Striking a Pose (Women and Fantasy Covers)

A while back, we had a discussion on the blog about the cover art for my princess novels. For the most part, I really like these covers, but they’re not perfect.

Now I could talk about the way women are posed in cover art … or I could show you. I opted for the latter, in part because it helped me to understand it better. I expected posing like Danielle to feel a little weird and unnatural. I did not expect immediate, physical pain from trying (rather unsuccessfully) to do the hip thing she’s got going on.

I recruited my wife to take the pictures, which she kindly did with a minimum of laughter.

Being me, I naturally couldn’t stop there. I headed over to Amazon and grabbed a sampling of book covers, primarily urban fantasy, and spent the evening doing a photoshoot. Click on if you want to see the results (or if you just really want to see a shot of topless Jim).

I’m tempted to use the Night Myst pic as my new author photo.

In all seriousness, I spent the rest of last night with pain running through most of my back. Even the pose in The Shape of Desire, which first struck me as rather low-key, is difficult to imitate and feels really forced. Trying to launch my chest and buttocks in two different directions a la Vicious Grace? Just ow.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with being sexual. I can totally see Snow from the princess books flaunting her stuff, for example. But posing like these characters drives home exactly what’s being emphasized and what’s not.

My sense is that most of these covers are supposed to convey strong, sexy heroines, but these are not poses that suggest strength. You can’t fight from these stances. I could barely even walk.

Guys, you should try it sometime. Get someone who won’t laugh at you too much to try to help you match these poses. The physical challenge is far more enlightening than anything I could say. (Wardrobe changes are optional.)

A few covers which I feel do a pretty good job of conveying strong, capable female characters: The Gaslight Dogs, An Artificial Night, The Darkest Edge of Dawn. Other suggestions and general discussion are welcome, as always.

Related: A contortionist and martial artist tries to imitate a comic book “fighting pose” … and can’t do it.