Friday, August 24, 2012

The Art of the Introduction


I'm about 10K into the latest WIP, which means I'm still plotting and meeting the new characters. This story carries over from the one before it so many of the characters are the same. I know them. They have a history. We've settled in together.

But I so love meeting the new ones, both human and animal. The latest two to arrive are older gentleman, each serving a different purpose. They're opposites in nature but each fun in his own way. One is a cranky old guy who appears to enjoy making peoples' lives as miserable as his own. Remember that old guy in the neighborhood who would yell "Get off my lawn!"? That's Old Man Fisher.

And then there's Artie. A retired lawyer settled into his golden years with his faithful companion Rufus the Basset Hound. Artie strolls Anchor Island looking harmless, dropping tidbits of wisdom when you least expect them. A brilliant mind with a kind heart. And Rufus is always there, moving slow and looking depressed.

Though he might grow a tad more animated when he meets Drillbit the kitten.

None of these characters have appeared on the page yet. I need to flesh them out a little more. Make sure I give them the best introduction to the reader. I want my readers to fall in love with every character on the island so that first impression is important.

This makes me think of great introductions either in books or movies. When Rhett Butler pops up from the settee. When Edward Cullen strolls into the cafeteria. When the Wicked Witch rides in on her bicycle.

Who are your favorite characters from books or movies? Do you remember the first time they appeared on page or screen? Did you like them immediately of did they have to grow on you? And what is it about that character that makes them stick with you?

24 comments:

Maureen said...

So many of my fav TV characters are secondaries. Abby from NCIS, Cho from The Mentalist, Sam from Burn Notice... I find the complications that secondary characters bring to a story are more upfront. Less buried. Makes 'em, I don't know...funner to play with? They are usually the observers and so they play our part in the drama, since we observe also.

The aunts in Practical Magic...so many I can think of...

Looking forward to meeting Rufus!

TerriOsburn said...

I was talking specifics, Mo. Do you remember the first time you saw any of those characters? Is there something other than that you can relate to the story through them? A quirk that's all their own?

Marnee Bailey said...

Favorite secondary characters huh? Well, pretty much everyone in the Harry Potter series. (I think I beat Fran to this one.)

I also love the fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty. So cute. In fact, I sometimes feel like the older Disney movies had better secondary characters than the perfect heroes and heroines. More interesting anyway. I mean, the sisters in Cinderella? Awesome.

I don't think that holds in recent ones though. I adored both Rapunzel and Flynn in Tangled. Love.

TerriOsburn said...

*reads paragraph in bold*

Clearly I worded that wrong. I didn't mean to lock it into secondary characters. And I want to know the first time you encountered that character. The moment of introduction.

That moment of "Aaaahhhh, I'm going to like this one."

Marnee Bailey said...

OH! Okay, lemme rethink....

:)

Janga said...

One of my favorite characters is Garrett Langham, Earl of Mayne. He's the only character who has ever inspired me to write both an essay and a sonnet. LOL

I remember when he appeared on the page indirectly and directly. He is first mentioned by Helene in Your Wicked Ways. She says, "Half the women in London would like to bed him."

And Infamous Esme replies, "And the other half already have" and goes on to make clear that she is in that half. A few pages later Mayne appears at a ball where Helene is making her post-transformation debut. Gentlemen are crowding around her, and Mayne brushes them aside as if they are nonexistent and claims the dance. Helene didn't fall in love, but I did. Mayne remains one of my all-time favorite secondary characters and heroes.

Helene's own introduction is quite memorable as well. In A Wild Pursuit, the novel just before TWW, the scandalous Lady Beatrix Lennox is rather scornful of the proper Countess Godwin and mischievously introduces Helene's unfaithful husband and his mistress into the conversation. When Helene responds by comparing her husband's mistress to a bed warmer, Bea understands that the countess can be as deliciously improper as Bea herself. I read Eloisa James as much for the way she portrays relationships among women as I do for the romance.

AJ said...

It's more of a reintroduction, but that moment in the second LOTR movie when Aragorn pushes through the giant hall doors at Deepwood Motte after you think he's been killed, all filthy and supremely pissed off, is just a "Mmmm, meoooow" moment for me. :)

I always thought that George Emerson was introduced beautifully in A Room With a View. He seems like an ordinarily pleasant young man at dinner, but then strides silently back into Lucy's room after he's moved his things out in order to flip over the framed print with the giant question mark scribbled on its back. Clearly this young man is more intriguing than he seems...

Also, the lunch scene during The Breakfast Club. Everyone's character has already been introduced and this scene just crystallizes it. Claire with her bento box of sushi, the jock with his massive lunch, Bender with nothing, Allison with her samshed sandwich of Cap'n Crunch topped with Pixie Stix sugar on white bread.

Hmmm, I usually just lurk. Clearly liked thinking about this one! Thanks. :)

TerriOsburn said...

Janga - I came *this* close to mentioning Mayne. That man inspired a movement! Even wearing a dress he was sexy. ;) Eloisa is in a class by herself.

AJ - Hello! Thanks for delurking for this one. Aragorn looked sexy no matter how dirty he got. There's just something about Viggo. And I thought of the Breakfast Club too. Showed that one to my pre-teen not long ago and she loved it. Started quoting lines from it instantly.

Marnee Bailey said...

In Sixteen Candles. I feel like Jake's intro is pretty memorable. I crushed that guy hard as a girl. Then he was never in another movie. So sad.

Oh! Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That's an intro. "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."

Maureen said...

I wish I could remember when secondary characters introduced themselves... I really did read the question, I just can't remember!

TerriOsburn said...

Marn - When I think of Sixteen Candles intros, I think of Anthony Michael Hall's character or Long Duck Dong. I even hear the gong when I type his name.

TerriOsburn said...

BTW, to this day I've never seen Roger Rabbit. Though I know that line, of course.

Mo - If you didn't speed read you'd remember. ;)

Maureen said...

If I didn't speed read, I'd never get anything done! And the TV shows, well, I was late to the ones I cited, so I can't remember when they were first introduced. I've seen them all so out of order...

Sigh. Not my day to sound intelligent.

I need a day for me to sound like I know what I'm doing. Just one day a month... the official Maureen is Smart Day!

TerriOsburn said...

Don't be silly. This has nothing to do with smarts. Just requires functioning brain cells, of which I have few. Gave myself a headache on the way to work today trying to remember if I put on deodorant. It's there so I did but I still have no memory of putting it on. *sigh*

MsHellion said...

I'm laughing at your examples because I'm pretty sure you're speaking from movie experience rather than reading experience. *LOL*

I think my favorite introduction to a character was in Bridget Jones' Diary (which I've done both, but I'm particularly referring to the movie version because Colin Firth is so perfect.) When she sees Mark Darcy for the first time and he's wearing a Rudolph sweater. And he's so contemptuous about it. You're embarrassed for both of them, but you sorta want to smack him upside the head too.

Or the moment in AUSTRALIA when Nicole Kidman's character meets Hugh Jackman's for the first time--and he's in the middle of a brawl, and they wreck her luggage, spilling her frilly underwear in the street. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

I didn't read the comments before answering, but I swear to you, I nearly mentioned Harry Potter and his friends--Ron and Hermione and Hagrid; and I was THIS close to mentioning Mayne as most memorable character ever.

But since your bolded area said memorable first meeting, I went with what I went with because I couldn't really remember how I met Mayne, only that those blazing eyes of his and confident manner was always there and I always wanted him. Even if he was fictional.

TerriOsburn said...

I've read The Wizard of Oz. :) LOL!

I LOVE Australia. Or in Moulin Rouge when Nicole's character comes in on a trapeze. THAT'S an entrance.

Maureen said...

I have a very broad memory...it's particulars that don't stick for me anymore! I'm always amazed at how most of you can really recall specific moments in a book/movie/series.

Did I put on deodorant today? Hmmmmm...

TerriOsburn said...

No worries. I couldn't remember Mayne's entrance either. I should have just emailed Janga while I was writing this yesterday. I think Garwood does entrances well. Maybe? And then there's the funeral scene at the start of SEP's It Had To Be You.

Maureen said...

Janga is the encyclopedia of romance knowledge. I kiss her ring.

Janga said...

You are all too kind. Given the breadth--and depth--of the genre, I doubt that anyone's knowledge of it is encyclopedic. My knowledge is pretty much restricted to historical and contemporary romances written in the 20th and 21st centuries, and it's uneven within that frame. But the facts about Mayne were etched in my memory when I went through the first four books he's in for that essay I wrote arguing that the clues logically led to Mayne and Josie ending up together. My knowledge of Mayne may qualify as encyclopedic. :) And I don't even have a copy of the essay since my old computer died and the EJ/JQ bb disappeared.

Maureen said...

I was chatting with Mr. Clutter about books on Wednesday...as I was culling them. And finding old class papers from a decade ago...and class lessons and notes from therapy and notes from my time with a life coach and I thought...as I was tossing away a bunch of floppy discs and other old fashioned ways of data storage...

Where was I?

Oh, yeah...how the way we keep and store and retrieve data is changing so much. Soon, everything will be on the cloud and we can access it forever...

Until an electro magnetic pulse wipes it all out and we start all over.

I do hate when I can't find stuff I wrote and want to retrieve.

I saved those papers...

And I mourn the loss of your essay, Janga.

P. Kirby said...

In movies, I think for great entrances, you can't beat ya'll's fave, Captain Jack in the first Pirates movie. All proud and haughty...on his rapidly sinking ship.

I also like the way Riddick introduces himself in Pitch Black, with a narration that makes no secret that he is a total bad *ss. "They say most of your brain shuts down in cryo-sleep. All but the primitive side, the animal side. No wonder I'm still awake."

Janet Evanovich introduces characters vividly, but her intros for Grandma Mazur are always awesome. In the first book, Grandma admires Stephanie's biking shorts and wonders it they'd look good on her, she of the bony knees.

One of my favorite intros is also my fave book opening: "The changeling's decision to steal a dragon and escape was born, though she did not know it then, the night the children met to plot the death of their supervisor." It's from Iron Dragon's Daughter, a miserable book that I adore but really can't recommend. But that opening totally gets my attention and says so much about Jane.

Maureen said...

Gotta agree with you on that one, Pat. Cap'n Jack is nothing if not self-assured.

And that is a great line!