Now, THIS is How to Introduce a Character

You’ve seen me complain about characters who are given no physical description. Here is an author who knows how to do it right:

[The] man so exactly suited the image of the funeral director that he could have been playing the part. There was, of course, the obligatory dark suit and somber tie. But the very way he stood seemed to suggest that he was apologising for having to be there. His hands were clasped together in a gesture of profound regret. His face was crumpled, mournful, not helped by hair that had thinned to the edge of baldness and a beard that had the look of a failed experiment. He wore tinted spectacles that were sinking into the bridge of his nose, not just framing his eyes but masking them. He was about forty years old. He too was smiling.

Anthony Horowitz, The Word Is Murder, p. 3

That last line is the master stroke.

6 thoughts on “Now, THIS is How to Introduce a Character

    1. Yes.
      The paragraph before, the funeral director was ushered into the room by his smiling assistant. Hence, “He too was smiling.” Besides adding a touch of incongruity, it brings us back into the practical part of the action.

      Like

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