Subtle Introductions

As the author, you know a great deal about your characters. You work hard to create interesting, well rounded people suitable for their roles. You come to know them so well you recognize them even from a distance. You know their true age, the balance in their checking account and how much they resent their dimwitted brother-in-law. They have bared body and soul to you, been intimate while you evaluated every nuance, and in some cases they have committed murder with you as eye witness. You even know what they plan to do next.

People can get in a lot of trouble having that much knowledge at their fingertips. Creating an opening scene is like hosting a dinner party where you alone know all the guests. You must introduce people in order to insure a successful evening but if you reveal too much too soon people may be put off or become confused. Worse yet, they could become bored and wander off in search of a well poured martini right in the middle of a detailed explanation of your most celebrated guest’s many talents. If that happens they’ll miss the most important piece of information you were planning to convey.

Dinner parties and opening scenes are delicate situations where ferreting out the best gossip is a delicious exercise that takes time, skill and imagination. Be coy with your introductions. Begin the literary feast with an array of delicious appetizers subtlety constructed to whet the appetite then balance the remaining courses to leave plenty of room for a spectacular dessert.

A subtle touch here, a sly wink there entices reader and guest alike to not only stay until the end of the party but to leave satisfied and eagerly await your next invitation.


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