It happens so much in novels that I'm sure many writers believe this is the only way to introduce their characters. True? I hope not because that sort of writing drives me mad.
That being said, when introducing your characters to the reader, try to do it like you would in real life.
1) A person you meet for the first time will NOT approach and hand you a list of his or her main characteristics. "Hello, my name is Gary. I'm six-two, smart, witty, handsome, a Christian Scientist, my mother's a truck driver, my father tap dances for exercise, I only graduated high school, and recently I had my wisdom teeth extracted."
2) A person will NOT stand there for five minutes while you inspect and measure them for height, hair color, eye color and style of dress.
So, don't do this to your characters.
What can you do instead? Do what happens in real life, we get to know people gradually and through what they do and say.
1) Write down the character's name on a sheet of paper.
2) Write down five things you think are interesting about the character.
a) 2 physical characteristics
b) 2 personality traits
c) 1 thing about his past or social role
3) Now, write five scenes where you SHOW instead of DESCRIBE (TELL) the characteristic through either dialog or narrative. For example, lets say Sarah dresses for looks rather than practically. How can you show and not tell this?
When Mark left the room, Sarah reached down and slipped off her four-inch heel.'Agh,' she said as she separated her crushed toes.
What about through dialog?
Source: The Writer's WayMark turned around and placed his hands on his hips. 'Sarah, will you hurry? We're going to miss my brother's float.'
'It's these stupid shoes,' she replied.
'I told you to wear your trainers. Why would you wear four-inch heels to a parade?'
Picture source: St. Johns Booksellers
Here are some great blog posts I've read today:
Emotional Challenge from Fairway Fiction
Charmaine at Wagging Tales talks about Premise.
Karen from Coming Down the Mountain...Interviewed with e-publishing author Simon Kewin and it was interesting...check it out.