Thursday, November 02, 2006

Creating memorable characters: in the first page!

Julie Cohen has issued an interesting challenge on her blog, where she asks people to post a first page excerpt and demonstrate how we create characters and conflict so early in a book.

So, as we've been chatting about INHERITED: BABY, here's the first page from the book with my two cents worth thrown in for good luck!

Maya Edison stood ram-rod straight, oblivious to the huge society crowd that had turned the funeral into a farce. She stared at the casket containing her dead fiancé as it was lowered into the ground, wishing she could cry.

(By her stiff posture and not caring about the crowd around her, we get the impression Maya is a strong woman.)

Wishing she could feel something other than the soul-deep weariness that had seeped into her bones around the time she’d had moved in with Joe Bourke, fallen pregnant with his child and bought his phoney lines about wanting to get married.

(She's had it tough. 'Soul-deep' implies more than your average grief.)

Wishing she didn’t feel the slightest hint of relief that her nightmare with Joe was over. Or the overwhelming guilt at her role in his death.

(What's this? She had something to do with Joe's death? Demonstrates our heroine is flawed and maybe isn't solely deserving of all our sympathy?)

Loving Joe had been a rush, a whirlwind romance that plucked her up and deposited her in the vortex of an emotional hurricane, leaving her to pick up the pieces eighteen months later.
“You okay?”
She turned at the light touch on her elbow, nodding mechanically, gaining some comfort from the genuine concern in Riley’s deep blue eyes.
Riley Bourke, Joe’s serious older brother, the only person at this funeral who had leant a helping hand after Joe’s death, the only person who seemed to care.

(Instantly, we get the feeling the hero is real. He has 'genuine' concern, has helped her and cares, three great qualities for a hero to have.)

Interesting, huh?
What do you think? Does this short intro give you a feel for the characters?


2paw said...

It certainly does give me a feel for the characters and it makes me long to read the book even more!!!

Julie Cohen said...

Very definitely, Nicola--a really good example of how it can be done, and a good reminder, too, to start at an emotional and possibly dramatic moment.

Thanks for taking my challenge!