1. Psychopath toaster
    Offline

    Psychopath toaster New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0

    Introducing characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Psychopath toaster, Sep 3, 2009.

    Hey,

    I wasn't sure if this was the right place for this, but I couldn't really find better.

    I was wondering about how to introduce characters. Should it be very detailed, how they look physically, how they are (personality), what they do, ... with very specific words?

    I often find this pretty dull, seeing as I can usually not imagine the character, and the character simply ends up having no face when I picture him.

    Would it be okay to introduce him very briefly, with only a few details, such as "tall, muscular, handsome" , or "short, ugly, and a disproportianal body".

    Is it okay to sort of "skip" the introduction of a character, and simply get into the story right away?

    Would it bother you to not to have a very detailed description of the different characters?

    How much would you like to know about them?

    I realise this might be hard to talk about, but I'd really appreciate your thoughts =)
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    In my opinion, the best way to introduce a character is to show him or her coping with some difficulty. Keep the physical description to a minimum. You can work some of it in later, but make sure whatever description you inttroduce is consistent with the viewpoint.

    For example, if the viewpoint is that of a character who has known the character you wish to describe for years, the describing character is not likely to be thinking of the other character's height, hair or eye color, or facial shape. So describing the character in such detail from that point of view would be a mistake.

    You can't have a character take part in a story without an introduction. That character's entry into the story in an active role IS an introduction. Just try to mot make it too obvious.
     
  3. Hindumaliman
    Offline

    Hindumaliman Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2009
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    A place
    When it comes to describing character make first jab at describing the character of said individual, but show don't tell.

    Next you should use plenty of simile in your description, this in my oppinion makes them much less dull.

    I know most of the great books I read put very little into real detailed description of character allowing me, the reader, to use my bloody imagining box.
     
  4. DragonGrim
    Offline

    DragonGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Iowa
    What do you want from the character? What impact does the character have on the story? Important characters need more description than others. Slightly unusual features are all you should mention. Don't give everyone's eye color or hair style. Don't give me a list of every day clothes (though don't listen to me, I've read many stories that do the latter) Also, if your character is fat, don't tell me about it. If the character tries to get in a compact car, go ahead and show it. Unless it's a mean rich person and you want to stress gluttony. There's always an unless. The details should be for a reason.

    Example: Samantha was short. She could barely reach the pedals with her small feet. The kid playing with a toy was below the hood, where she couldn't see. She released the emergency beak and strained to see over the steering wheel. I ran toward the child, but I din't know if I could get there on time.

    That's how I see it. I don't know if I always stick to it though. But I do as much as possible.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Let me take that same example and remove the first two sentences:
    You immediately know Samantha is short without having to explicitly say it. Tall people don't have to strain to look over te steering wheel.
     
  6. Cheeno
    Offline

    Cheeno Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Ireland
    I'd suggest describing only what matters at that point in time, pertinant to whatever's happening in that specific scene. Otherwise, leave it out.
     
  7. DragonGrim
    Offline

    DragonGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Iowa
    Cogito and Cheeno have good advice, but it's the minimalist way of looking at it. Most books give superfluous details.
     
  8. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    There's a school of thought that your main protagonist should have as little description as possible. The theory is that your reader will see him or herself in the character.

    This is especially true for first person or limited third person POV narrative, where your POV character is unlikely to see himself or herself physically without a mirror, and your "camera" is behind the eyes of that character.

    Charlie
     
  9. Psychopath toaster
    Offline

    Psychopath toaster New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the answers.

    Well I'm glad to see no one really seems to like huge descriptions.

    I admit that if I give very little information about how they look, that gives the reader the possibility to imagine them how he wants.

    And for the psychological side, well, I'll try to develop that as I go along. It will go well with my kind of story =)
     
  10. B-Gas
    Offline

    B-Gas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    14
    The main thing with introductions is to think, "Is it important?"

    Do we need to know this character's hair colour? No. Do we need to know that this other character gazes at the first's hair, that he watches it, that he wishes he could run his hands through it? Yes, if that helps us see the guy in a new light. Thus, if it's from the second character's perspective, a wee bit of purple prose would probably be appropriate when the first is introduced.

    Do we need to know that the guy has scars all over him? Probably not. Will his scars be important later- he gets recognised by them, they itch when he puts on armor, they make his job search more interesting? Then we should probably hear about them.

    If it has plot impact, or helps us get into the characters' heads, then we should hear about it. If it's eye colour, it's probably fine to leave it up to the reader.
     
  11. Dean_Mehrkens
    Offline

    Dean_Mehrkens Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Since everything else looks to have been addressed, I'll take it from a slightly different angle.

    My advise is to find something for your reader to latch onto. I've read a lot of books that introduce a second or third character before I have a feel for the first. They all get jumbled together in my mind and for the rest of the book I'm trying to figure out if Stanley was the plumber and Alvin was the dentist, or the other way around.

    I think its important to give readers something very vivid to latch onto. Instead of saying Alvin is a dentist, let the reader know he's a dentist who smokes heavily. More so, tell the reader what he smokes. 3 packs of Marbs a day will leave a more clear impression and give the reader something to latch onto. Even if they can't remember who the heck Stanley is, at least he's got a clear idea of who Alvin is.

    Remember, it's not the amount of details, but the depth of detail, that counts.
     

Share This Page