Journaling Idea #15: Introductions

Put your imagination to work each entry and create the first meeting of two fictional characters or recall the first time you met someone in real life. First impressions say a lot.

I don’t have to imagine the first time I met my wife. I stepped into my graduate classmate’s apartment and turned my head to follow the sound of laughter. Sitting in Todd’s curvy Ikea chair just to the right of the door was a curly blond with mischievous blue eyes that glinted in the light from floor lamp as we were introduced. I was struck by her confidence. Besides being tall like her brother that I already knew, she looked nothing like him with his angular frame, olive complexion and dark hair. She was full-figured, and lightly tanned with naturally rosy cheeks. I was immediately taken with her, but it was her witty sense of humor that made me wonder why it had taken us so long to meet.

Romantic meetings may have obvious appeal, but first encounters with all types of people can add interest to any narrative.

“The Lion and the Mouse,” bronze statue by Tom Otterness
(Photo by Qwertzu 111111)

Consider character options by their narrative role:

  • protagonist
  • antagonist
  • deuteragonists
  • love interests
  • foils
  • tertiary characters

Think about types of relationships:

  • family
    • parent-child
    • siblings
    • cousins
    • aunts/uncles and niece/nephews
    • grandparents and grandchildren
  • work
    • boss and employee
    • coworkers
    • seller/service provider and a client
    • educator/healthcare provider and support staff
  • friendships
  • acquaintances
  • situational
  • educational
    • classmates
    • teacher-student
    • cross grade

Think comic book:

  • hero
  • villian
  • mentor
  • comrade/sidekick
  • trickster
  • victim
  • fool

Whatever the pair you put together, remember the basic ways a writer reveals character:

  • Direct characterization
    • the narrator states the character’s trait(s)
  • Indirect characterization
    • character’s speech
    • character’s actions
    • character’s appearance
    • character’s thoughtshts
    • how other characters respond to them in speech/action

Reviewing the pages of your introductions journal may feel like your watching speed dating, improv, or a job interview. You’ll likely want to turn the page on some of the characters, but others you will want to get to know better. Give those their own document, but keep making more introductions.