I read this great article by Jeff Haden entitled “The Best Way to Introduce Yourself” http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/a-great-way-to-introduce-yourself.html?nav=pop. This article had me thinking about introductions, not only verbally but written as well. The point of the article is when meeting someone the most important audience member is not the person you’re introducing yourself too, it’s you.
What was interesting about this article is that it’s the not He-man brute introduction that is important such as laying out one’s title, accomplishments and history (although I know a few, where that habit would be hard to break). It’s more about knowing your audience and fitting into that space. He goes on to give a few examples: See less as more, Stay in context, Embrace understatement and Focus on the other person.
I certainly could see the points being made from a business point of view but I also made that connection with writing. Below is my take on the article and it’s relation to writing fiction.
See less as more: Have brief introductions of characters first. Give the bare minimum for the reader and other characters in the story. Allow for backgrounds and other personality quirks to come out unforced and naturally in the story.
Stay in context: This boils down to keeping character introduction aligned with setting and the action of the story. If you are at Grandma’s birthday party, you wouldn’t want a new character coming in and hijacking the scenery of the party because he won a bowling tournament that has nothing to do with the story at hand and adds nothing in moving the story forward.
Embrace understatement: In quoting Jeff Haden “To err is human. To err humble is divine”. I thought this quite powerful for character statements. If your character is bold and obnoxious by all means embracing the understatement isn’t in that character’s DNA, but it gives food for thought of really viewing your character’s attributes.
Focus on the other person: When writing two or more characters, it’s always good to find those connections where they have a common goal, trait, compatibility or flaw. Unless you’re writing in first person where the struggles are all internal, it’s a good idea to have characters focus, reach and stretch with other character involvement. When done well, it moves a story forward more is more fascinating to read.
Any other examples you feel fit here as well?
Comment/Share/Discuss I look forward to hearing from you.
- “Show, Don’t Tell” (thewearywriter.com)
- Megadungeon: Character Death (dmg42.blogspot.com)
- Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for Writing a Short Story (cristianmihai.net)