Now that you know all about your character’s ghost, the lie, desire and the wound, let’s discuss the moment your character first takes the stage.
This must be a WOW! Factor
When the curtain rises on her for the first time, will your audience be in awe or will they get up and walk out?
This is your chance to engage your readers and hook them with a well-written first impression – you don’t get any second chances at this. Sound important? It is. The introduction of your protagonist usually coincides with your hook, so get this wrong and you’ll be the only one left holding your book. Next to the cover itself, this is the most vital part of getting and keeping your audience.
This is the beginning of your character’s arc and first impressions are critical. The first time we see your character she should be doing something that exemplifies her and endears her to us immediately.
You must make her appealing to the audience by introducing both her strengths and weaknesses. As I noted in another post, you should always try to show the good side of her before any bad traits. If you reveal bad ones first, you risk losing your readers due to lack of empathy for your protagonist.
We also need to show what is lacking in her life. What is the issue caused by The Lie? If your character “believes” they are ugly because their mother constantly told them so, then perhaps they are afraid of going for that job promotion or have become agoraphobic, afraid to face other people. It’s a careful balance between showing what’s good about a character while balancing it with The Lie.
If your character arc is all about a character dealing with feelings of abandonment, it isn’t likely she will start as the life of the party. Unless she is overcompensating for her feelings of inferiority.
Her introduction must reflect the beginning of her arc
What scene can you craft to highlight the good in your protagonist? Make her interesting, not perfect. If your character is loyal, show her standing up for someone at work who is always being pushed around, while showing her own insecurities.
Ideally, you’ll be able to work in The Lie in the Introductory Moment, but this isn’t always possible. Make sure you have all other things I mentioned in the scene. But, you must introduce The Lie as soon as possible – it’s vital to your character arc.
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