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  1. Aaron_Bettss

    Aaron_Bettss New Member

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    How do I introduce multiple characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Aaron_Bettss, Oct 19, 2013.

    Hey, I'm working on this fan fiction story thing and it includes five soldiers. The main character is the typical rookie kind of guy and thats all done and I've introduced the leader of the group who is one of the four supporting main characters but I have no idea how to introduce the other three without just repeating the same "Appearance, back story, says something to the main character" thing. I only just realized that the development and introduction of the three supporting characters is really rubbish and I won't be able to continue with the story if I don't address this now because it will bug me. So has anyone got any tips or ideas? for further help, the story is set in 1963, during the Cold War, it's a horror/ adventure and the five guys are Marines. So yeah any help would be great!
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Just bring them "on-set." You can slip in a little of who they are later, but it's better if they just show us who they are. Give them action and purpose first in what is going on in the moment. What I think is happening here is that you aren't trusting enough in the reader to stitch the pieces together.
     
  3. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Introduce them gradually. The first time they come into the scene, include their name and have them do or say something that distinguishes them from the others. Over the first few pages/chapters, readers will learn about them and remember who's who. (Personally, I hate mass intros - just another form of info-dump.)
     
  4. obsidian_cicatrix

    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Appearance doesn't have to be detailed immediately and, as a supporting character, the back story is only important if it directly affects the story... in fact, it might well seem completely superfluous to requirements if you dwell on things it's unnecessary for the reader to know.

    Ah... Wrey's just posted ahead of me. And Shadowalker.

    I agree. Better to put them in-scene, and let them, and the reader get on with it. Sometimes what they will do says reams more about them than what can be comfortably exposited.
     
  5. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    What everyone else said. We become acquainted with characters as the story progresses. If you try to write too much about each character as soon as they appear on the scene it could put readers off. Just have them show up and start doing whatever it is they do.
     
  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree--just bring them onstage. *You* can have their backstory developed back to birth if you want to, but there's no need to present that.

    For example, if James stepped on a mine, lost a leg, spent eighteen months in rehab learning to walk with an artificial leg, got a divorce from his wife, fought for custody of his children and lost, spent two years in therapy recovering from all of the emotional trauma, and is now in his twelfth year as a uniquely skilled civilian consultant owning a company that made half a billion dollars in sales last year, he could be introduced as:

    A third man entered and limped to take a chair at the conference table. Smith folded his arms as he studied the newcomer--civilian khakis and a polo, an expensive looking haircut, and at least ten years older than these baby-faced Marines. Hmmm.

    (Assuming that Smith is the POV character.)

    The limp, the age, the visible evidence of civilian status, and the mild evidence of financial prosperity, is really all that would be apparent to an observer at this point. So that's all you provide.
     
  7. JayG

    JayG Banned Contributor

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    First, go through what you have, highlight all the backstory and the appearance items, and then press the delete button. Why? Because all that comes from you and you're not in the story. Because you're informing not entertaining. Because while you're talking nothing at all is taking place in the story. And because before you finish educating that reader in what has gone before and gossip you're talking to yourself because the audience has left the room in search of something entertaining.

    Is that one person you mentioned your POV character? If he is get into his POV, take the reader, and stay there. What he notices and reacts to counts. How he reacts counts. What he thinks counts. His past? That's history, and every bit as interesting as your classmates found their history books. If it matters let someone ask about it. Let him remember and use some fact from his past to solve a problem in the present. If he has blond hair and it matters to the plot have someone call him Blondie, or a dumb blond. But don't stop the action to tell the readers anything they don't need to know right then.

    If the second character walk into the room, and your protagonist sees him for the first time, let him say, "You must be new. Hi, I'm Jack." Or, he might think, Who the hell is this yutz? or... If it's not the same time he might say, "Hey Jake, how's your hammer hanging," or "Good morning, sir," depending on the situation and their relationship. Our view and opinion of the person who walks in should be the protagonist's assessment in that moment. And unless that character launches into personal history, for some real purpose you don't need to present it. Why? Because if our avatar, the POV character isn't curious enough to ask neither are we.
     
    jannert likes this.
  8. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, this.

    Once we get interested in characters because of what they do or say in their 'introductory' scenes, THEN we'll be interested in finding out more about what makes them tick.

    If you give us all their backstory first, it just becomes a list of facts to remember about people we don't know or care about. And we don't remember lists of facts very well, do we?
     
  9. XtremeOne1

    XtremeOne1 New Member

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    Yeah, I'll throw my hate into the ring into "introduce them first" and give back story later. If you're story is through the rookie's PoV, and you want to give a little background on these new characters, you can always just provide a little background like "So and so had heard much about him..." and maybe a little bit about what he heard. Not some detailed background but just a little info dump.

    Of course, doing that for four other characters could be a bit much, so you could just choose ONE character to do for, maybe the one who would be the most talked about/legendary soldier.
     

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