Written by writ-write-wrote
, and this is a follow-up from her previous post which be located here
Now that we have some ideas on what not to do when introducing your characters to the story, let’s fill in the blanks and find out what you should do.
First, the tips I gave yesterday:
• When you first introduce a character, I would suggest giving their name, their relation to the main character/narrator, and a few thoughts and opinions about them.
These thoughts and opinions could be “The first time I met Andrew, I made him laugh so hard he spat his gum in my hair.” or “She’s allergic to dairy, so I’m not really sure why she suggested pizza for dinner.” It can be a memory, a fun fact, a needed detail somewhere in the story, maybe even a plot twist if you really want.
Also please note that obviously this isn’t something you need to do in exact order or in rapid fire. Personally, I think names should be the first on the list, but be creative. Spread it out over a few paragraphs. Make sure it goes with how your story’s been so far.
• We don’t have to learn about [character] all at once, but by the time the story’s finished [character] should be a close acquaintance to us.
We should learn about them as if we’re learning about them in real life—your story is real life. Little bits and pieces, sometimes a big revelation, maybe a lie here and there. Eventually, all of this will build up into knowing them.
Now for some new information.
• Bring them up before bringing them in
This could be done by saying “Hey Jenny, WHATSAMAHOOSITS called, she wanted to know if you wanted to help her with babysitting tomorrow.” or by mentioning them in internal dialogue.
After bringing them up, you could introduce them before actually meeting them, by letting us learn more about them; maybe WHATSAMAHOOSITS actually doesn’t like kids, and this was their first time mentioning babysitting. Your character could—briefly enough—reflect on this, and maybe come up with ideas as to why this is happening (or you could be more creative than me.)
• There’s a current predicament that your character needs them
Add some tweaks and flip around the Jenny and WHATSAMAHOOSITS situation. Maybe WHATSAMAHOOSITS is your main character, needing Jenny to help out because they don’t know a thing about taking care of children and Jenny is known to be a maternal person. Ta da! Enter: Jenny.
• Oh, what a coincidence! You’re here too?
A chance meeting at a public place or event, or simply your character wasn’t aware that newb would be there so it seems like chance. It could be at a party, grocery store, arcade, movie theatre, school bathroom, hockey game… Just please don’t make it be at someone else’s house, because that can be both awkward and creepy.
Also please note that this could be considered cliche and uncreative. But if you need a simple meetup between characters and swear on the Internet that you won’t use it more than 25% of the time, I find it to be acceptable. And it can’t be a “oh, you’re at the party too and you brought an extra present? Thank god; you just saved me from the apocalypse” (what?). Don’t go easy on your characters; don’t give them an easy way out with a new character.