The next chapter in Self Editing for Fiction Writers is Characterization and Expostion. It's quite a long chapter, so I'll try to sum it up as best I can.
Characterization is simply introducing your characters. Exposition is how you go about doing that. Many writers feel as though they have to give the reader a clear picture of each new character who is introduced. They never bring in a new character without a brief personality summary, or they introduce their characters with flashbacks to the childhood scenes that make them who they are now.
Some information is needed, of course. This is where Show, Don't Tell comes in. Character development needs to flow through the story. Just like you get to know a new friend, your reader should experience getting to know your characters through their dialog and action.
One way you can give an important piece of information about a new character is to have another character think or say something about him. For example: instead of writing, "Bob was not the sort of person others liked right away," you can write, "Like most people, I disliked Bob on first sight." See the difference?
You can develop your characters through dialogue and beats (pieces of action that go along with dialogue.) That's something we'll talk about later, but think about it. Body language is a big factor in getting to know a person. How they speak, their tone of voice and facial expressions can tell you a lot about them. If you want your readers to get a feel for who your characters really are, show them to us through dialogue and action.
Okay - give us a paragraph where you introduce a new character. Don't edit it. Give it to us the way you have it and we'll examine how you did it and see if it needs any changes.
Don't Plant Trees!
4 years ago