I took Pnin off my shelf last night, after putting my two kids to bed. I randomly grabbed dozens of other books too, examining how authors introduce their characters. Some writers immediately tell us the character's name, others just use a pronoun; some show the character being observed, others have her observing; some describe the character's physical appearance, others put us right inside her head. These decisions are all pulling us, the readers, toward a certain way of relating to that character.
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My head is full of memorable fictional characters, but after the fact I seldom recall the first moment that I encountered them. Marianne’s column has got me flipping through the books on my own shelves trying to recapture those moments. It seems a very important exercise for a writer, and an interesting one for any reader, to return to that first meeting.
Are there any particularly effective first introductions to characters that stand out for you from your fiction reading?