Home » Writing » Oh, have you met…?

Oh, have you met…?

One thing I get excited about writing and about reading is character introductions.

It’s great fun to be introduced to different characters, and the way they are presented to the reader and other characters from the outset.

When I write, I feel the way a character is introduced gives an instant impression of what that character is like, and also lets the reader know what part they are going to play.

For example, in Pride and Prejudice, Mrs Bennett talks about Darcy before we meet him, and that’s all very nice, but it’s his proper introduction that gives us that instant sense of the character.

It also becomes very, very obvious that he is going to be a romantic interest! Darcy is handsome and rich, but he’s not exactly very nice. Instant sense of character.

But that is rather a tame introduction. I do like when characters are introduced in fun or dramatic ways 😀

Romantic interests are usually introduced in such a way so as the reader knows it’s them. But still, when introducting a character, you want to be able to get across that first impression of who they are and what they are like. For example, when I introduced the romantic interest in Heart of the Arena, I was trying to get across the fact he was not only a romantic interest, but also his character and manner itself.

‘The two iron gates swung open and three of Sentius’ guards, wearing his uniform of distinct, red leather, entered and parted to reveal the gladiator behind. The primus palus was taller than his Roman escorts, his torso broad, muscled and defined, his arms thick and solid with obvious strength. He strode with a great confidence towards the mess. As he neared, Sabina found her throat becoming dry. He stopped at their table and took a seat by Appius.
“Where have you been, Cassian?” Carantii asked.
“Accompanying Sentius,” Cassian replied with a voice that surprised her with how well spoken it was, his soft accent evidence that it was not his native tongue. “Attempting to convince the man hosting the next games to use this ludus’ gladiators.” As he rested his arms on the table Sabina tried not to notice the way his muscles flexed, almost knocking over her mug in her haste to look away.
“Did you succeed?” Atto asked.
“Of course, who could refuse after laying eyes upon me?” Cassian gave a lopsided smile that exuded charm, a smile that would have made any woman weak to his requests. A laugh passed over the gathered gladiators and Sabina brought herself back from her gazing.’

Cassian is confident and a little egotistical 😀 I wanted to get across those fact upon first meeting.

But then there’s the other type of character to introduce. The bad guy or villain. They can be great fun!

Here’s the introduction of the Jester in The Queen’s Jester:

‘“Lords, ladies, Your Highness and Your Majesty.” He bowed low and Marie smiled at him politely. “There is one final act to present tonight, a performer of great agility, dexterity and a sharp wit to boot.” A small chuckle spread through the crowd and the little man shuffled to one side as a pair of topless men stepped forwards carrying flaming torches. “I give to you your entertainer, your performer. Your jester.”
Marie gasped as the two men blew against the torches, the flames bursting into life in a blinding flash and sizzling in the air. She shielded herself from the intense light and heat, only daring to turn back when the brightness subsided.
The flickering orange flames curled outwards, as though drawn away from whoever was walking through them. Through the parting curtain of fire, a pair of striking green eyes caught her own and stole her breath away. The jester was not what she’d been expecting and suddenly her reservations about having a fool in court vanished.’

You can tell he’s bad news, at least I’m hoping you can 😀 From the flames and magic, it gives the impression of someone you don’t want to get near, but Marie finds herself drawn to.

Another introduction that stuck in my head is Diesel from Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich. Brilliant introduction!

‘He appeared out of nowhere. One minute I was sipping on my coffee, mentally planning out my day. And then the next minute… poof, there he was.’

You get the immediate sense that this guy is not going to be what he seems 😀

The way to introduce a character can be great fun, and it’s something I always look forward to reading when I crack open a new book! But it’s also fun to write, playing around with characters and finding the exact best way to introduce them to readers and give that first impression.

They do say you never get a second chance to make a first impression 😀

Have you written any introductions you love? Have you read a book with a great character introduction? Is there a particular way you like to introduce your characters?

Progress Report

Publishing status:
> Stolen BloodlineMarketing.
> The Queen’s Jester Marketing.
> Heart of the ArenaMarketing.

May E-Book Review: Book read. Review written.

39 thoughts on “Oh, have you met…?

  1. Nice post Harliqueen. You are so write about first impressions. I don’t know if I love my introductions but I always like to bring my heroes in in a way that sez they are gonna be trouble. My heroines too. In Lady Fury I had Flint literally step from the shadows she’s kept him in for 7 years.

    • It is great fun to have those instant moments where a character can make such an impression! 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂 Also, can’t wait to read your books! The titles and covers are amazing.

  2. I’m having a hard time thinking of examples right this minute, but one of my favourite ways characters can be introduced is when they give someone the wrong impression about them – it gives them an early motivation to prove to that someone that they’re not the dolt they first appeared to be 🙂

    Great topic!

    • I do love that too 😀 When characters get into a muddle and they have to work through their first impressions and find out what they’re really like!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  3. First impressions are very important with characters, they go a long way towards setting up the plot and establishing our expectations. I love the snippets of your own introductions you shared with us as well 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked them. I really try not to shove my writing in people’s faces, but I’m just so excited about them being released soon 😀

      Introductions are a great tool for helping to not only set up characters but the story, as you say. It’s fun to try out different ways!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  4. Nice post, Harliqueen! You write well, and your stories sound interesting, too. I need to learn how to get back into the introductory and show aspects of my own writing. Lots of bad advice led me to believe it wasn’t a good idea to write descriptively anywhere in a manuscript and I was dumb enough to believe them :p Have a nice day!

    • I think it’s about choosing what *you* like for your writing. Advice and rules are everywhere, but I think it’s better to choose how you like to write.

      I am not a big descriptive writer, but I do love it and I love reading it!

      Plus, I do love dramatic moments in books, and introductions seem a great place for that 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  5. I agree with you. I like to read that part of stories, too. I want to know where I’m at in the story, who the people are I’m reading about, and what they’re like, even why they’re the way they are. I’m also a fan of dialogue tags other than SAID because it helps me to better understand the speakers moods. So, with your sense of spirit in mind, I will continue to practice reverting back to the way I used to write, before I let others try and influence me. You’re welcome!

    • I’m glad 😀 It’s a fun thing to think of, and I was surprised at how many great character introductions there are that I’ve read!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

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  7. Introductions are definitely something I could stand to work on; I always worry about boring readers with details, though I think I’ve got a few decent ones on my hand. The whole thing reminds me of the beginning of Little Women, where Alcott goes on to describe the sisters because “young readers like to know `how people look’.” Oh, if only it was that easy! And introductions impart more than what a character looks like, but also sets up our first impression of them as a character, as in your examples.

    • Not just young readers I’d imagine 😀 Most people like to know how a character looks, so as they can get that instant sense of the overall character from the start, as you would in real life!

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting 🙂

  8. Great question – if we don’t introduce our characters properly then we risk alienating them from our readers. I haven’t really thought about this in depth before, and I love that you bring these things to our attention. I do work hard on developing my characters, and their introduction will now be the first thing I look at when I’m reviewing their role 🙂

    • Thank you, glad you think it’s a good topic 😀 It is fun to think about these small but important parts of writing!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  9. Nice post! It’s funny because I’m actually interviewing one of my characters over on another blog today and had to sort of combine the voice with introducing people to the character 🙂 Guess today is all about characters!

    • Well, characters are one of the most important parts of writing, and it’s always fun to learn more 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂 Will make sure to check out your character interview!

  10. I like this post on introducing characters. You’re examples make me want to go back to view how I have introduced characters in my stories. I find villains to be the most fun to introduce–I tend to put more animation into them–primarily through dialogue. Out of the books I’ve read thus far, I don’t have a favorite introduction off the top of my head, but the most challenging characters (villain or defiant) have been most rememberable to me.

    • I’m glad you like the post 😀 I like trying to find different things to look at in writing and reading! I have most fun with the villains too, I don’t know why but it feels like you can have more fun with them, more options.

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  11. A really nice post on character introduction. You have a good handle on the methods for bringing across a full character profile in a few words. That’s not always an easy thing to do. I have not written the introduction paragraphs on the crime novel that I am more than 30,000 words into, because I wanted to get to know my main character better before I do. Often, until I see their behaviors unfold, I don’t have a clue what to say about them, so it becomes part of the editing process for me. Thank you for your insights.

    • I think it’s a great idea to hold off on writing the intro until you know the character better. Your introduction will be much stronger for it 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  12. Characters are what get me to read, and keep me reading– lovely post, as usual. Can’t forget Darcy’s intro in P&P– one of the best 🙂

    • That’s exactly how I feel 😀 Characters are what draw me into a book and story, so a strong introductions helps keep me reading!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

    • Most authors do great character introductions without realising, so I’m sure yours are great already! 😀 It was just something I was starting to notice as I was reading.

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

    • I’ve read your writing, and you have a real talent!

      I just thought character introductions was an interesting subject, and I realised I hadn’t really thought on it before 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  13. I’m not the only one! I love meeting new characters! And I love introducing them too. There’s something magical about first impressions – especially unexpected ones.

    By the way those excerpts are pretty tempting. Can’t wait to read something of yours – Stolen’s the one that comes out soon right? Where’s the Goodreads page? I wanna add it.

  14. I never really thought about this before, but now that you mention it, they way my major characters are introduced to the story does reflect quite well on who they are and what they will bring to the table.

    But now I’m going to make sure it’s like that for every one of them. Thanks for the tip!

    • Glad the post helped 😀 It’s something I’d never really thought of before either, until I sat back and realised how much I like reading character introductions!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

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