I've spent the last week reading, and mulling over, the posts of my fellow grippers. Each of us is very different, and I love that we all have slightly different takes on things.
I love looking at attractive pictures, and I admit, sometimes I will find one that just fits a character. But that is normally well after the character has always started speaking to me. Very rarely will an image spark a story ... although sometimes I will see an image the strikes me so much that I just know I will be using it in a cover, someway, somehow.
For me, I hear things ... and that is what will spark my imagination. I hear whispers of conversation from the couple on the walking track behind me. I overhear a bit of a conversation in the mall. Just little teasers here and there, that is what forms characters.
Very rarely do my characters come out on the pages as fully fleshed out. I might give hair and eye color, sometimes references to tattoos and piercings, but I leave the actual details to the reader. Why?
I admit, it isn't something so charitable as I want each reader to feel drawn into the story. See, I am not that smart. LOL
For me, it is simply the fact that I many times don't know what the character looks like. See, I am an auditory person. I am not visual. To illustrate, many of you know that I am a biology major. Which means, lots of labs. But, while I LOVED my classes, and passed the lecture portions with flying colors, I often bombed the labs. Not because I didn't care, and not because I didn't study my ass off. I just don't have very good visual recognition. I look at a bird and see a brown bird. Not the eye stripe that my ornithology professor saw that told him that the bird was this type of warbler and not that type. Just never clicked.
Partially because when I close my eyes, I see nothing. I don't visualize jack. Sometimes I see flashes ... but that is about it. I am an auditory person. I hear my stories in my mind, almost like a narration ... I don't see my characters.
So, long story short, eye candy is nice for self-lovin' purposes, but doesn't do much for muse sparking.