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Enter stage left - Introducing new characters

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 24, 2018

Last week, we looked at killing off characters. So it seems only fitting to follow it up by talking about introducing new characters into your story! This is your quick cheat sheet to helping ease your readers into getting to know the new players in your world.

Try to introduce new characters one at time. Failing that, if you need to add more than one, don’t let them compete with each other for the spotlight at once. Have one stand out more than the other for a time to allow the reader to get to know them before moving on to the next this way they are less likely to get confused and thus not care.

At first, highlight their differences. Maybe they don’t make the best first impression or they could take time to really ingratiate themselves with the group. They might even slip easily in but soon the others begin to notice how they are different, but still add value to their lives and stories. This helps differentiate them from the rest of the group and keep them interesting as the readers get to know them.

Consider how they speak. Everyone has their own unique mannerisms and method of speaking. This can be a great way to endear a character to a reader and make them memorable.

Have them doing something when they make their entrance. Exposition dumps aren’t as fashionable as they might have been at one time or another. Instead show, don’t tell, them character. It will offer more insight into who they are whilst giving you time to explore who they are.

Ensure that the character actually has a place in the story. Extraneous characters are just a narrative drag so try to avoid having a new character for the sake of keeping the story fresh. It might be that the story just needs a shake up or maybe a beach episode. The new character has to have an impact for them to memorable, so keep that in mind before you go ahead and introduce them to the world.

How did you introduce a new character to your story? Did it go over well? Let us know in the comments below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST) where we’ll be talking about this topic!



agentny003 at 3:42PM, Aug. 24, 2018

As for the new villains of the second part of my series, I made them more like secretive. One of them, the only female is a yandere who's obsessed with the youngest sisters' boyfriend. I also added the student council who are also new to the story, but only part 2. So far it's going well for only one of them since the others haven't been put on a major scene yet (coming soon). Also for every new series, I always introduce new characters to series, some I come up with, some from probably family members ;), but overall I do it so the fans of the series can get to know them. Hope I answered the questions.

PaulEberhardt at 10:20AM, Aug. 24, 2018

It seems to be similar with me. Last time I introduced a really major recurring character (Sophie) I gave her an incidental role that was however essential for the gag. I had a vague idea on the kind of role she'd take once she'd be in the cast, but I hadn't really decided on whether to include her and how. An entire year went by, and I needed her for the follow-up of the previous gag. After that she kind of stayed in, appearing more and more often, and I more or less pretended she had always been around.

KimLuster at 7:08AM, Aug. 24, 2018

Good article! Sometimes it's a delight to see when a new character you've introduced for a relatively minor role starts taking on a larger role... and you as the writer never saw that coming!! Colonel Hauser from the Godstrain was one such character!

bravo1102 at 6:41AM, Aug. 24, 2018

In an ongoing narrative I try to foreshadow new characters but sometimes people just show up. 😉

usedbooks at 4:16AM, Aug. 24, 2018

I have a weird way I like to introduce characters. I used to grab previous background characters from crowd scenes and give them roles. But since I write pretty far in advance, I often draw deliberate "cameos" a few chapters before their true introduction. Or I have other characters talk about that person well before they appear.

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