Categories Writing articles
Writing character description: introducing a character by name
This is a pretty good way of writing character description, or more specifically introducing a character by name.
I call it ‘introducing a character by incorporating it into an action which he or she is performing.’
I’m planning to use it in my American civil war novel, which is partly set in the former Confederate commonwealth/state of Virginia.
A woman, an amateur artist, is painting her Southern plantation home, and I want to give her a name.
It would be pretty easy to introduce her name into the story like this: ‘Susan Jones put the paint brush down and looked at the picture of her home that she had just painted.’
Easy, but predictable, and boring.
It might, just might be that if your system of introducing a character by name is boring, someone – a reader or literary agent, might decide that the rest of your novel is boring, and decide not to read it.
I’ve tried something different, instead.
I’ve written something like this: ‘She put the paint brush down and glanced at the previous attempt that she had made at painting her home, and had signed with her name, Susan Jones.’
Does this system only work with a female plantation owner who is painting a picture of her home during the American civil war?
Phew, let’s hope not!
How about this?
‘She signed the letter with her name, Susan Jones.’
Does it only work with a female plantation owner who is either painting a picture of her home or who is signing one of her letters during the American civil war?
Not at all.
Take a look at this, it’s a completely different gender, setting, and period.
‘He went to the check in desk and looked at the clerk.
“I’m Tom Garrard, I have a reservation for room 106″ he introduced himself.’