1. Ugh!
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    Ugh! New Member

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    Character Introductions

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ugh!, Aug 14, 2008.

    I'm writing a novel in Third Person Limited. Was wondering how should I introduce a new character that I've just switched POV with.
    Should I just name the character right off the bat and refer to said character by name from then on, OR just describe the character and keep referring to the character by pronouns until someone blurts out their name.

    What would you guys do. And what have you seen been done in novels in this kind of situation.

    Thanks!
     
  2. DarkMaiden273
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    DarkMaiden273 Member

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    Well most books I've read are in third person but most I write are in 1st. I think-and just opinion-that you should describe and use pronouns but don't wait long to have someone say their name. If it were my book--and you can totally ignore this--then I'd take a paragraph to describe then have 2nd para. them in thought-pronoun--to be snapped out by dialoge--introduce their name.

    Hope I helped.
     
  3. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    I have the same problem when it comes to introducing characters, especially in any form of third person. What I usually do is introduce the new characters through the first character I already introduced, and then if I want to follow those new characters for a while, I'll continue their scene and have the first character out of the picture for the moment.

    But I always feel as if I'm either describing the character too little or too much whenever I introduce them. I try to describe them discreetly and bit by bit as I go along, but sometimes that just still feels too little or too much, lol. It takes a lot of patience on my part, introducing my characters. I almost never like the first few turn outs.
     
  4. DarkMaiden273
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    DarkMaiden273 Member

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    I always used to do way too much back story or details on my characters in my story's but now I feel as though I'm not doing enough back story and am detailing my characters a little too much in the book I'm currently writing. Reading people's story's on here and the advice though seem to be helping me find some balance.
     
  5. alias
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    alias Member

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    I tend to get it out of the way as fast and efficiently as possible, for example.

    <Their name> was <doing whatever>
    then go from there.
     
  6. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I let the first person I've introduced take it up for the one I'm introducing. Here's an example:

    Adrian flopped his jersey onto the shelf and then looked towards the CRO screen. Still blank. He roared to himself and slammed a pack of matches on his tables, the wood crushing under the weight.
    "No luck?"
    He heard a mellow voice which made his heart sink. He hated her, and she always tipped in at the wrong time.
    "No."
    He muttered, and Jane giggled naughtily, her auburn hair flailing around as she bouncily pranced to Adrian. Adrian didn't even look at her - he could see her arched brown eyebrows and dirty green eyes mocking him, her pointy nose perked up like a crow's beak. Almost like a librarian, but here she was his colleague in Physics lab.

    Not the best example, but it shows something of a technique. Best wishes.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Hello Ugh, Welcome to the Writing Forums.

    There is no right answer to your question. You could give the name to the reader right off, or defer it to a more apptoprieta time. What is important is that you make certain the POV transition is clearly communicated to the reader. An identity is much more than a name.

    Posting your own work should not be the very first thing you do here. It is really worthwhile to see what other people have done to improve their writing, and see if some of it applies to your writing as well. That is part of why we require members to review other members' work before posting their own for review. On the other hand, there are no restrictions, other than content and copyright rules, on showcasing your work in your member blog.

    If you haven't explored the site yet, you should probably do so soon. Newcomers often gravitate to the Lounge, the Word Games, or the Review Room, but there is much more to be discovered if you poke in the corners. Remember to check out our FAQ as well, and be sure to read through the forum rules, too, to avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Respect for one another is our principal mandate.

    As for the Review Room, new joiners often wonder why we do things a bit differently on this site than on other writing sites. We emphasize reviewing as a critical writing skill. Training your eye by reviewing other people's work helps you improve your own writing even before you present it for others to see. Therefore, we ask members to review other people's writing before posting work of their own. The Review Room forums on this site, therefore, are true workshops, not just a bulletin board for displaying your work (and on that note, please only post each item for review in one Review Room forum). See this post, Why Write Reviews Before Posting My Work? for more information.

    And while you're looking around, don't forget to check out our Weekly Short Story Contest and Weekly Poetry Contest. They actually run more than one week apiece, but any member may enter, and all members are urged to vote for their favorites.

    Enjoy your stay here, and have fun!
     
  8. Ugh!
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    Ugh! New Member

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    Inkslinger, people have told me that less is more; so I don't think you should be too worried about under describing your characters.
    You said you would introduce new characters through characters you've already introduced. What if that character doesn't encounter other characters for a long time?
    I'm in that kind of mess right now. I kept calling my guy "the man" for like 4 pages, now.

    DarkMaiden, I'm wondering how you introduced new characters like a scene change in a movie. i.e. *After a section break* "A few hundred meters away, stood Kate, a soldier like Adam(main character). She was spying on him atop a cliff. . . .
    Or
    "A few hundred meters away, stood a girl about Adam's age. Her weather-beaten uniform and haggard looks mirrored Adam's image. She was spying on him atop a cliff. . . . (i made that up btw)

    Alias, Charisma are you writing in Third Person Limited or Omniscient.
     
  9. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Why do you have to call them "the man?" Is it the new characters POV? If yes, then you can just call them by their name. The readers will go, "Oh, I've never heard of this guy before, he must be a new character," and go on with it.

    Or have the person talk to themselves, like,

    "C'mon, John, you can do this. Just a little bit further..."
     
  10. Ugh!
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    Ugh! New Member

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    Thanks Kratos, good point. I think I might just go along with your first one. But talking to themselves, well, I've always found that kinda...meh. But that's just me.
     
  11. DarkMaiden273
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    DarkMaiden273 Member

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    I introduced it like the first one. *After a section break*. It was kind of either at the beginning of a new chapter that i would introduce a new character that way after the prev. one where I did a 'fade to black'.

    Or I just had them trail off in thought and then start a new section in that chapter with "A few hundred meters away, stood Kate,..."
     
  12. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    *Nods agreement with the first post (DarkMaiden's)*
     
  13. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    Oh, I know, trust me, I know, aheh. It's just, I usually complete those character surveys and charts, so I end up having A LOT of info on my characters by the beginning, and then I feel compelled to squeeze a lot of it in. Not smart, I know. I've gotten over it, it's just something I'm tempted to do. I realize being discrete in description is probably the best way to go. As a reader, I don't like it when an author goes into too much detail right off the bat about someone. I try to write by example what I would read or have read.

    lol, plenty of people talk to themselves. It's quite normal. I do it sometimes, usually without even realizing it. I think the example Kratos presented was really good. I usually tend to catch myself blurting out something to, well, myself when I'm doing something wrong or that doesn't make sense.

    Example of me "talking" to myself: "Why did I do that?" or "Wow, I'm an idiot."

    I think it's perfectly fine for a person to talk to himself every now and then, as long as it's not a conversation or something frequent. And, like Kratos said, it's best to introduce their name sooner or later. Four pages of calling him "the man" can probably grow a little tedious after maybe the second page. OR if you don't want your character talking to himself, how about present him doing something like checking the mail or checking phone messages or visiting a regular place he goes where some unimportant, throwaway, nameless character like 'waitress' knows him just because he's a constant customer? These all involving slipping in his name. There's plenty of scenarios. :)
     
  14. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    It depends on how the story flows. I have stories that switch POV between different char.

    All the tips are good to go with. I typically go with just using the persons name when pov switchs. When you start a story you just use the name so I consider a switch in pov a fresh start
     
  15. DarkMaiden273
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    DarkMaiden273 Member

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    Agrees. This is all very helpful. Some of it is giving me ideas on my story. :)
     
  16. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    When I'm introducing the character, I may briefly note details about his surroundings and such. Ex: "(character name) lay sprawled lazily over the soft surface of the leather couch, his limp arms dangling over the edge." After this I will note a few physical details before continuing on with the story and weaving this character into the plot.
     
  17. alias
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    alias Member

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    Third Person Omniscient, past tense. I orginally started writing it in present tense, now that IS hard to introduce characters in.
     
  18. draciaveil
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    draciaveil Member

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    I'd just say their name as soon as I could . . . their full name, even, unless for some reason you didn't want to. George R. R. Martin always does this, and he does a spectacular job of juggling POVs.
     
  19. Puzo44
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    Puzo44 Member

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    i know I am only 13 and there are better methods but for me I just start with the characters name and what their occupation is and their relation to the main character. I then just right sor tof a mini-biography on the character to introduce them.
     
  20. DarkMaiden273
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    DarkMaiden273 Member

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    If you start right off the bat with a mini-bio then you might be dumping too much info on the readers. You might want to try adding that in during parts of your story. Probably at beginning part I guess. I'm 14 and I'd try to make the relation fit into story instead of just coming out and stating it. Example: Your main character is Anne and after first chap. you switch P.O.V with Rose her BF.
    '"Anne. " Said her father in that disapproving tone he almost always used with her. She was almost always in trouble now a days it seemed. And for what? She hadnt done anything wrong. "..."
    Next Chapter:
    'In the living to her late father's estate sat 13 year old Rose .... Today she sat pondering what her best friend Anne was up to.'

    Not best example I know but I think you get my point, if not then sorry.

    Oops, forgot, I'm 15. HeHe L.O.L.
     
  21. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I just get the name out of the way and save myself from potentially awkward wording until someone says his/her name. I mean, if you're writing from the character's point of view, he's going to know his own name, so I don't see any point in pretending it's a mystery.

    As for the rest, I might give a brief description of his appearance, but intentionally leave out his past and personality. That's stuff to be revealed later on, unless it's relevant to the situation he's revealed in.

    That's what I think, anyway.
     
  22. Puzo44
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    Puzo44 Member

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    For example if it is a main guy I don't throw out his life story right up front but if it's a minor character I don't hesitate for a in depth description of them
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How often do you think of yourself by your name? Or for that matter, by your appearance, or your history, etc.

    If you are narrating from a character's perspective, try to write what that character would see and hear. not what you think the reader wants to know. The reader is watching and listening through a keyhole the size of a bay window.

    Even if the character is telling the story to an invisible friend, that friend won't need to be told the character's name and so on.
     
  24. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Even so, it seems an unnecessary bother to me. The only instances where I might not reveal the point of view character's name straight away is if I'm trying to build suspense (for a major villain, or some such thing), or if I'm writing in first person.

    Besides, if you're trying to write as realistically as that, where you only reveal the character's name when he/she is spoken to, you'd probably never get the person's name unless another character introduces him/her to someone else, or if someone is trying to get that character's attention. People don't often refer to each other by name either, right? :p
     

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