Character Entrance 5: Setting

This method of character intro is not so much about the character as it is about the setting. However, by dwelling on the setting, you shade the sketch of the character in the reader’s mind. The fascinating result you will accomplish through this intentional shading is that your character shines with a sense of familiarity later when he takes over as the subject of your story.


In a nutshell, this method does not explore the character’s physical description or thoughts or much of his actions. Yet, by focussing on the setting (place and time), your reader could reasonably guess the character’s appearance and personality. The exciting thing about this method is that it’s satisfying when readers discover they were right about who they thought your character was or would become.


The fantastic beauty of this character intro method lies in its ability to multitask between setting description and character intro. This is an excellent example of killing two birds with one stone.


What do you think about this writing key? Please tell us in the comments. Remember to keep a date with us next Monday for more keys to improve your storytelling skill.

Character Entrance 4: Report

This method of character introduction brings a character on stage by reporting how other characters perceive him. Therefore, who the character is or eventually becomes to the reader is who other characters in the story say he is.

This method works best when you want to introduce a public figure into your story. A celebrity, for example. Commonly, famous people have a public image usually known to everyone in the story world. And sometimes, even before the character steps into the story, his name or what other characters know him by glides through the story from the other characters’ viewpoints.

Also, Reporting as a Character Entrance method doesn’t have to be restricted to famous characters alone. As long as you want your readers to see the character for the first time through other characters, this method will serve you.

Example:

That night, when Christian Fall fell off the bridge, everyone who heard knew that it wasn’t because he had been drinking. They couldn’t remember a night when Christian wasn’t drunk, especially since Helen, his wife, died on their wedding night. Tonight, the little towners feel both guilty and relieved. The only financial and emotional charity case they have lay bloated on the riverbank. Dead. Now, they must find another. Because they must continue to be good people.

We would love to hear your views on this creative writing key in the comments. See you following Monday for the creative writing key on Character Entrance 5.

Character Entrance 3: Addressing The Reader

This method of character introduction is pretty simple – the character is the narrator of the story. So, your readers can only see the story (or that portion of the story) unfold from the narrating character’s viewpoint. In other words, you’re choosing to write your story from the first-person point of view.

Meanwhile, this creative writing key is about introducing the character (narrator) and not about story writing in general. In trying to explore this method of character introduction, the first thing you will notice is that from the very first word you will ever write in the story, you have relinquished your right to tell the story to this character. By extension, the character introduces themself into the story with the first-person narrative pronoun, I.

The common challenge most writers face with this character introduction method, especially amateur writers, is giving the character a distinctive voice. Your character should have his own words and his manner about them. He should speak like someone possessing his level of intelligence.

One major letdown you would give your readers by choosing to introduce a character through this method is to have the character speak like you (except you’re writing a memoir or autobiography. In which case, it wouldn’t be fiction anymore). To pull this method off involves a lot of unbecoming of yourself, and more of the assumption of the voice, quirks and mannerisms of the phantom you want your readers to see as reality with flesh and blood.

In this method, you don’t get to enjoy telling the story from a detached distance. You will find the dominant pronouns would be I, My, Our. If the character’s wife just died, it would be your wife who died. If he’s getting married, it’d be you at the altar. And pray he hasn’t found himself at gunpoint. Or at a divorce court, about to lose 50% of his assets. In all these cases, it would be you, and you must represent the character the way he would react in such situations for your readers to appreciate your storytelling.

We would love to hear your views on this creative writing key in the comments. See you next Monday for the creative writing key on Character Entrance 4.

Character Entrance 2: Action

It is safe to say that stories are about actions. Often in telling a story, it might be inevitable to explore the motivations and consequences of your characters’ actions. While this exploration might be essential, they only create contexts for your readers to perceive your character’s actions.

Since stories anchor largely on character actions, one interesting way to introduce a character is to show the character engaged in some Actions. The Actions don’t necessarily have to be something pivotal to the general story idea. It only needs to show one or more aspects of the character’s personality.

Example:

The man kept grunting, powerful left arm gripping the slender waist of the naked lady perched atop him on the sofa. He bounced her hips gently on his crotch, cupping her mouth like an overpowered victim. The cushions of the sofa rose and fell rhythmically to their weight. Gradually, the white habit he peeled off her skin slid from the sofa to join his black shirt on the floor. A Roman collar stuck out of his shirt’s neckline with a screaming whiteness.

While introducing a character through Description creates a mental picture, introduction through Actions creates a mental video in your reader’s mind.

HOWEVER! HOWEVER!!

Just like introduction through Description, choosing to introduce a character into your story through Actions should depend on what you want to accomplish. Your motive should also determine how much Action you reveal or withhold.

Book Example: (TAINTED by Xyvah M. Okoye)

A branch snapped, and Regan sailed on a wind current as his sister cheered below him, dancing to an inaudible tune. He smiled, dark hair swaying as he floated upside down, then did a quick somersault and landed gracefully on the grass, arms akimbo.

How do you perceive Xyvah’s Regan, and how do the actions in the above paragraph determine that? We would love to hear your views in the comments. See you next Monday for the creative writing key on Character Entrance 3.

Character Entrance

It is often the case for storytellers to drop a character into the story without considering the significance of such an introduction. As long as the story moves ahead, they believe the character works. 

But the experience is not always the same for the reader. Much like real-life, first impressions matter about story characters. How the reader perceives your characters depends on your intentional choices on what to reveal or withhold about them at the point of their entry into the story. 

Beginning from this key, we will explore 5 ways you can employ to effectively introduce a character. 

Character Entrance 1: Description

A straightforward Description is the most logical way to introduce a character. It is logical because your reader does not know the new guy you call John. And since books are not videos, you may need to tell/show your reader at the point of John’s entrance that, unlike most humans, John has 8 limbs. Description goes beyond the name to show the reader a bit of your characters’ appearance or what it seems like. In our example of John, you may not say it, but your reader already knows that John is likely not human despite having a human name.

HOWEVER! HOWEVER!!

The amount of Description you do at a character’s point of entry into the story should depend on what you hope to achieve. For example, if your interest is to inspire curiosity about John, you can end the Description at the point you mentioned 8 limbs. The incomplete information will leave your reader wondering what kind of animal John must be. 

If you’re particularly a mischievous writer, you can tell your reader when next they meet John in the story that he is an accident patient who, for some weird reason, uses two pairs of crutches. And John is human again.

Book Example

You will find a good application of Character Entrance by Description in Dan Brown’s introduction of Rachel Sexton in his novel, Deception Point

The woman was attractive, in her mid-thirties, wearing gray, pleated flannel pants, conservative flats, and an ivory Laura Ashley blouse. Her posture was straight—chin raised ever so slightly—not arrogant, just strong. The woman’s hair was light brown and fashioned in Washington’s most popular style—the “anchorwoman”—a lush feathering, curled under at the shoulders… long enough to be sexy, but short enough to remind you she was probably smarter than you.

Note that while Description may be a logical way to introduce a character, it does not necessarily make it the best. The best way to introduce a character depends on how you want to present the character to your reader. Keep a date with us next Monday for the creative writing key on Character Entrance 2.