1. passenger
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    passenger Member

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    New to writing, is it okay to introduce a character like this?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by passenger, Oct 23, 2014.

    I've got seven characters, I started introducing them like this. Just wondering if this is okay. Are there better ways?

    "SHUAGHTGUNN!" Jake said, jumping to his feet as he grabbed his Converse running after Seth. Jake being the youngest brother at 26, but looking only 16, constantly trying to make up for his lack in stature with levity and sarcasm in every situation and conversation possible.
     
  2. jonahmann
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    jonahmann Active Member

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    This is good, but

    this could be shown through action, rather than told.
     
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  3. passenger
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    passenger Member

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    Sounds good, thanks i'll change it.

    Also, I'm having a hard time putting information in the story without interrupting my characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is I've got seven characters and all the information is being dialogued. I'm trying to switch it up, adding a narrator that has the information instead. But I don't know where to put it, because I always feel like I'm interrupting my characters. Do you have any recommendations on maybe a book I can read that would help them get a feel for this approach.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I'd start with something else. You've thrown us into an action situation which you then stop and explain—which completely neutralises the impact of the action. Don't be afraid to start at a slower moment and build up.

    Let us meet this character first, get to know him and his brother, see what the two of them are like together, get to know his personality before handing him a shotgun! Don't TELL us Jake is always using sarcasm to overcome his height deficiency ...SHOW him actually doing this. Maybe Seth teases him about being short, and Jake reacts with a witty put-down. Let the readers draw their own conclusions about the sarcasm and Jake's motivation.

    You really need to work on SEEING and HEARING your characters speak and watch them doing stuff, so we can see and hear and watch them too.

    I think the fact that you need to keep 'interrupting' your characters to add information about them says it all, really. You need to start your story earlier, and go more slowly. Don't just dump information on us, give us a scene or two that shows us what these characters are like.

    A good rule of thumb is to begin with what the characters' "normality" is like, just before major changes start or action occurs. In that start period, let us see what is important to the characters. What do they value? What would it be very hard for them to lose? What do they want to happen? What are they afraid of? Are they interested in protecting something? Are they just looking forward to a good time wherever it is they're going? What are they worried about? What is going on in their heads?

    Set that up—and then yank the rug out from under them. By that time, we'll be invested in their story. If you just start with the yanked rug, we won't care. Excitement is better if you build it; don't just explode it in our faces at the start.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You asked for a book that might help you with your writing issues. There are many, but if you haven't already, I'd get hold of the latest (and some of the previous) edition of The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, that is published often by Writer's Digest Books. The earlier version were entitled The Writer's Digest Handbook of Novel Writing, but they're essentially the same format.

    These books contain contributions on various topics written by 'real' authors, some of whom you may recognise by name. Because there are so many contributing authors, you're not just getting one person's idea of how to write—which is good.

    I own two copies, both of which contain totally different articles, content and writers. My first one is the one published in 1992. I also have one published in 2002. I prefer the 1992 version because it concerns itself more with the writing process and less with the selling process, which is a large part of the end content in the more recent versions of this book. Not that it's not important to sell, but I think it's more important to get the thing written first!

    However, there is a chapter in the 2002 version, written by James Scott Bell that you might find particularly interesting, entitled: Seven Tools for Talk. In one part of this chapter, he says:

    I hope this helps.
     
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  6. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Great advice from Jannert.

    I'm still fairly new to writing so I remember feeling as you do now all too well. Inundated. ;) This is how I made sense of relaying information to start with:

    I'm a hobbyist artist/photographer. Sometimes I want my pic to be a standard shot, or a close up. I think of this as seeing through the eyes of my POV (point of view) character. It's more visceral, immediate, sometimes intuitive, perfect for dialogue and exchanges, up close and personal action scenes, etc. Other times, I want to take a pic but I don't want to disturb the subject, so I use my zoom lens. I think of it as being my narrator. It has the capability to take close up shots of the subject without him/her/it seeing, but also has the advantage of being able to incorporate a wealth of detail, some of which the POV character may or may not be aware of.

    So, in a nutshell, I think that if you are finding that you are interrupting what's going on, it could be because you are not using the right voice, i.e. lens for the situation, or that the transition from one to the other could do with being smoothed out, quickened up or slowed down.

    Every writer will go about it differently, varying quantities of showing and telling, dialogue, action and narration, and these are things that give rise to individual style. As well as how-to books on the basics, it does no harm to dip in and out of books written in various styles, and various genres to see how established writers go about it.
     
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  7. karmazon
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    karmazon Member

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    I agree with jonahmann. The first sentence starts with a bang and I want to know what happens next but instead I get a much longer sentence of pure exposition which can be easily shown later on.
     
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  8. Shayla
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    Shayla Member

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    It's great description but too much for one sentence. Why does he look so young? You could say something like "at 26 his lack of facial hair declined his age by a decade"
    I would also let him be sarcastic a few more times before telling us why he's like that as it's not yet obvious that he's sarcastic. Think about what people do to show sarcasm - smirking, raising an eyebrow, acting the clown.
     
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  9. Stephen Paden
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    Stephen Paden Member

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    As far as grabbing the reader, this is great. You need to wordsmith this, and as another member suggested, show the action, don't tell us about it. Perhaps something like this:

    "SHOTGUN!" Jake said. He jumped to his feet and grabbed his outdated (but always in style) Converse high-tops and ran after Seth.

    The next sentence really doesn't make sense as it pertains to the first, but I suspect we are missing the context of it all.
     

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