Narrative Writing

 

Grand Entrance / Figure of Speech

Good characters jump off the page and tell you who they are—before they even open their mouths.

Consider these descriptions of two different women:

Marybell came into the office, eyes lowered, gliding apologetically. She sat with legs straight and tight together and nervously smoothed her plain cotton dress down over her knees. She wore no polish on her bitten fingernails, and her face was devoid of makeup.

 

Lillian knocked briskly on the door and swung into the office, electric with energy, swinging a tiny purse, her heels clicking sharply on the tiles. Her head was high; her hairdo was beautiful. She gave me a wide, confident grin as she leaned across my desk to shake my hand. I proffered her a chair and she plumped down, crossed her pretty legs, whipped out a notebook and a ballpoint pen, and fixed me with keen, intelligent blue eyes that stared with total confidence out of her perfectly made-up face.

Each of these characters is interesting, in their own way. We want to learn more about them.

In the scene that you are going to write, I want you to introduce a character in a similar way—by having them enter the room (or the setting) in a memorable way.

Key Point: The purpose of a grand entrance is to reveal a character's personality. Show me what this person is like. It doesn't matter if this is the first time you are introducing this character, or if this person has already been in many previous scenes. Show me (or remind me) that this character has a unique personality.

Need some ideas?

Try describing someone who is:

Character Trait
  • conceited
  • frightened
  • bossy
  • dainty
  • patriotic
  • shy
  • bewildered
  • classy
  • confident
  • dashing

Adding a Figure of Speech

Another requirement is that your scene include a figure of speech.

A "figure of speech" is a word or phrase that forces the reader to use their imagination. Figures of speech include personification, hyperbole, metaphors, and similes.

Personification is when you give human qualities to inanimate objects.

Hyperbole is the same as exaggeration:

A metaphor is an implied comparison of one thing in terms of another:

A simile is a direct comparison using "like" or "as":


Although there are many ways that you can include a figure of speech in your scene, the easiest, I think, is to use a metaphor or simile to describe one of your characters. This description could easily be part of the grand entrance.

Here are some examples:

Quiz