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Character Introductions?

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Blue Saturday, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. Blue Saturday

    Blue Saturday too fly

    This is just something I've been thinking about, how do you handle new character introductions? For example, how long do you feel the need to harp on their exposition once they enter the story? Their flaws? I mean, their personality, who they are, their raison d'être? Making them a character the readers feel some investment with right from the start?
     
  2. TheBlackDuelist

    TheBlackDuelist Well-Known Member

    Whoa that's alot of questions lol, let's get to it.

    First of all, it all depends on how much plot relevance they have to the story. If they're just some "1 chapter" minor OC who just makes the Protagonists help him/her out on something, then you should't worry about what their introduction is like because readers are probably going to forget about them as the story proceeds.

    Now if you're talking about major characters that's where it begins to get a bit tricky. Usually when you introduce a new main character, an event happens that has something to do with the Protagonist. Whether it could be Team something attacks the grocery store and that new person help out, or if some trainer is abusing their pokemon and that new person reprehends them. The possibilities are endless so make it something that'll make you go, "Just who is this guy?"

    As for their personality and flaws, that's where your social ability comes into play. If your an open person, have a **** load of friends, and go outside occasionally, then try to base their personality on someone you've met in real life. The thing your trying to aim for is making your readers "feel" your characters and synchronize with them. To do this, you're going to need to observe your friends more closely and see how they react, how they laugh, how they talk, and especially how they live. Using common cliche personalities can instantly turn off some readers, all because the author was too lazy to develop a personality above Ash Ketchum.

    I would say you need to learn more about the three dimensions of a character and what they are.

    For flaws, giving them "forced" flaws is a bad way of doing it because then it just shows that you made those flaws for the sole fact that you didn't want people to suspect that they are Mary's Sues. A "real" flaw is a flaw that actually makes sense and you see happen. For instance, look at yourself, what are your flaws? As the saying is "Nobody is perfect, and even the most flawless person always has something they're hiding". Like maybe their unorganised, don't know when to shut up, waste money on pointless things, procrastinate heavily, and my all time favourite SLEEP WAY TOO MUCH lol. These are real flaws, if you give characters flaws like these, then readers will be like "Oh, I so feel [Character name's] pain" and they will want to see more of him/her.

    All in all, if you have any more trouble , just read other people's fan fiction , like I don't know, Saber's Cross Fate, Dragonfree's Quest, and also The Retelling of Pokemon Colossieum. These stories introduce new characters very well, and those said characters are exceptionally well done in personality and depth.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  3. Blue Saturday

    Blue Saturday too fly

    But none of those seem like real character flaws because none of them seem like they would have a major impact on the main character. A type of flaw that would cause the character to look at themselves and reconsider what they've known/know up until this point in the field of what they're doing in regard to that personal error. Because any main character can be, say, an generic "idiot hero" but it doesn't really matter if they're an idiot hero if none of their moronic actions are treated as such and are actually endearing and are clever in a pinch. Or cockiness, it's not really a flaw at all if it's treated as a cute character quirk and doesn't change/impact the character at hand. Sleeping way too much for example just doesn't seem very story-binding flaw wise.
     
  4. TheBlackDuelist

    TheBlackDuelist Well-Known Member


    Well, I'm just suggesting to you what kind of flaws real people would have. If you're looking for impactful character flaws, then you're going to have to look at your story, pick a character, and think "Ok, what kind of thing can my character to do completely **** himself/herself over in this situation". That's the best way I can think of it, otherwise you could just search online about "real flaws". Getting more indepth with your characters is probably going to be the best kind of advice I give as I haven't read your story yet and I don't know what kind of character you're trying to introduce
     
  5. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding your question, but I... don't? My characters don't get "introduced"; they show up, do whatever they're going to do, and then go away when they're done. Sometimes, they come back. But I definitely never "harp on their exposition" or anything.

    I'm not sure if your remaining questions are along the lines of "what are good character flaws," "how do you present a character's flaws in their introductions," or something else entirely...
     
  6. Silent_Vibrava

    Silent_Vibrava Fanfiction Writer

    I try to introduce a character the way the reader usually meets a person in real life. The first thing you know about a person is their looks, actions, and maybe a broad personality trait or two. As one knows a person overtime their actions, history, demeanor, behavior, way of speaking, likes, and dislikes can add up overtime to give a more complete outlook of who they are as a person. More of these traits will show the longer the story and readers stay with a character. The mystery itself usually captures the reader's interest. A compelling character is a complex one. One that can't be easily figured out. Like real people.

    By all means, for a throwaway character, the reader will probably only know on a superficial level which is the looks, actions, and a broad personality trait or two. It makes sense because a person in real life would not know and probably not care about the tragic back story of a person they are only briefly interacting with (to ask for directions, to complete a Pokemon trade, etc). There isn't enough time or connection.

    Main characters the reader should, at first, only know on a superficial level. They should be introduced that way in the story. Think of what it is like in your life. Does the person you meet in person suddenly say, "I'm an introvert, have black hair, wear glasses, and I can be cynical at times". Probably not. Probably when you approach them, you see the gleam of the glasses in the sunlight, the wind flowing past their unkempt, raven hair, their expressions, etc.

    An example of what to do after introducing the character:

    If a person is a recluse, that's a trait. One would usually notice that by what the person does. And not necessarily as the person self-identifying as a recluse. But if the reader follows this reclusive character throughout the story, they should eventually know why this character is a recluse. Why is that trait there? That means going beyond the superficial; from the surface acceptance of what a character is to the understanding of why the character is.
     
  7. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    You generally shouldn't harp on any of those things, at any point. Let things happen naturally and let your readers discover who the characters are through how they act in the story itself, not through paragraphs or scenes geared specifically to inform them about the character as soon as they appear. You're not going to make readers feel investment in a character right from the start by dumping their backstory/motivations/flaws onto them the moment the character enters - investment happens through actually watching the character and finding you care about them, not through seeing, "Right, this character has backstory X and flaws Y; I'm invested in them now."

    If they have character traits that won't actually become apparent through the story itself in any way unless you specially harp on about it, then they're traits that are extraneous, have no real effect on how the character is perceived by the reader, and don't need to be included at all.

    If a character trait is going to be very important later on, you'll want to be sure that trait is set up in some manner, so if e.g. it's a trait that would only come out in extreme situations, you'd want to be sure that at some point before it becomes important you get them into another, less important extreme situation where the reader can see it. But there's generally no need for that to be specifically in the character's introduction, and you should never just spell it out in the narration and leave it at that - show it properly.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013
  8. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    When I needed to introduce a recurring character for HBG, I brought her in during a chapter disguised as an NPC, and the only details I gave to the readers were "she's stronger than she looks/acts." That's it. No name, description, motivation, nothing. Then I had her disappear, thus allowing readers to believe that she was only thrown in so that the main character would experience a humiliating loss for once. A couple chapters later, I brought her back in, and THEN I gave her a name, personality, motivation, all that stuff. Thus, I did away with the common "if a character's introduced with a proper name, they'll be important" cliche you see everywhere.

    As for my other characters, I typically leave the physical stuff (what they wear, how their hair is styled, how tall they are, etc.) out since it's not that important to the story. It may be important for your story. I'm just saying that it's not a requirement for every piece of fiction ever written. Personality and motivation should be shown, not told. I'm writing my story in 1st person POV, so I have to show everyone who is not the main character's personality and motivations through the eyes of my main character, and that's done via dialogue and visual cues (ex.: a stern person has their rare smile called out whereas a bubbly person's smile goes unremarked). You, personally, don't go up to a stranger and say "Hi! I'm naive but have strong convictions about the beliefs I have about the world!" as an introduction, do you? (If you do, please disregard next sentence.) Then neither should your characters. Hope this all helps!
     
  9. jireh the provider

    jireh the provider Video Game Designer

    From my own experience, if you want to convince your readers that, let's say, you showed a very minor one time character, make it vague in your own terms.

    Some writers like to only show words said on a certain scene. When one properly, it creates an illusion that its the narrator telling you the words.
     

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