by Renea Guenther @ReneaGuenther
The speed at which we introduce our characters can be crucial to whether readers will remember them or not.
If we introduce too many too fast, they might not remember their names, or that they had even been mentioned.
Introducing our characters at intervals helps readers remember their defining details and the character’s importance to the story.
Introduce Main Characters as Soon as Possible
Main characters should be introduced as soon as they become the focus of the story.
In the case of the protagonist, this is usually within the first few paragraphs of the opening scene.
If you’re writing multiple POVs, be sure not to wait too long to introduce the other characters.
All POVs need to be introduced within the first few chapters so as not to jar the reader by switching characters after most of the book has told by only one.
Introduce Secondary Characters One at a Time
Characters can be introduced at any place in the book, although those expected to play a significant role in the story should show up earlier in the book to familiarize the reader with them beforehand.
No matter how important the character, they should not be introduced until their actions affect the plot and the main characters to keep the story on point without adding unnecessary information.
Characters not showing up until later, such as the antagonist, should be shown indirectly through the effects their actions have on the characters or in discussion to keep them in the reader’s mind until they make an entrance.
Place More Emphasis on the Introduction of Important Characters
Characters who play a large part in the story should be given more attention to help the reader remember them the next time they appear.
They should be introduced one at a time, and their presence should matter no matter their location in the scene or how it plays out.
Those that won’t ever show up again need only a brief description and any character that has no purpose should be eliminated.
You don’t have to name everybody.
Some people can simply be background characters without a name such as soldiers, customers, or people on the street.
But be sure to not give away the character’s importance by how much emphasis you place on them.
Only use as many characters as you need to get the point of the story across as too many can distract the reader.
When introducing a character, don’t tell everything about them at once.
Let the reader learn about them in pieces as they appear throughout the story to keep from overwhelming them.
Sometimes less really is more.
How much emphasis do you place on the introduction of your characters?