5 time-tested ways to introduce characters
If a great plot is the key to a great novel, strong characterisation is the master key to unlock the hidden potential of any novel. Introducing characters systematically and in a proper form is like adding spices to a dish. The aroma that it spreads makes the reader hungry to devour the story.
But then, is there any magic formula for introducing characters to get the readers hooked on from the word go? Yes, most certainly there are some amazing ways to go about this activity.
So come, let's check out the 5 time-tested ways of doing it:
Introducing through personal description: Descriptions are tricky, especially in openings, since they can easily dwell into info-dump territory. But since they are extremely important, one cannot ignore this aspect while introducing a character. Describing a character’s appearance, clothing, and personal environment can offer a great deal of information but it should be kept short and sweet.
2. Give your character a striking character trait: Giving your characters unique and notable character traits or mannerisms early in your story can help you create distinct, instantly memorable characters. Including mannerisms or traits can help the reader differentiate between characters and gain insight into a character’s self-image. An old woman with beautiful skin who indulges in regular beauty routines despite her age might suggest that she greatly values her looks and appearance. In a thriller, readers might deduce that a character who is almost paranoid of keeping all the doors securely locked is of a cautious and careful nature.
3. Introduce a character through a routine or action: You can learn a lot about a character through their daily routines and interactions. In many stories, we see authors spending a considerable amount of time in the beginning scene explaining the morning routine of a character. This gives a sense to the reader of how they set the mood for the day, what their temperament is and how these actions can affect their interaction with other characters in the story. Imagining the character in action while reading not only gives the reader an insight into their general disposition and nature but also builds a case for them to understand their reaction and point of view to situations and people.
4. Reveal a character's past through a backstory: A character’s history gives readers a sense of their experiences which have shaped them into the person that they are. A person’s past helps us understand their impulses, their whims, their motivations. But while using this technique of introductions, one must be careful and not launch into info dumps by giving too much and also irrelevant details. Keeping the backstory relevant to the character’s story and present circumstances is like a fine balancing act.Their past act should justify their present actions. Someone who lost her mother, may have apprehensions about being a mother and so on.
5. Introduce a character through the point of view of another character: Like in real life, fictional characters’ reputations sometimes precede them. This is especially true for villains. Showing other characters talking about a dubious and questionable character before they arrive builds suspense and anticipation.
A well thought out, preplanned character introduction can make the reader keenly interested in both the character and the writer. It makes the reader eager to follow that character into the story and just as enthusiastic to follow that storyteller because good character introductions instil confidence in the reader of a good reading journey.