You get one shot at introducing a character, so make it count.

One of my favorite examples of a great entrance is this scene from Pirates of the Caribbean.  Watch It Here.  We learn everything we need to know about Captain Jack Sparrow from the way he sails into the harbor.  So perfect, right?!

So, now let’s talk about your writing.  In the early stages of planning a story, you might spend some time “designing” 308838_10151161478769821_307825005_n-1your character: giving him or her a wardrobe, a manner of speaking, a cool backstory that sets up his/her motivation, etc.

And then, on the first draft of your story, you’ll get to the point where this character makes his/her first appearance. You might just plop this character into a scene, and have him or her say a couple of lines. Or have the narrator describe some details about that character. (Clothing, posture, haircut, manner of speaking, etc.) That can work, but you might be missing out on a chance to have some fun.  In addition to those details about how the character looks/smells/sounds, why not have this character TOTALLY DOMINATE the scene when he/she first appears? Give him/her a memorable entrance, something your other characters– and the person reading the book– have never seen before!

For instance, say we’re meeting a character for the first time: a guy named Douglas, who’s stinky. Like, SUPER-stinky… maybe he fell into the vat in his cheese-making class, or he’s starting to mutate into were-skunk. Whatever–the point is: he smells bad.

Now we’ve got a chance to _demonstrate_ just how bad he smells… It would be fine to have the narrator point out that there was a strong stench in the room, or a green cloud hovering around Douglas. But maybe we can push it a little more: before we see Douglas for the first time, our narrator has to squeeze through a crowd of people holding their noses and gagging while they stampede out of the auditorium where Douglas had been getting ready for his big presentation. (etc., etc.)

Now we’ve built up this poor schmuck’s unearthly stench before we even meet him; he’s cleared out an entire theater with his noxiousness. And our narrator must have something _really_ important to tell Douglas/give to Douglas/get from Douglas if she’s willing to set foot in this room, let alone get up close to him.

Prompt #4: Write an {{ENTRANCE!}} for one of your characters. (Or for a fake character you make up on the spot for this exercise — maybe a villain! Villains are great.) Don’t just describe what they look like and what they’re wearing, but let the very action they take as they enter the scene define them as a character. (And for 15 extra-credit points: make it something none of us have ever seen before!)


blogger bio iconA Bit About Troy

Troy Cummings has been drawing since he was a little kid. His illustrations have appeared in newspapers and magazines, on web sites, on frozen-fish-stick packages, in hospital waiting rooms on puzzles, place-mats, backpacks and balls.  When he’s not drawing he’s writing.  Here are a few of his recent titles:   GIDDY-UP DADDY! (Random House), THE WEENSY SPIDER FREAKS OUT (Random House), MORE BEARS (Sourcebooks) and the The Notebook of DOOM series (Scholastic). 

To learn more about Troy, his cat and family in Indiana click here.

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