Two facts about life:
When people walk into our lives they don’t hand us a piece of paper or wear a t-shirt that tells us about themselves – where they’re from, what kind of food they like, how big a house they live in, their sense of humor. No, we learn this from what they say and do. We learn this from interacting with them and watching them interact with others. We learn these discrete details about them in context, either from what they say or how they say it. We learn these things from dialogue and action.
People also walk into our lives in the middle of everything. They enter while we’re doing life. We don’t get all sorts of context and backstory as we live life in all its aspects. We simply walk in. And everyone else simply walks in. Over time we take the parts and begin to constitute a picture.
Two facts about good fiction:
Good fiction reflects life. Good fiction doesn’t introduce characters to the reader. It doesn’t pause and tell the reader all about someone as they appear on the page. There is an ancient statement about writing fiction – “show don’t tell.” This is true for characters as well. Your reader should experience and learn about a character just as they would in life. It is important that you let what the character says and does define them. This is one key way you can allow the reader into the story.
Good fiction also opens a story in medias res – in the midst of things. There is again no need to inform the reader of anything. Let the scene start and the reader will accept the bits and pieces and will complete the picture for themselves. Your job is to simply provide compelling, unique bits and pieces coupled with conflict.