Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Meet, Already!

The moment is coming. You know it is. Everyone knows it is. It begins with an anxious tap of a fingernail on the back cover of the book. Or maybe a tap on your knee. Or the scratch of your brow. All moisture evaporates from your throat. You reach for a glass of water. Your fingers are jittery. You desperately want to flip ahead a few pages, scan a few words, paragraphs. Just a peek. You can't wait. 

Nervously, you braise a fingernail on the edge of the pages, breathing softly. Beads of sweat pepper your brow, waiting, anticipating. Then finally, there it is: the First Impression, your main character's initial meeting.

It can happen in  numerous ways.

1) The Glassy Stare. A casual glance from across a crowded room. This is a good one. Such a tease, yet it will appease the reader enough to keep reading. They just have to know what's going to happen now. 

2) The Opinionator. Through the eyes or opinion of another character. Oh, a tension builder. Talk about head games in high school.  

3) The Slight Bump. Both reach for the same apple or brush past each other in the hallway by the locker rooms. This can be tender and yet it can come across as annoying. A meeting, yet not truly a meeting.

4) Blushing in Embarrassment. One character is put in an uncomfortable place and then meets the other. Ex: male character is working at his hated job at the movie theater serving popcorn. Suddenly this amazing girl is front and center asking for a large popcorn. Readers can relate to this. This is usually effective.  

5) The Crash, Bash, and Escape. The female lead is swept our of harm's way by the dashing male lead. She's saved from a ball hitting her in the head, a dog chasing her, or your average paranormal entity messing with her. OR the table could be turned and the male lead breaks his leg and needs a tutor for the summer so he can graduate to his senior year. Either way, this presents a maelstrom of roads you can take your character. As the reader, I'm biting a hole in my lip, wondering where you are headed.     

Do any of your favorite books come to mind?

In each case, it's up to us as the writer to paint the scene through diction, style, and emotion. Use the elements of your scene. 

A cup of coffee spills off a table in a diner where your mc female is doing homework. The liquid trickles off the lip of the table, making a beeline for her books piled next to her feet. Your main-squeeze male character witnesses the whole thing from the porthole of the kitchen door. He's been watching her. 

Use the smell of the coffee and the reaction of your scenery characters. Maybe the girl is oblivious that the coffee was spilled, or maybe she's angry about it. How will this affect their first impression of each other?

I love playing with this, writing a skeletal scene in different ways to see what moves me most and what conveys what I want to say about them.

Maybe she's normally a calm, level-headed girl but her father just ran off with some young floozy, leaving her mom in a tizzy and herself filled with rage. Who knows? It's up to you. 

What is your favorite first impression scene? What is your favorite first impression scene to write? 


  1. Hey Sheri,great post! My characters met with a glassy stare, in fact, this was the opening scene. My beta reader thinks it shouldn't be used as the opener, not enough action. Maybe I'll try the Crash, Bash and Escape!

  2. I literally love every single post on this blog. This is just another example of the awesome you collectively possess!

  3. I love to write the Crash/Bash/Dash type. ^_^
    Example from my current WIP:
    Wiping at tears on my chin, I pushed away from the doors, and hardly registered the tall shadow behind me, beside the auditorium foyer. My skin tingled, ears rang when I felt the presence I’d nearly missed, and I stopped dead.
    “You’re not meant for him, Faith.”
    What in hell? Who is that? Where’d he come from?
    Mind buzzing with questions, I spun around. In front of me, close enough to feel his breath on my tear-wet cheeks stood the most gorgeous guy I’d ever seen. Dressed in black from head to motorcycle-booted toes. Square jaw with a hint of stubble, espresso dark, purposefully messed hair, smoldering eyes and exotic complexion. Native America? Middle Eastern? Anywhere but here. He was embodiment of every ideal I had for the opposite sex and his attentions were laser-targeted on me.
    Trouble, I thought, dark, mysterious, reputation-wrecking trouble.

  4. Thank you, Cara. That is so kind. We truly appreciate it.

  5. Aww! Thanks, Cara. we love all of you guys too.

  6. Great post! My wip has the crash meeting. :)


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