6 Tips To Introduce Characters

Have you mastered the techniques of introducing characters in your book? In the September edition of Writing Hacks--just click to subscribe--I gave these tips in the Beginner's Corner.

Introducing Characters

I read a book recently that prompted this tip.Before I reached the end of the first chapter, I was flipping back in an effort to figure out who all the characters were. It was like an old movie advertisement: "A cast of thousands."

Always remember that simplest formula for a story: a compelling character strives against great odds to achieve a worthy goal. Your goal is to make your characters compelling.

Take care when introducing characters. Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Introduce your main characters one at a time and give enough "space" for the reader to acquaint himself with that character before moving to introduce another.

2. Give enough description to cement the character in the reader's head.

3. Make it apparent who your main character is. I've judged a lot of manuscripts in contests where I'm trying to guess who the story is about. Smart writers make it known from the get-go.

4. Beware of introducing a character, making that character compelling and fully realized--and then killing that character off to turn the story over to a different character. This seriously annoys readers.

5. Give your compelling character believable obstacles to overcome. See the simplest formula above.

6. Give your character a worthy goal and make it plain enough that the reader remembers what the character wants. Nebulous character wants equal an unremarkable, unmemorable character. (Also from the simplest formula above.)

Takeaway Truth

Master the art of making good character introductions, and readers will stick with your book to the end.

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