Introducing Characters For The First Time

Magic_Muscle

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As the title suggests, I'd love to hear from my fellow writers methods they are used to introduce characters, such as a protagonist, as well as the principles behind such choice approaches.

I myself seem to never actually directly name my Protagonist or main character in the opening paragraph. I conclude this stems from my preference to make such details appear incidental, such as someone calling their name or perhaps reading something that included their name. The same goes for physical descriptions for me. I keep it sparse and incidentally linked to physical actions. Like expressing how large a character is by an early event such as banging their head on an overhang that someone shorter wouldn't. Or a display of strength that could establish their physical prowess for future actions.
 

Wayne Mack

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It partially depends upon whether the story is in first person or third person. For third person, I usually start almost every chapter or scene with the name of the point of view character. For first person, I will quickly follow with a line of dialog to provide a title, first name, or last name and then fill in the rest later in the dialog (this often works best if there are multiple speakers). I do not provide physical descriptions of the main characters with a gender implied by name choice and use of pronoun (I figure if Tom Cruise can play Jack Reacher, then the physical description cannot be too important). I avoid the use of a character looking at his or her reflection and describing him- or herself.

I usually introduce characters just a few at a time to keep the reader from going into name overload. I avoid starting with a group meeting in a bar, a briefing, or something similar as I find this often just leads to info dumping about the backstory.
 

AnyaKimlin

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I think it depends on what you like to read. I fit the name in as soon as a natural opportunity presents itself. That can be later in first or second than in third. In third it tends to come in the first paragraph as I see no point in

I describe them in a variety of ways - often it's through dialogue from other characters or reactions to that dialogue.
 

alexvss

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I noticed that I've been writing the name of the main character in the opening sentence of all my recent stories. It just comes naturally to me. I think I often do that because I avoid starting the story by describing the scenario.

One thing I always look out for is the first thing that every character says. First impressions matter. A lot. And it's also a promise to the reader; what the protagonist says will repercut through the rest of the story. For instance, if the character's want is to kill bill, the first thing she'll say is, "I'm going to kill Bill!".

Chuck Palahniuk advises authors to put two characters in the same scene as early as possible, preferably in the first or second paragraph. This will create immediate conflict. I never actually followed that advice myself, but it's always good to have options up my sleeve.
 

Flaviosky

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For me, I try to allign the reader with the characters. If the character's name hasn't been disclosed, it is not mentioned. For physical descriptions, I guess I'm less original than you, but still linking the description with an action, for example, mention that "her long orange hair disturbs her as she runs through the palace", or "her light brown cat ears roll back as sign of discomfort". I feel that's more organic
 
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As the title suggests, I'd love to hear from my fellow writers methods they are used to introduce characters, such as a protagonist, as well as the principles behind such choice approaches.

I myself seem to never actually directly name my Protagonist or main character in the opening paragraph. I conclude this stems from my preference to make such details appear incidental, such as someone calling their name or perhaps reading something that included their name. The same goes for physical descriptions for me. I keep it sparse and incidentally linked to physical actions. Like expressing how large a character is by an early event such as banging their head on an overhang that someone shorter wouldn't. Or a display of strength that could establish their physical prowess for future actions.
I also try to introduce my characters through incidental things, on the story I'm working on now I don't put the name in right away when introducing main characters and as for appearances, I do describe it but slowly, like "He ran his hands through his long black hair" or something, the description about the character's height and having them bump their head on something that a sorter person wouldn't is actually a very creative way to show characters physical appearance, it's not outright saying what they look like but more showing the reader through a relatable situation.
But to be honest, it really just depends on the story, writer, and preference, some stories require straight-up information on the main character while other stories work on keeping it hidden until discovered by the reader themselves.
Hope this helps and good luck with your story!
 

Steve Harrison

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I write mostly from multiple POVs, so I title each chapter from the start with the POV character's name, figuring it's easier for readers to have a name upfront and I don't want them distracted by wondering who is 'speaking.' This is probably because it reflects my taste as a reader; I want to know the character's name asap, even if I know nothing about them.

This has carried through to my latest novel, a rare foray into the first person POV world, in which the first line is, 'My name is...'
 

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