Writing Character Introductions (Featuring Project Quest)

There’s a lot of things I have a hard time with in writing (see: everything having to do with writing), but starting often poses a big challenge. I always put a lot of pressure on myself to create a memorable first impression, whether it’s the beginning of a scene, the first lines of a book, or introducing a brand-new character to the story.

The moment you introduce your main character(s) to your reader can make or break your story. No pressure, right?

I don’t have any advice to share today, but I was thinking about some of the character introductions I’ve written, why I chose to introduce them that way, and I thought it would be fun to share some from one of my works in progress, Project Quest. Bear in mind that these are still drafts, so it’s probably not my best work… but hey, we all have to start somewhere.

(Also, if this is your first time hearing about Project Quest, visit its page on my blog to learn more!)

Adrien

The first character I introduce in Project Quest is Adrien. While there are three main characters, I plan to have the first book focus mostly on Adrien’s growth, so it felt fitting to introduce him first. This also meant twice as much pressure – I had to write a good story introduction and a good character introduction.

Adrien knew that if Elisabeth found out he was in the courtyard at the crack of dawn, she would have his head. It didn’t matter if he was the crown prince, heir to the throne, future king. No one disobeyed Elisabeth’s instructions and expected to get away with it.

Adrien, the first character introduced in Project Quest.

Artwork commissioned from artist Viria.

One thing I really wanted to establish early on was how Adrien is seen by those around him – and, to some extent, how he sees himself. Despite being considered an adult in his culture (though he’s still a teen, so take that as you will), a lot of people still view him as a child. I built on this later in the scene:

[Elisabeth] whirled on Adrien. “What in Casert’s name are you doing out here? I told you that you were to stick to your lessons today, no exceptions! You are expected to make an appearance at the dinner tonight, and I cannot have you showing up looking or smelling like a street rat!”

Adrien hung his head, feeling less like a prince and more like a scolded child. “I’m sorry ma’am. It won’t happen again.”

The good news is, Adrien does get the opportunity to prove himself later on. As for how well that goes… well, you’ll just have to wait for the rest of the book.

Myrina

Myrina is the second main character we’re introduced to in the story:

Myrina Stamos had endured sixteen years of farm life in the Lamorian mountains, a year of military training, four years working up the ranks to become a captain, and another year before she was finally able to enlist in the diplomatic division, all so that she could become a babysitter for two children fresh out of their cadet training.

I’ve rewritten this scene several times, but it always seemed to come back to the same idea: Myrina’s a soldier on a mission to escort her country’s (Lamori) leader to a visit with the king of Reystrell (Adrien’s father). I always figured she was less than thrilled having two young soldiers with her, but it wasn’t until this most recent draft that I realized her feelings about the situation are indicative of a deeper issue.

Myrina, the soldier who’s starting to think she might be a bit underappreciated.

Artwork commissioned from artist Viria.

I didn’t want Myrina to seem like a complete jerk though, so later in the scene I added this exchange between her and their leader, Anton. She might be strict, but she does have a good reason for it:

“Don’t be so hard on [Iden], Captain.” Anton brought his horse up beside Myrina’s, matching her pace. “He’s not yet old and jaded like us. Let him hold onto his wonder a little longer.”

Myrina smiled, but she faltered as she watched Iden drift off of the path again before correcting himself. “Someone has to keep him in line,” she mused, then amended, “Keep them in line, I mean. You know what the Reyans say about us. These boys will prove them right at every turn.”

Silas

Originally, I didn’t introduce Silas properly until Act 2 of the story, but in this version I’m working on now, I decided it was better to let him make his own first impression.

Silas had some regrets.
He shouldn’t have taken the payment up front, that much was obvious. As things stood now, chasing a common street thug across international borders into a country where he didn’t speak the language was definitely not worth a mere thirty silver coins.

I wanted to keep Silas’s introduction on the vague side, but it was important to me to establish he’s a contrast from the other two main characters. He isn’t a young prince or an honorable soldier, but someone who follows his own motivations and goals.

Silas, who is often grumpy and sticks to his own motivations.

Artwork commissioned from artist Viria.

As a bonus, here’s the first time he encounters Myrina and Adrien (from Myrina’s perspective).

Without thinking, Myrina had stepped out of the alleyway and right into the path of the only pedestrian on the street. They collided, both of them stumbling backward before catching themselves. The stranger was tall, with curly black hair tied back in a ponytail and a permanent scowl etched in his face. He leveled a glare at Myrina.

“Watch it, idiot,” the man muttered.

“Keep your head up next time,” Myrina snapped.

As you can see, they’re gonna get along great.


So that covers my three main characters. While there are plenty of other delightful people in this world, if I do say so myself, I’ll save their introductions for another day.

Instead, I have a proposal: Next month, I’d like to write a “character interview” post about Project Quest, but instead of using a pre-made list of questions or coming up with them on my own, I’d love to gather questions from you!

So if you want to know anything else about Adrien, Myrina, or Silas, feel free to drop your questions in the comments. Or, if you prefer something more anonymous, you can also fill out this Google form with questions. Either way, I’ll use them for a future blog post, so you can look forward to that.


Fellow writers, how do you like to introduce your characters? What are some of the most memorable introductions you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time!

P.S. don’t forget to submit your character interview questions!

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