When you are storytelling, arguably one of the most important aspects of your writing will be your characters.
While you may have put the work in to think of every detail for them, and make sure that they will make sense in your world, sometimes the most difficult way to get them into your world is to find a way to appropriately introduce them.
You know that in real life, first impressions are everything, but this is also the same in your stories, and if a character has an introduction that does not stick with the reader, it can lead to a lot of confusion, or a character that ends up being hard to relate to.
So, because of how often writers can struggle to introduce a character into their world, we thought it would be helpful to gather some simple tips and ideas for how to make introducing your characters simple and easy.
Some of these methods will work better for different people than others, so do not try and force all of these methods at once.
One of the most challenging things about writing is how much there is to balance, and while you may be tempted to stop everything to go into detail and introduce a character, if it does not fit, it could completely ruin the pacing up until that point.
Knowing the amount of detail you want to include, and the style of introduction you want is just as important as the introduction itself, so make sure you keep this in mind!
Focus On Memorable Features And Clothing
One of the main disadvantages of writing is that, for the most part, you will not be able to rely upon a visual guide, and you will instead have to use just your imagination.
Because of this, you want to make sure that when you are introducing a character, that you give the reader a clear image of how you see your character.
This could be the appearance of some of their key features which help humanize them, or perhaps their clothing so you can get a sense of their style.
When it comes to focusing on the body features of a character, you do not want to go into too much detail, especially if this will kill your pacing.
Make sure to give some stand out and unique qualities for the reader to focus on, and if your characterization is strong enough, the reader can fill in the blanks.
A strength of focusing on the character’s clothing is that you can use this as a way to imply other character details. Just like in real life, what we wear reflects on our personality, so use this to your advantage in your writing too.
Focus On Demeanor And Behavior
Just as important as your character’s appearance when you introduce them, is how they carry themselves and how they act.
Instead of a simple line of dialogue to introduce your character, you can instead focus on an action, or a description of how they are portraying themselves.
If these actions are distinct enough, they will help you fill in a lot of blanks when it comes to the character’s personality. While having other characters tell you how a character acts can work, it can become a crutch you rely on, and a perceptive reader can sometimes see this as a lazy method of exposition.
If you diversify your descriptions, this will help your audience trust your ability.
Do Not Obsess With Appearance
While we have mentioned that the appearance of a character can be important for your reader getting a good impression of how a character looks, you need to keep in mind that unless the appearance of a character is incredibly important to the narrative, it might not need that much attention.
If you spend too much time focusing on the appearance, this can give your reader a bit too much to try and remember.
While you can easily imagine the look of all your characters because they are your creation, a reader will struggle to remember 2 pages of visual descriptions every time a character returns into a scene.
This is why distinct and memorable characterization should be prioritized over too much description. The less you give the reader, the more they can fill in the blanks and engage with your work.
Tease Before A Formal Introduction
One way to make the introduction of a character more impactful is to tease them to the audience before they get properly introduced.
For example, if we see a character do something memorable, but we do not get a chance to meet them formally, this means that when they get reintroduced later, they will already have some of the characterization done.
If the reader is able to remember the initial reaction, this helps the reader feel rewarded by the text since a hint from earlier is getting paid off.
By doing this you are making your characters more memorable, however, make sure to not overuse this as it can become stale if repeated more than a few times in the same text.
Focus On Dialogue
While the appearance, and the behavior of a character does a lot to give an impression of how they act, what is just as important is how they speak.
In a story, usually dialogue is quite important, and because of this, you will want to ensure that all of your characters have a distinct voice so they do not all meld together for the reader.
If you can introduce your character with their unique voice, this can make it easier for the reader to remember them, and can help the character stand out from the others.
If you are struggling with this, try thinking about how your different characters would respond to the same question to help make them more distinct.
Hopefully these tips will help you the next time you have a character to introduce, but make sure to not try and use them all at the same time!