Introduction in a chapter, for a character

Most of the time when writers talk about their characters, it’s about their personalities or physical descriptions. We try to round out the characters in our head before we get them on paper, but we forgot that readers need an introduction because they can’t see them as well as writers can.

Think of it this way – you judge somebody within the first few seconds of meeting them, whether you want to or not. You judge them based on what they where, their skin color or the first thing out of their mouths. But when it’s all on paper, we’re reading those descriptions. Even though it changes the transfer of information, readers still judge them.

Which is why, I consider this one of the finer introductions for a character (even though we learned about him some in the previous chapter).

“In his secret heart, Steve fancied that he was a Buddhist. / A couple years ago, following a whim, he’d picked up a copy of Buddhism for Dummies at the bookstore.” (Hawkins 34).

I loved how it introduced the character with a thought – not even a main thought, just one of those errant thoughts you get in your head as you wonder if something is or isn’t true, maybe you should try it but you’d be crazy if you do… that kind of thought.

The kind where I want to try backpacking for a week or so, but I’m scared of bears eating me in my sleep even though I know that probably won’t happen.

I think it also leads to a great transition because the character is force to mule over the thought, which explains that he wants peace and tranquility and why can’t he do it – because he has a real job as a plumber in Virginia. It gives a great background of the character without outright just stating, Steve is a plumber and he’s a peace-desiring person. It shows rather than tells.

Hawkins, Scott. The Library at Mount Char. New York, NY: Crown Publishers, 2015. Print.


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