Character introduction


#1

How do I make a good character introduction?


#2

Well. Start of with a good description of them. Know their personality and use that to make a great opener.


#3

It depends on the character and the situation of which how they become introduced.

Typically speaking, they can be introduced at any given time in any given way. For example, in Harry Potter, we are first introduced to the Dursley’s because it starts off with their day. From just viewing Uncle Vernon’s point of view, we understand that the family is very traditional and quite judgmental and rude. Then, at night, we are then introduced to three other characters—Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid. Dumbledore is introduced by just walking up the street, and then he says Minerva’s name. Later, Hagrid comes on a motorcycle from the sky. This is where Harry is kind of introduced, as a baby, but his actual character is introduced to us years later on chapter two, where his aunt is waking him up from his bedroom under the stairs. This is where we meet the cousin, Dudley, because we are told it’s his birthday, and soon, he appears in the kitchen for breakfast.

Later in the story, we meet Hagrid again—but he’s new to Harry—from Hagrid busting down a door.

When Harry goes to Platform 9/3 Quarters, he is introduced (briefly) to the Weasley family because he doesn’t understand how to get to the platform. Ron’s mother shows him how it’s done, and even says it’s Ron’s first time, too. When they finally go on the train, Ron and Harry exchange dialogues until Hermione comes over, looking for another person’s pet frog.

Overall, the trick is to connect the introductions to the setting of the story. We are introduced to the Dursley family first because we need to understand that they eventually gain the responsibility of Harry… unwillingly. We are introduced to some of the people at Hogwarts because they are the ones who give Harry away. We are introduced to Ron and part of his family because it’s also his first time in going through the wall to the platform, and it was kind of the right time for Harry to meet them. We are introduced to Hermione because someone is looking for a lost pet on the train, and she’s trying to help find it. These are the connections.

Think of how your characters are introduced in the story and how they can be written in such a way where it’s like a subtle moment.


#4

Start by showing their personality, adding small bits of physical description that flows with the story rather than pauses it.

They say the best physical description you can give is one that the readers don’t even realize they’ve been given.


#5

I think the most important thing is a grand entrance. How does the character walk into the room? Every step they take should be described in intense and satirical detail.


#6

I really like it (as a reader) when my first look of a character is during some kind of interaction or action. I like getting to know characters from how they act/react to things, rather than being told what they’re like. You get me? There’s a term for starting off in the middle of an action–some French word that I can’t think of. In media res, or something like that?


#7

It obviously depends a bit on the character, but make their first appearance something that gives the reader a fitting first impression of who they are (aka the establishing character moment). It can include a physical description but doesn’t have to; I generally only use those when their appearance leaves a big impression on the POV character. What it does, however, have to include is the first snapshot of who they are and how they act.

For instance, a by-the-rules character could be introduced barging in and complaining about someone not doing something right where a normal person would never care. A carefree badass character could beat up the bad guy and then complain about the villain ruining their favorite shirt. A clumsy character could trip down a flight of stairs and crash-land in the table where the waiter just finished setting up the drinks (and then stand up and continue like nothing happened). And so on.

Let it be a little over-the-top. Let it be ridiculous. Make it memorable, even if it’s a bit exaggerated. Don’t try to show their entire personality at once; just their defining traits, maybe a few quirks. Make the mood and tone of their introduction match the vibe you want them to give off and/or the overall feel of the story. Not necessarily the scene; their entrance can change the scene’s mood.

And then… have fun.


#8

Interesting question. I think I nearly always include a bit of a physical description because I visualize the story as I write or as I read, and it bugs me not to have any hint of what they look like. But it’s short, and no mirrors. Here’s one of mine I particularly like:

“Genneret was a tall, thin man. He stood as she approached and he was all vertical lines—the long vertical lines of his tunic and trousers, the deep vertical lines that bracketed his mouth, the hollow lines of his cheeks, the short, frowning lines between his brows. His hair was white and pulled tightly back into a warrior’s queue. At his side he wore a plain sword gleaming with care and worn with use. A strong man, used to having his own way, who would play a losing hand as fiercely as a winning one.”

It’s much longer than many of mine, but it does what I want–revealing the character of the man as much as it does the looks.


#9

What is that excerpt from?


#10

That’s my current book, You Take the Low Road. (It’s called The Reluctant Champion on the page, but my cover artist thinks YTTLR is a better title.)