Thursday, September 22, 2005

First Impressions

I saw a guy in a car today. Not a totally shattering experience, it's
true. But he caught my eye.


Well, it was something to do with the longish sun-bleached hair and dark
shadowed jaw. Something to do with the animation of the face, even
something to do with the gore tex jacket - not, I hasten to add, because I'm
a labels person, but because that immediately took him out of the
ageing-rocker-with-potentially-questionable-personal-hygeine bracket and
put him nicely in the active-extreme-sports-enthusiast slot. Apart from
anything else, he's likely to have better conversation.

So he caught my eye out of a combination of attractive appearance, active
demeanour, and an accessory that put him in a certain bracket.

Which got me thinking. What are the first things that my characters notice
about each other, and why?

Here's a selection:-

Run Among Thorns
He was a big man, dark and intimidating, but that was about as far as her impression went. If someone had asked her to describe his face, she would have had trouble. She was just so tired.

Rescuing Rachel (The heroine has just been involved in a car accident)
There was a face at the window, blurred by something. The face was dark, vibrant, like an impressionist painting of strength. She closed her eyes for a moment, and opened them again. The blurring was her eyesight, she found, noting it with a detached portion of her mind while she watched the dark face moving beyond the glass.

And a few paras later....

To prove it, she turned her head a little, found that up this close the blurring of her vision was less, and her eyes collided with those of the man outside.
Because it was a man. That much was blatantly obvious. The smooth hard lines of his face were beautiful, but very masculine. The line of his brows were drawn together in a frown that turned his face into a study of anger: dark, violent, virile.
Then the frown slipped away and he leaned closer, inches away, kept from her by a single sheet of glass. There was a sheen of sweat on his temples and a flush across his cheeks.

There was a woman sitting under a sweet chestnut tree on the slope of Caesar’s Camp.
Sat under one of his sweet chestnut trees, for God’s sake. She had her knees drawn up, and her back to the grey trunk. Her head was tipped back against the deeply ridged bark so that her golden hair tumbled down over her shoulders and halfway down her back. Her eyes were closed, and she was crying.

That one's actually the first line, but the situation is WAY derivative - can you spot the inspiration? Clue - English romantic suspense novel.

Dangerous Lies
He was fair... no, he was golden, gilded, bright. Tall, slim, with a grace of movement that made her stomach clench. His hair was short, tousled, but his grooming was impeccable. Blue eyes, a face lined in the shape of a smile, even now, as he frowned at her. Surfer dude meets the City of London. The debonair beach bum.

What I'm spotting here is that, a) I tend to have heroines start a book in a state of shock or emotional distress and b) I'm not putting in the gore tex jacket. Where are my props that help the character place who they're seeing? Hmmm. Something to work on.

What about yours? What is that all-important sentence or paragraph in your
current WIP, where we get a look at the Hero (or heroine!) from the other
protagonist's point of view for the first time?


At 6:32 am, Blogger Biddy said...

He was going to get the drinks in and she could get a bit sloshed whilst the rest of the photos happened. She looked to the man on Ollie’s left.
Oh Lord.
Her stomach lurched. That was just unfair. Men should not be allowed to wear kilts to weddings, especially not men as beautiful as this one.
He stared at Allie as she walked past, his eyes burning into her, a grim look around what should have been a sensual mouth. His chestnut hair glowed in a shaft of light from one of the windows; his broad shoulders in the black jacket drew the eye. She knew even as she left the church that he was still staring at her. She shivered. There was something implacable about him. Something dangerous and not quite tamed, his very stillness and posture made her think of an animal ready to pounce.

At 6:57 am, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

Now you see, this is better... ggg

Not just what he looks like, but her reaction to it, and something intriguing to make it interesting.

Why is a man in a kilt looking grim at a wedding?

Mmmmm.... kiiiiiiiiilt.

At 11:20 am, Anonymous Vicky said...

OK, I’ll play, seeing as how I’ve recently actually been inspired to write again for the first time in months! Here’s my h’s reaction to seeing the H for the first time in the wip, but as it’s a reunion story I’ll cheat & put in a later scene in which she recalls how they met.

Did I conjure you up? She stared at the once familiar figure on her doorstep; the angles of his cheek bones, jaw and brows seeming sharper and harder in the harsh light shinning directly above him, his eyes glittering like moonlight against the black night that surrounded his spot-lit figure. He seemed taller, thinner, older; infinitely more frightening as he stood so unsmilingly on the threshold.

Tall, not the tallest man there by any means, but somehow he seemed it; had it been the way he held himself slightly aloof from everyone else? Even the willowy blond holding onto his arm and smiling into his face as if Christmas had come early hadn’t been able to rub up against him as she might have wished. Was it just hindsight that now made it seem so obvious that he never let people get too close to him?
He had seemed bulky too, not overweight, his presence just somehow seemed to dominate. Had it simply been the expensive soft brown jacket he had been wearing over a chunky blue jumper that had made him so substantial? Yet even though he had shed the coat and was pulling the jumper over his head as he finally stood smiling in front of her while he clapped Mark on the back she still felt oddly small before him. Vulnerable.

At 10:53 pm, Anonymous Danica said...

Usually, I love you. Today, I hate you. I read your post and had another "oh crap" moment. I can't recall any place in my current book where the characters notice anything about the other's appearance.

All right, I suppose I still love you. I just have to go remember to add in this tidbit. Ergh

At 12:18 am, Anonymous Sasha said...

I have nothignto post. LOl

But I dis so enjoy reading yours. :)

At 7:44 pm, Blogger Sela Carsen said...

I'll play! I love all these introduction epiphanies!

She walked into the council room and immediately sensed an almost unbearable pressure. Her ears stopped up so that all she heard was the rushing of her own blood through her head. Her throat thickened and she struggled to breathe normally.

What she could smell stunned her. Turned her inside out. The fine hair on her arms stood up, the muscles of her thighs quivered and vibrated. Her nipples peaked in response and her breasts tingled. That scent shot straight to her womb, clenching and releasing in primal hunger. It was the scent of green, growing things, of fresh water, of moss and damp and earth. Over it all like a fine mist of scented oil, was a spicy wild musk.

It was him.

At 8:24 pm, Blogger Donna Alward said...

Ooooh ooooh! FUn!

Her eyes followed the sound of the voice as she looked up, dazed. Trying hard to focus, she found herself staring into the most beautiful set of brown eyes she’d ever seen. They were stunning, dark brown with golden flecks throughout, large and thickly lashed. Men shouldn’t have eyes that pretty, she thought irrationally, then with a jolt realized she was captured in the arms of the eyes’ owner.
“Oh, crap!”
The eyes crinkled at the corners at her exclamation and she felt his hands on her arm and behind her back, helping her to rise.

At 11:55 pm, Blogger MaryF said...


Here's from my WIP:

Even unconscious, there was nothing vulnerable about the man. Liv felt the thrill of awareness of Delaney’s power as she looked down at his prone form as they jounced through the Madrid streets in the back of a hot panel truck. He wasn’t as big, as bulky as she remembered, but he was still strong. Still powerful.
So they’d cuffed him. It felt almost like a betrayal.
She’d recognize him anywhere. His military haircut had grown out into chestnut hair that curled to his collar, his lean-planed face was shadowed by a beard a shade lighter. His green eyes were harder.
He smelled the same, though. Like a hot jungle, earthy, spicy, male.
She eased back, needing distance from the memories the scent triggered, and pressed against the wall of the truck, not taking her eyes off him.

At 10:59 am, Blogger Julie said...

I like how all of these meetings immediately show a mood.

Here's one I like, of mine:

The door at the back of the room opened, and a man walked in. The first thing I noticed was his hair. Blonde, wavy, longish, rumpled to the point of wildness.

Then I saw his face. It was nearly the face of a movie star: high cheekbones, strong chin, full lips. Except for the nose, which was crooked, slightly off-centre, where it must have been broken at some time.

Uh oh. I was in trouble.

I couldn’t help smiling anyway. I’d thought about this moment for a long time.

“Hello, Harry Blake,” I said.

The man stopped. He considered me, his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. “Hello Rosie Fox. Have we met?”

His voice--a low-pitched, casual tone that contrasted wonderfully with his perfect clear British vowels and crisp consonants--was as familiar to me as his hair and face.

“No, we haven’t,” I answered. “But I’m a psychic, you know?”

At 3:48 pm, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

I'm loving these!

Sorry Danica! OTOH, I'll have my editorial fee now, please... ;-)

I have to say, I particularly like Sela's - completely non-visual. And Julie's right, we've all got that mood, and emotional impact, of that first meeting.



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