themselves. I tend to fall in the middle and describe characteristics when they suite the story or help to more define the actor. Is it an all or none? I have mentioned, in a previous blog, that I have a good spreadsheet I use to develop my characters. It is five pages of particulars, but is their religion important (maybe), their birth date (maybe), where they were born (maybe), and are they fans of AC/DC or Bach (maybe)? The spreadsheet is available to anyone, all you have to do is ask.

The next few weeks will focus on the second act, the stage settings are done, the characters introduced, IT, that can’t be named, is positioned; now for the middle act. Players, to your marks.

More later . . . 

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