Last Saturday night at a banquet for DH’s work, I was told that I was intimidating to approach. I snorted water out my nose, slapped the table in front of me (with my head) and laughed until I couldn’t breathe.
Me, intimidating? In whose world?
Granted the young lady who said that is so teeny I could fold her up and put her in my back pocket. So, in the physical sense that might be the case. Yet her reasoning was, “You just have it all together.”
Repeat the first paragraph and add choking to the list of reactions. In case you’re new to my blog, I am a hot mess. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you are well aware that I am an entire-stick-of-butter-on-a-hot-frying-pan mess.
Petite&Adorable continued, “But once I met you, you’re the sweetest person ever.”
This entire conversation got me thinking about characters and how we introduce them in our writing. My MC’s come to me with attitude. Sometimes I like them. Sometimes I don’t. I would equate this to the initial perception that P&A had of me. First impressions are vital to character/reader connections. It’s the reason readers turn pages.
If I don’t like the character, I quit reading on page one and don’t buy the book. However, if said MC has a quality I like, I will continue reading as enthusiastically as our Geriatric Lab chases after pheasant scent.
In writing, our characters must be multi-dimensional. They need to have layers of personality that overlap and sometimes contradict, but always make sense. If they don’t, they will feel false and be unreadable. Yet we can’t put all this into the first page.
We can’t act as the go between and say, “Hey, have you met Miss MC? Even though she’s beautiful, smart and funny, she is insecure about herself. She likes dogs, hangs out with her friends and eats anchovies on her pizza. In the summer she water skis and swims in the lake, but won’t sit around the bonfire because she’s allergic to mosiquitoes to the point where she gets physically sick and swells up like a water balloon. Did I mention she’s the sweetest girl ever? You would love her. Oh yeah, and she has a really great story, so I hope you stick around.”
The question becomes: how do we introduce our characters to our readers?
And for more opinions on the subject at hand: how do you introduce your characters? What traits ensnare you and entice you to keep turning pages? What are introductory no-no’s that keep MC’s aloof, unapproachable and unreadable?