If there’s one thing authors like to talk about more than their cats, it’s their characters. There are so many things to tell us about your character! Like, the depth of their wine-dark eyes, the whalebone curve of their lips, how their favorite color is the orange-pink of ocean sunsets…. And so on, down through favorite animals and up through the way they smell. And it’s understandable! You’ve spent so much time with this character that the moment they appear on the page, you want to share them in all their incredibly detailed glory.
But that’s kind of like grabbing someone you’ve just met in a full-throttle, full-body hug—while you whisper in their ear about every success you’ve achieved since the 2nd grade. All in hope of impressing them enough that they’ll like you. It’s a little too much, too soon, and no matter how awesome you actually are, they’re liable to back away slowly until they can bolt out the door.
When your reader first meets your main character, it’s a lot like flirting in a crowded room. You’re competing not only with all the other characters and setting elements in the room, but also with all the other books out there. And on top of that, you are forbidden from making the first move! So of course you want to do everything you can to help your character make an impression. Here are a few tips to help you—and your character—flirt your way into readers’ hearts.
1. Smile like a Sphinx
Nothing is more engaging than a secret. It’s like a flickering smile and a promising glance from across a room. One that hints at your clever understanding of the world, the startling depth of your personality, and the scintillating nature of your wit. It begs further investigation. It could be that the ruffian in the back of the bar with the too-intense eyes is actually a ranger-king-in-exile with a heart of gold, it could be that your hero was raised by a clan of chimera everyone assumes are the product of her imagination, or it could be hints from a devil that one twin is markedly different from her sister in ways unaffiliated with her appearance. Hinting at your hero's secrets flirts with the reader, drawing them in with the promise of learning more.