Worksheet # 16 – First Impressions
As in real life with a real person, a character has only one chance to make a first impression on a reader. That impression may be positive, negative, or neutral, but a smart author will use the first impression to give the reader a message about the character: this is who he is–or isn’t.
A first impression with a character performing a good deed may show a kind heart, someone who lives a “pay it forward” type of life, or someone who suffers from a guilt complex.
A first impression with a character shouting at a kid and making him cry may show a cold heart, a person who was shouted at when they were young, or someone who is shouting because the kid’s action was dangerous and scared the heck out of them both.
A first impression with a character who isn’t paying attention may show a character with an attention problem, one with a ditsy personality, or one who is overwhelmed with bigger problems.
What you see in a first impression may not be exactly what it seems, but the author will nevertheless make a judgment call based on that initial introduction. Think carefully about the following each time you bring a character into a story for the first time.
First Impression Questions
What is the first thing your character does in the story? What does this act SEEM TO reveal about him/her?
What is the first thing your character says? What does this SEEM TO reveal about him/her?
Is the first impression—the first thing the character says and does—an accurate reflection of his/her personality and temperament?
If not, why not?
What do you want the reader to think about this character after this introduction?
Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.
Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.