1. huskylover103
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    huskylover103 Member

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    grabbing a reader vs character development in the beginning

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by huskylover103, Jun 26, 2012.

    So, as you can see by how mush I keep posting on my first day of joining, I have lots of questions.

    This question is... how do you introduce the protagonist (or antagonist if you choose to start with them) while.. for lack of better words... jumping into the story and grabbing the readers attention?

    I have heard from some writers that if you dont grab the reader in the beginning, you wont keep them at all. There have been very few books that I have put down from being bored to death, but I certainly don't want to do that to my readers!
     
  2. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I myself am a bit wary of the "grab the reader" argument, or at least how most execute it. But to answer your question, it is precisely that introduction which is supposed to grab us. Often, delaying that introduction is one of the best ways to lose the reader. Don't spend too much time introducing the past or the setting. Actually introduce me to your character. And don't do it with a "this is Bill. He likes to fish" or anything like that. Your character is likely doing something at the very moment your story starts. Find a place to introduce me to them where they'll make an impression. You have total control as the writer.
     
  3. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    Well you should always start with some form of action and this will usually involve your MC (whether protagonist or antagonist) or at least one character. How to introduce your character comes down to your story and how best you want to present them to the reader. The decision you make is important and can influence the character development and how the reader's respond to the story. Again, I think this is a decision you have make as you're the only one who knows the context of your story.

    Personally, I find the best way to answer these kinds of questions is to look at books which you enjoy and see how the writer does it. You shouldn't emulate these works but you can learn some useful techniques and find out what you feel does and doesn't work.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In general, the best way to develop a character is to show him or her dealing with a crisis, big or small. That's an active scene, and a darned good starting point.
     
  5. huskylover103
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    huskylover103 Member

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    Thank you all for the responses, I really appreciate these! It's this type of information and feedback that makes me glad I joined!
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What everyone else said. You shouldn't think that introducing your MC means boring your reader. If you start off with your MC doing something important, or at least interesting, you introduce your MC while grabbing your reader at the same time. Two birds, one stone, no boredom. Such a deal!
     
  7. josie101
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    josie101 Member

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    I sometimes see in books they immediately try to grab you in the beginning paragraph, and they introduce the characters actions in the beginning. But they mostly describe the setting and history later in the first part of the book. I don't know if this helps but just what I noticed in books :)
     
  8. JessWrite
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    JessWrite Word Nerd & Proud! Contributor

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    You can always start out with your character talking...dialogue with action shows the character well in the beginning. Even if they are just talking to themselves. haha Well, that's what draws me in. ;)
     
  9. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Start with an action sequence or like Cogito said: a crisis, major or minor, like the pasta water boiling over...most readers usually follow right along. Seriously, how many books, (outside of the Dick and Jane sort), start with: 'This is Pete. Pete is kind. Pete likes peanut butter and puppies, but does Pete like peanut butter, chunky or creamy?' If you are writing historical fiction, a simple statement of location and time at the start of the chapter, much like an address, can provide critical information without a verbiage overload, (which my post seems in danger of becoming...:eek:).

    Soliloquies can be a great way to reveal a bit about a character's personality while getting the story moving. The things characters say when they think no one is listening...or...well...reading.

    The unexpected is what traps the reader's attention. Well written characters, both protagonists and antagonists, should have enough personality showing within the first chapters to keep the reader motivated. Flaws and strengths appear and develop as the storyline evolves. Just like in life, make it believable.

    - Darkkin
     
  10. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Its been said a few times over now, but start with an action sequence of some kind. The introduction of the character is a good hook, but try having them in the midst of some deep thought or decision, or have them doing something or going somewhere. As to where they might be going we, as readers don't need to know off the bat, nor must we know the background of the dilemma yet; those are things that will be revealed through though sequence, or dialogue as the plot continues.

    Maybe a sentence or two telling us where we are might be appropriate. I wrote a scene describing the beginning of the univers, but since it is such an abstract idea that I really wanted my readers to envison as I had so I used a very specific paragraph to get them to see where we are. Then the very first sentence in the next paragraph introduces a character, a conscious spirit is how I describe him, but from there I go into what he sees and does and let the world build from there with the character.

    If I had to put a sequence to it, I'd say it has a "Intro --> Revelation" format. Introduce the character and setting together, and reveal more about them through action :) but thats just the first paragraphs. Within the First few Pages, readers need to see the MC engaged in something and that something has to display enough about their personality, that the reader can really see and know them so when something unexpected happens in their life the reader can get excited about the eminent change.

    I hope that helps
     
  11. huskylover103
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    huskylover103 Member

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    Oh, thank you everyone! I decided to keep the beginning I had. It started with him moving. :) He doesn't like it, but he wants to please his mom whom he's really close to, so he is faking enthusiasm for her. I thought it was boring at first... but I re-read what I wrote AFTER listening to you guys... and I shouldn't always dismiss my ideas. Now I think it's pretty good. ;) THANKS!
     

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