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Haleth's avatar

How do you introduce a character?

Asked by Haleth (19513points) April 29th, 2010

Specifically, what’s a good way for characters to meet each other for the first time? I’m looking for something more creative than you all meet at an inn; other than that, anything goes.

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26 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Well, for example you could start with a situation involving unrelated characters, like some thugs trying to mug a small kid and then the main character comes from nowhere and does something cool. The other main characters could be introduced one by one in subsequent episodes/after some time passes.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Is this for a novel, movie or tv show, because my answer will change drastically for each. Also, what is the mood? Is it drama, comedy, sci-fi? Because that will also change my response.

Haleth's avatar

@rpmpseudonym I’m writing dramatic short story set in the present. I’m just having trouble brainstorming… so even if you have ideas that don’t seem like they’d fit in with that, I’d love to hear them. :)

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Short story means we have to make the meeting quick, no sense draggin’ it on for pages when we got meaty plot points to hit on. One last question, how old are the people who are meeting & how many are there? Sorry if I am forcing you to basically tell me the story now, but that also changes my answer.. A group of teens riding on an escalator & having the thing breakdown, they would not continue walking up the escalator as if they were manual steps, I see them standing there, complaining the whole time, which is how they come to know each other, a mutual dislike for ‘broken stairs’. Adults would simply continue walking upward.

ragingloli's avatar

If it is a short story then I really do not see any other option but letting them meet all at once or in rapid succession with a unifying intention or coincidence, which basically is your “you all meet at an inn” scenario.

eden2eve's avatar

A robbery takes place in a bank, and all the characters are locked in the safe.

eden2eve's avatar

People on a bus that breaks down in the middle of the desert.

gorillapaws's avatar

The main character is walking by and hears an intriguing melody being played, one that he knows from long ago but can’t seem to place. He enters the bar to investigate when he discovers a curious man playing the song on the piano….

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@eden2eve, how about a slight twist on that… They all meet in the same bank, because all of them planned to rob the same bank on the same day at the same time? Now they have this bunch of cash they ALL stole & now need to figure out how to divide it up? I see lots of stuff to write about with that. In fact, I’m gonna take that idea. :) Thanks @eden2eve for the idea jump starter.

gorillapaws's avatar

Jim was in the back of a cab on his way to the train station waiting at a red light. Suddenly a breathless young woman opens the car door and commands the cabby to “drive! ...now! GO!”

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

I didn’t see it, but my mother told me backup plan started with two people hailing the same cab… I’d avoid any variation on that scenario, to avoid similarities with that movie. :) By the way, yes, I do ask people how movies begin, especially on how people meet. Odd, I know.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@Haleth It would help if you could provide a little bit of the specifics. How much do you already have planned in your head? Because we can seriously give you infinite amount of ‘meeting’ scenarios & us not knowing what you already have planned out, could really mess with how your story goes.

gorillapaws's avatar

There were subtle cues that Greg wasn’t the man his profile described him as being. Most dentists Sara knew were particularly well groomed and neat, and his rough-cut fingernails betrayed him. She was beginning to regret not taking her car and letting him pick her up when she noticed what looked like a tiny speck of blood on his ear…

Haleth's avatar

@rpmpseudonym No problem. So this is for a creative writing class, which means I’m making an (ugh) homework question basically I have two adult characters, I’m not sure of their ages. My protagonist is a young man who travels to a new city to look for his missing father. He meets a stranger (I’m not sure if this person will be male or female yet) who helps him along the way. I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out- whether the guy actually finds his dad- but I want him to start out with very little to go on. I just need a way for the characters to meet and start talking.

I kept it vague on purpose because I don’t want my plotline to narrow down the answers just yet. Maybe something totally crazy and unexpected will take the story in a cool new direction. I like your escalator idea. Stopping and complaining does sound like something a group of teenagers would do, but some adults would probably do that too (like the cast of Seinfeld.) I’m not saying I want my characters to be like that, but it’s not something I would have thought of on my own.

@gorillapaws Thanks, good ideas!

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Sorry again, but what kind of ‘missing’ are we talking about? Like his dad was declared missing by his neighbors/police? Or his father left the family years ago & the son is going to look for him? Either way, try to figure out a way for the person that your guy (the son) meets along the way, man or woman, to be someone who is needed to get further into the search for his dad. So if the dad is literally, missing, declared so by the police, have the person be a clerk at a police station or something. Maybe he/she will be the only one who cares enough to sneak around the station to utilize the tools at their disposal, which the officers don’t use because they don’t care about his dad as much as he/she does. Make the person that the son stumbles into, important, otherwise it’s just another character being dragged along for the sake of having a B-story (secondary, not that important). If you do write back with a little bit more detail, I’ll continue to think of ways for them to meet. If you think I have given you enough, just say so. Either way, my head will continue to come up with ideas. It’s what i do.

Jeruba's avatar

Waiting at a bus stop.
Standing in line.
Being at neighboring tables in a restaurant.
Answering an ad.
Renting a room or an apartment.
Sitting in a waiting room or a hotel lobby.
Buying and selling something.
Returning a lost item.
Asking for directions.

gorillapaws's avatar

What about discovering something of his father’s at a second-hand store? Either the store owner is the character, or the person who sold it to the shopkeeper is this new character.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

ooh yeah, what @gorillapaws said, I like that. “person who sold it to the shopkeeper is this new character” Like I said, make the new person important, but not too important, we need the new person to move the story along, but not take charge & lead the way. Focus should always be on protagonist.

gorillapaws's avatar

He could stumble across an autistic kid who keeps repeating a phrase that was something unique that only his father would say. He has to somehow figure out how this child knew his father.

gorillapaws's avatar

lol, I haven’t done this in a LONG time and I kinda miss it.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@gorillapaws May I ask how this applied to you ‘LONG’ ago?

gorillapaws's avatar

@rpmpseudonym I went to college as an english major to be an aspiring author (mostly poetry). I ended up switching majors to philosophy (partly because it was so damn hard to get into the creative writing classes now that I think about it). It’s been like 7 years or so since I’ve tried to write.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@gorillapaws Well you certainly haven’t lost those creative juices… they’re still flowing.

jazmina88's avatar

in an elevator – broken of course

friends apt.

convention

<3 gorilla paws

Jeruba's avatar

Which sort of solution you choose will depend at least in part on how much disbelief you expect the reader to suspend.

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